How can I concentrate better

Concentration Exercises: The Best Tips and Tricks

Well, is even the orange juice more concentrated than you? 75 percent of students in Germany alone have Difficulty concentrating. This was the result of an assessment by teachers who were questioned by the Allensbach opinion research institute. The numbers among adults are unlikely to be lower: who does not have problems with focusing and working with concentration every now and then. Smartphones and social media do the rest to make us unlearn how to concentrate. So it's high time for a couple Concentration exercisesto counteract the creeping process and train concentration ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Definition of concentration: what is it anyway?

The term concentration comes from the Latin word concentra from and means something like together to the center. According to more general definition the term is therefore understood to mean the following:

Concentration is the voluntary focus of attention on a certain activity, the achievement of a short-term achievable goal or the solving of a given task.

Just to fathom the sentence in its full scope, you probably had to concentrate hard. Good thing - a start! Because whoever concentrates is for a certain time completely absorbed in the moment, in the current activity. This one activity is in the foreground and everything else becomes hidden.

However, there is always a need to concentrate Show of strengthbecause our brain is constantly hungry for new sensory stimuli and is only too happy to be distracted - especially when they are deflection promises less effort.

That's why a high Concentration level also only maintained over a certain period of time. Most people do 90 minutes. Then the gray cells need a (relaxing) break.

Why is it so difficult for many to concentrate?

But why do some still find it so difficult to concentrate - even within the 90-minute interval?

The reasons for this are ultimately legion. This may be due to an abnormal (and perhaps not yet diagnosed) disorder such as ADD (attention deficit disorder). Or quite simply on ours Biorhythm as well as tiredness and (mental) exhaustion. But mostly it is these three main causesthat lead to a lack of concentration:

  • Lots of distractions

    Everywhere the last bastions of inaccessibility are disappearing, our daily work is full of disruptive factors: noise in front of the office window, the incessantly ringing phone, constantly incoming e-mails, numerous inquiries from customers, colleagues or superiors - and these are just a few examples. University of California computer scientist Gloria Mark once found that it takes just eleven minutes for the average office worker to be interrupted by anything in their concentration. Then, on average, he turns to at least two other tasks before returning to his original activity - around 25 minutes later. The next interruption is already lurking until he has come back to his thinking and familiarized himself with it. In short: we work continuously from interruption to interruption.

  • Low tolerance for frustration

    If things don't go the way we want (again) or if it takes more effort than expected, not only does frustration arise - our mind then also likes to seek awakening and refreshment through new, instant success experiences. Zack - we're already devoting ourselves to a more promising activity or drifting. Although some people have a higher tolerance for frustration than others, it decreases for everyone during the day, especially for so-called owls, i.e. late risers.

  • General overload

    Basically it is a rush, but also one of the most common reasons for poor concentration: We are tired, exhausted and stressed - and have been for days. More unprocessed thoughts waft through our heads than solved problems. Sure, who then also physically K.O. can no longer have a clear thought and keep jumping from one topic to the next.

Concentration exercises: tips for prevention

Appeals like "Now pull yourself together!" or gently clapping the cheek area usually doesn't help when you feel like you are yourself unable to concentrate. Once your concentration is gone, you will have difficulty regaining it. It is therefore advisable to make sure that you stay focused beforehand.

The following precautions can help:
  • Get enough sleep.

    Healthy sleep - it lasts an average of seven hours - has a decisive influence on how well or poorly you can concentrate during the day. Our head also enjoys a good and deep sleep, and every time there is a kind Brainwashing Instead: Our brain actually throws away all kinds of waste information and harmful metabolic products that have accumulated during the day while we sleep, thus creating space and a healthy environment for new information. Did you know that the risk of making mistakes due to excessive fatigue is even greater than consuming three to four glasses of beer?

  • Drink regularly.

    Water or lightly sweetened tea are best. It has been proven that dehydration leads to headaches and a lack of concentration. Moreover, after a heavy meal, many fall into the so-called schnitzel coma. The body then puts all its energy into digestion rather than into thinking. Therefore: If you want to be able to concentrate in the afternoon, you should avoid heavy, fatty foods at lunchtime. Nuts, fish and salads are better.

  • Hide disruptive factors.

    If you need a quiet environment to concentrate on your work, you should consciously eliminate possible disruptive factors. For example, set the notification tone of your e-mail program. Listening to music can also help block out the surroundings and background noise.

  • Take breaks.

    As already mentioned: give your thinking apparatus regular short breaks. Getting up from your desk several times for three to five minutes, stretching yourself briefly and stretching your legs will give you a new kick of energy. You can then go back to work fresh. Particularly helpful here: the so-called Pomodoro technique, in which you work at set intervals. For example, first set a time limit of 45 minutes and set an alarm via smartphone alarm clock. During this time, there is a focused work, followed by a ten-minute break. Then work again for 45 minutes, then take a break and so on.

  • Go for a walk.

    Great thinkers and philosophers have always sought the vastness of nature in order to first ventilate their minds, then inspire them. Because when we go for a walk, our minds also wander, open the horizon, discover and learn. Charles Hillman from the University of Illinois, for example, was able to show in his research that even short breaks with physical activity can enormously stimulate brain activity. Subsequently, the subjects' reaction times, concentration and ability to quickly switch between different tasks improved. The studies by Marily Oppezzo and Daniel L. Schwartz also come to similar results. Here, the cognitive performance of the test subjects improved by walking by 23 percent. And a 20 minute walk is enough.

  • Make up for it.

    Did you have a stressful day full of interruptions? Then take care of some balance in the evening - in the form of short exercise and real relaxation afterwards. This also trains you to deal with high stress in a more relaxed manner in the future.

Cola helps against poor concentration

Do you suffer from acute poor concentration? Gargle briefly with cola. No joke: Scientists working with Matthew Sanders from the University of Georgia want to have found out that the sugar tingle on our tongue alone helps to motivate us and concentrate better.

The basis was an experiment with 51 subjects. They were subjected to a test, but divided into two groups: some rinsed their mouth with sugary lemonade beforehand, the others with light lemonade, which only contained sweetener. Result: The first group completed the test faster and better.

In fact, the sweetness in the mouth can perk you up. Because the sugar briefly raises the insulin level, which in turn stimulates the formation of serotonin in the brain. Sanders explains the effect like this:

Glucose stimulates the simple carbohydrate sensors on the tongue. These, in turn, stimulate the brain's motivational centers: their signals inform the body to pay more attention, thus increasing awareness and helping us to focus on our goals again.

However, the sugar effect on the tongue only brings short-term performance boosts, which the researchers also admit. And in the long term, the increased consumption of cola and lemonades is more likely to lead to hip gold and diabetes. So please just gargle, don't drink!

Concentration exercises: learn to concentrate again

However, the ability to concentrate is also a question of regular training. Yes, you can actually unlearn the ability to concentrate - not completely, but considerably weaken it. When practicing concentration, it is crucial that you do not undertake too much at once and that you increase your workload gradually. So success is more long-term than short-term. But it does happen - for example with these tried and tested ones Concentration exercises:

  1. Count letters.

    Take this article as an example and print it out. Then mark all "K" s in this text with a pen or highlighter. If that is too easy, try the exercise directly on the screen - then of course only with the naked eye.

    Alternatively: Go through this letter grid and count, for example, how often the letter K, D, O, Z or V occurs.

  2. Write backwards.

    But not with the keyboard (but that is also possible in a pinch), but take a pen and paper and try to write any text backwards, from right to left and with twisted letters. Sounds easier than it is.

  3. Count phrases.

    Sit down for meetings and write down the number of times certain words or phrases are used. For example the word “I” or the phrase “Basically, that's how it is ...”. In the sporty version, this exercise is also called bullshit bingo or ideas killer bingo.

  4. Focus your gaze.

    Try not to say anything for a while, try not to do anything - except breathe and stare. To do this, either fix a point on the wall or a picture. And try not to think about anything as much as possible. The effect is the same as with meditation: you will immediately be able to concentrate better afterwards.

  5. Follow the second hand.

    Place an analog clock in front of you and watch the second hand with your eyes. Just focus on this one. Don't think of anything else. If you find that your mind is drifting, go back to the second hand and bring your attention to it. You will find that holding out for a minute is a challenge.

  6. Spell backwards.

    This exercise can be carried out in several steps: Start with short, simple words and spell them backwards, then move on to long, more complex terms such as “Verkehrsinfrastrukturfinanzierungsgesellschaft” (one of the ten longest German words). The last step is to spell entire sentences backwards. It's even more fun if you turn it into a little game among colleagues.

  7. Recombine.

    This exercise is a lot of fun and is well suited to bridging waiting times: For example, take the train, take a close look at the other passengers and combine their external characteristics into one person. For example, mentally give the passenger next to you the hooked nose of the ticket inspector, the gray hair of the older lady at the door, the piercing of the schoolgirl in the foursome in front of you ... and imagine the overall picture.

  8. Pack a suitcase.

    You are probably familiar with the children's game "I'm packing my suitcase ...": someone starts with this sentence and says what is going to be packed in the suitcase. The next person must now first list what is already in the suitcase and add another item. Anyone who forgets an item that has already been listed has lost. The game can not only be played with words, but also with gestures: wrinkle your nose, scratch your head, fold your hands ...

  9. Swap the first letters.

    The German language is full of compound nouns, in technical jargon too Compounds called. Every time you come across one, try to swap the first letters. In this way the Christmas tree becomes - Christmas tree or from passenger - Gahrfast.

  10. Find the bug.

    Those who like to puzzle can train their concentration with the help of error images. The principle is quickly explained: You see two apparently identical images and should now find the differences or errors. With us you can play a modified form with a résumé quiz ...

    Alternatives: Find a way through the following maze. You can run your finger over the monitor, print out the article (CTRL + P) or download the labyrinth as a PDF for free, print it out and then fill it in - as you like:

  11. Remember backwards.

    An exercise that is wonderfully suited to reviewing your own working day: Tell your partner, roommate or friend about the day that has passed - but in reverse order.

  12. Stretch yourself.

    Sometimes the lack of concentration can simply be due to tension - for example in the neck, back or lumbar area. Poor ergonomics in the workplace are often to blame. Then only one thing helps: a short workout including getting up, sticking, stretching. If you - for whatever reason - cannot or do not want to get up: There are a few simple exercises that can be done while sitting, especially for the neck:

Extra tip: chew gum

Chew gum. No joke! For example, Serge Onyper, a psychologist at St. Lawrence University, found some time ago that chewing gum five minutes before an exam improves student performance. In the end, his chewing subjects achieved better grades. However, the trick only works for the first 15 to 20 minutes of the exam, after which the chewing gum effect decreases again.

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November 9, 2020Author: Jochen Mai

Jochen Mai is the founder and editor-in-chief of the career bible. The author of several books lectures at the TH Köln and is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach and consultant.

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