Interesting ideas on ways to improve our ability to focus

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One definition of the word focus is when we adjust our eyes and mind to something very specific.

I think this definition can also be applied to how we view New Year’s resolutions. The caveat with New Year’s resolutions is that we adjust our eyes and focus in on what’s important to us for what is usually a very short period of time!

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So how do we sustain our focus on what seem like extremely challenging goals that seem exciting at the beginning of the year but start to lose their shine towards the end of January?

I found some interesting research on factors that can improve focus which made me think that perhaps the methods with which we go about attempting to implement resolutions could be updated.

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Mindfulness Meditation

Like so many of us, I’ve often heard that meditation is beneficial for our health in an endless number of ways.

….Like so many of us, I’ve added this to my list of things to do (more towards the bottom!) and not looked at it again.

According to a study on mindfulness practice published in the journal of Psychiatry Research, here, mindfulness exercises performed by participants for approximately 27 minutes a day over a period of 8 weeks, showed an increase in gray matter concentration in the left hippocampus (part of the brain that affects our verbal memory and in turn the ability to plan and organize) as well as a significant increase in mindfulness scores for some of the study participants.

The idea that meditation improves mindfulness as a whole makes sense to me from the perspective that we are making the time to intentionally let go of what is distracting to us. I often wonder if writing can be considered meditative – it does seem to have a similar effect for me.

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Short Rest Periods

In a study led by NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke elaborated on here, brief rest periods were found to bind together memories required to learn a new skill.

If we’ve tasked ourselves with resolutions that require us to try new things, perhaps doing it all at once with no breaks and no flexibility is not the best idea. Planned, short and frequent breaks can help with giving us bite sized chunks to process that are more manageable.

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Spending Less Time Online

Authors of the article “The “online brain”: how the Internet may be changing our cognition“, published in World Psychiatry, concluded that the various streams of information that capture our attention online lead to attention-switching rather than sustained focus and that the constant access to information could additionally affect our internal memory processes.

Although they also discuss the positive effects of online engagement, it is clear that there is concern about achieving balance – so we don’t lose focus when it comes to our priorities. We can take advantage of information available at the tips of our fingers while having boundaries around the the total amount of time spent online.

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From an every day life perspective, I think it is important to remind yourself to unplug and take advantage of reducing the sheer amount of distraction that can be had online. So many of us talk about digital detoxes mostly because we’re looking to simplify. I’m sure this can have an effect on New Year’s resolutions as well – less time spent online could translate to a calmer, more focused goal achieving mindset.

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Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? If you did, do you find your focus waning – how do you sustain your resolve with long term goals?

12 thoughts on “Interesting ideas on ways to improve our ability to focus

  1. Good points. I have been using meditation programs while I walk the dog in the morning. I make vision cards for my goals so I have a broader expectation of what I can get done and where I want to focus my attentions. Less stress than keeping to a “resolution.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is a great way to add meditation into your day. Is there a particular meditation program you’d recommend? I’ve tried off and on and haven’t found something I look forward to doing on a daily basis yet.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ha. Spend less time online, you say? I really need that, yet I just can’t seem to get myself to do it. That’s my weakness, and something I really have to work on. But I suspect that I’ll be able to increase my productivity way more if I do though. Here’s to trying, and thanks for this reminder!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It is definitely a tough ask! I do think it makes a difference though – there’s something about daily online-free time that clears my thought processes. Thanks for stopping by – have a great week.

    Like

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