What can you do to improve your concentration?

Last week, I explained how you need to increase your attention span by having a goal, trusting your timer, removing unnecessary distractions, making progress, taking a break, and repeating. Make sure to listen to that episode if you haven’t already done so.

When you want to focus more on something, what about the other stuff? You can either decide to not do those other things or trust somebody else to complete them. It’s a great way to improve your concentration by eliminating extra nagging tasks. Letting somebody else help allows you to concentrate more. Just be careful that you don’t end up micro-managing or you won’t get the full benefits of improved concentration.

Let’s move on to another loss of concentration and that’s wandering thoughts. Have you ever tried to think really hard about some problem only to constantly struggle to bring your thoughts back to the problem you’re trying to solve? It’s like those thoughts won’t leave you alone for a moment, right?

What you need is a system. Someplace where you can record these thoughts. Someplace that you can trust will be safe and that you’ll come back to later. Someplace that you know you’ll be able to find those recorded thoughts easily.

You might be trying to design some new game feature when you remember you need to make your car payment tomorrow. It might not seem like a big deal and maybe you’re used to these kinds of thoughts. But they will ruin your concentration. Especially, if you stop what you’re doing, get up, write a check, and put it next to your car keys so you don’t forget. Don’t get me wrong. Taking action is great and a lot better than forgetting to make the payment. But look what it just did to your programming. At least this was a productive example. What about if you have the TV on and look up as your show comes back from commercial break each and every time. You think you’re programming during the commercial breaks but it doesn’t work like that.

A major break to your concentration can easily require 15 minutes or more just to get back to where you left off. If all you’re doing is washing dishes during commercial breaks, no problem. Just pick up the next bowl and start scrubbing. But programming requires you to hold a lot of related thoughts in your mind and it takes while to get them just right. You can’t just start typing again like it was a dirty bowl.

Listen to the full episode for more suggestions to improve your concentration.