12 Ways to Improve Concentration at Work

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated September 7, 2021 | Published December 12, 2019

Updated September 7, 2021

Published December 12, 2019

Boosting your memory and concentration at work can increase both your productivity and quality of work. No matter your career responsibilities or role, you can benefit from honing your concentration skills. By refining your mental focus, you can reduce the impact of distractions in the workplace. In this article, we discuss how you can improve your concentration abilities and how you can apply them to work-related tasks.

What is concentration?

Concentration is the act of focusing one’s attention. When you concentrate, you focus your mental effort on one subject, thought or object. While doing so, you exclude any unrelated feelings, thoughts, ideas or sensations. Learning how to concentrate at work is essential for succeeding in your career.

Benefits of concentrating at work

Because concentration is the ability to apply your undivided attention to any single task, subject, thought or object, the ability to maintain concentration will enable you to perform any work-related task or responsibility more successfully. You will be able to reach a decision or solution more quickly and accomplish tasks effectively and efficiently. Some other benefits of the ability to concentrate at work are:

  • You are faster. You can complete tasks more quickly and with greater creativity, increasing your overall productivity.

  • Produce higher quality work. You can complete tasks with fewer mistakes and come up with more creative ideas.

  • Less stress. Eliminating distractions from your work means you reduce the likelihood of falling behind and thereby have less stress in your day. You’re also able to better see which responsibilities should be delegated or outsourced rather than taking it all on yourself.

  • Your subconscious mind helps you operate efficiently. If you are fully focused, your subconscious mind is working in the background, helping you perform the tasks more quickly and with greater efficiency.

These benefits generally lead to an overall improved performance at work, which can lead to greater career opportunities and advancement as well as potential raises.

How to improve your concentration and memory

Regular exercise strengthens the body, but the mind also benefits from purposeful mental exercise that improves memory and concentration. Here are several steps to take:

1. Meditate

Meditation is beneficial for many reasons. It reduces stress, helps you feel calm and can boost your attention span. Research even shows it increases gray matter in the brain, which benefits your memory and cognition.

To reap the benefits of meditation at work, start your morning with a quick meditation session. The meditation can be as simple as sitting up straight in bed and focusing on your breathing for a few minutes. If you feel like you need more, try a guided meditation video.  If you feel your focus slipping at work, close your eyes for a few moments and take a deep breath to bring your attention back to your duties.

2. Exercise

Exercise helps boost your brain’s ability to ignore distractions. Maintaining your weight is also a great way to keep your memory in top condition. 

Try to work out regularly or implement short bursts of activity during your workday to help give your brain a boost. A brisk walk around the parking lot on your lunch hour every day could be enough to improve your concentration and amplify your productivity. You could also develop a routine of visiting a gym before or after work. 

3. Develop willpower

To better hone your willpower, focus on one goal at a time. Be specific and clear about your goals and commit to them. Some of the previous tips naturally help strengthen willpower, such as meditation or setting a timer so you are only focused on a single task. The more you can develop your willpower and resist temptation, the more focused you will likely be.

Related: Setting Goals to Improve Your Career

4. Work on memorization

Memorization is not only great for retaining information, but it also exercises your memory muscles. Memorization can lead to increased vocabulary and improved writing. It can also help you stay focused on important tasks because you are used to working out your brain. Aim to memorize a poem, quote, verse or piece of trivia each week to help train your brain.

5. Read more

Even though access to reading material has increased exponentially with the rise of the digital age, the amount of time most people spend reading said material has not. More so, online scrolling habits tend to make people less engaged with written content.

Challenge yourself to read an actual book more often. In addition to reading and analyzing a book, try to read a couple of long articles each week. Concentrating on a longer book or article challenges your reading comprehension and forces you to pay attention. Over time, you will find yourself better able to focus on other tasks such as work assignments and even conversations.

6. Be more attentive

Practicing attentive listening is an essential interpersonal skill you will need in the workplace. Start being more attentive in the conversations you have with loved ones and coworkers. For instance, you could make it a point not to check your phone while you’re eating lunch with a colleague. Active listening involves listening with all the senses. You should use both verbal and nonverbal cues to convey your attentiveness to the speaker, including nodding your head, agreeing and maintaining eye contact.

7. Work when you are most productive

People do their best work when they are alert, so it is important to identify your most productive periods. This may mean you are more productive right after lunch as opposed to a coworker who always seems to finish their work early in the morning.

Learn to work with your body’s natural biorhythms. For instance, you might find your concentrate best in the late morning. Take note of the timeframes when you are at your peak productivity and try to work on key tasks that require your undivided attention during these times.

8. Know when to recharge

Productive workers know when to step back and leave an important task for another day. Try to avoid working overtime and only check company emails during work hours. Those who work from home may want to take a 20-minute nap in the afternoon to recharge. Even quick 30-second breaks throughout the day can help you regain focus and look at a task with refreshed concentration.

9. Declutter your surroundings

Set aside some time to declutter and organize your files and mail every day so your workspace is less distracting. If you have allowed paperwork to pile up, for instance, file the documents in a stacked tray or drawer until you are ready to work on them. This keeps your desk free from clutter so you can focus on the task at hand. Having personal effects on your desk is okay, but avoid displaying too many photos or collectibles. Ideally, you should declutter at the end of the workday so you can come in the next morning without feeling stressed or distracted.

10. Choose sound or silence

Some people work better in a completely quiet environment. Others cannot concentrate without background music. Learn whether silence or sound boosts your concentration and figure out how to implement it at work. For example, you might need a pair of noise-canceling headphones if you prefer silence but you work in an open office. If you work better with music, choose music you enjoy that does not feature distracting lyrics.

11. Set the ideal temperature

Feeling too hot or too cold can reduce your ability to concentrate. While you cannot control your company’s preset thermostat, you can keep a light sweater or desk fan on hand. In offices where the preset temperature is an issue for many employees, speak with your manager about setting a temperature that is most comfortable and conducive to productivity.

12. Eliminate distractions

Distractions impact work in many ways, and yet it is difficult to fully eliminate them. Checking your email, text messages, social media or favorite websites during the workday takes away from the time you could be spending completing a task. The key is to identify common distractions and eliminate them.

For example, if you are frequently distracted by your phone’s audible notifications, turn them off and put the phone out of sight. Additionally, uninstall any attention-diverting games and block non-work-related websites that compete for your attention.

13. Use a timer

Consider setting a timer for five minutes and concentrating only on work during that period of time. Even if your mind starts to wander, make it a point to shift back to the task at hand. When the timer goes off, take a two-minute break and then try it again. Each day, try adding another five minutes to the timer and an additional two minutes to your break time. Keep increasing your work time until you reach the level of productivity that’s best for your occupation.

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