There’s never a shortage of distractions in today’s always-connected world – there’s social media, games, videos, noise, pets, kids, and more. How can you ever get things done when even the easiest tasks start to feel Herculean? To help you tick items on your to-do list, we’ve compiled several natural remedies for focus and concentration. Scroll down to know more!
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What is concentration?
By definition, concentration means “to focus and bring all efforts to bear on one thing or activity”. This means ignoring all distractions and putting all your attention on the task that needs to be accomplished (1).
Concentration is not an innate talent, it’s a skill that can be improved with patience and discipline. And, of course, with the help of the natural remedies for focus and concentration that we will be sharing below!
Why is concentration so important in everyday life?
Most – if not all – tasks require some level of concentration. In fact, many tasks require intense focus, and failure to do so may lead to costly mistakes, accidents, and even death!
Depending on the complexity or difficulty of the task at hand, you will need to block out some or all distractions to achieve something on your to-do list (a daily checklist can help boost productivity).
Being able to concentrate allows you to:
- Get things done more efficiently
- Make better use of available resources
- Solve problems faster
- Make fewer mistakes
- Save time so you can work on something else – or take a break early
- Think outside the box to get more creative ideas
- Make the right decisions
- Feel happiness and satisfaction from being productive
- Increase overall productivity
In short, the ability to focus and concentrate is essential for achieving great things and all kinds of success, whether it be personal, academic, business, or workplace-related!
Accomplish more in your day with these 8 natural remedies for focus and concentration
Staying on task is easier said than done. Don’t wait for fatigue and burnout before you try any of these tips:
1) Caffeine to set the mood for the day
I’m not much of a tea drinker, but I definitely am a coffee guzzler. It helps me – and millions of other people – start the day “right”. Caffeine is a mild stimulant that quickly boosts our alertness and energy levels (perfect for drinking in the morning – and evening if you like working at night).
But try not to go beyond 400mg of caffeine (that’s about 3-4 cups of brewed coffee) per day as too much of this stimulant can cause unwanted side effects, such as palpitations, anxiety, irritability, and tremors (2).
2) Eliminate the distractions
Look for a quiet area with minimal visual distractions. Think of a horse with blinders on – they only see what’s in front of them. Try facing the wall so you’re not tempted to look up every time someone goes through the door or passes by the window.
Turn off the TV and put your phone on silent mode. Try using noise-canceling headphones to block out sound. They’re not perfect by any means but they do help minimise noise from the outside world. Play some music that helps you focus and concentrate (I’m partial to lo-fi instrumental music).
Getting distracted by the smell of food happens to even the most focused person. Take breaks when necessary to satiate hunger pangs and food cravings. And don’t forget to stay hydrated and drink lots of water, too.
3) Use technology to your advantage
There are plenty of apps out there that can help you focus. On iOS, the built-in Focus mode lets you block unnecessary notifications. You can also use a Pomodoro timer, where you work for 25 minutes straight and then take a 5-minute break (timings can be adjusted according to your preference but 25-5 is the most common).
4) Get enough sleep
Sleep deprivation can magnify distractedness. This is particularly dangerous when driving a motor vehicle – a skill that requires alertness and focus (3). Take a break when you need to, especially if fatigue and lack of sleep can cause harm to you and the people around you.
5) Have a to-do list
This is one of the most practical natural remedies for focus and concentration. A daily list of things you need to finish in a day, preferably sorted by priority, can help you focus on the most important things. Start with the most urgent tasks on the list and strive to finish everything within the deadline.
6) Build good habits and routines
It’s fun to YOLO and leave everything to chance every once in a while, but for daily work, a routine is actually pretty important. It helps you organise your thoughts and actions and be more efficient at repetitive tasks. A predictable schedule limits procrastination, reduces stress levels, and helps you keep track of your goals.
7) Take breaks throughout the day
Working continuously with little to no break can quickly lead to burnout. It might sound counterintuitive, but breaks can actually help improve your mental well-being. A change of scenery can inspire you to come up with new ideas and think outside the box. More importantly, a well-timed break can help you re-focus and get back on track.
8) Use nootropics to help you focus and concentrate
We suggest staying away from nootropics that contain caffeine and/or stimulants as these can give you an artificial high. Instead, use natural nootropics that can help you focus, stabilise your mood and take the edge off anxiety.
For beginners, we suggest taking a single-ingredient, natural nootropic like Phosphatidylserine or Lion’s Mane mushrooms. Phosphatidylserine is a naturally occurring phospholipid in the body, with about 50% of it concentrated in our brains. Lion’s mane mushrooms are delicious mushrooms that can be taken in supplement form or eaten in dried or fresh form (here are our favorite lion’s mane mushroom recipes).
On the other hand, if you’ve had some experience with nootropics before and would like to try out a nootropic stack, check out Seneca Nootropic. It’s a non-stimulating supplement that contains herbal nootropics, amino acids, and B-complex vitamins – all well-researched ingredients chosen for their mental health benefits.
Nootropic stacks can have synergistic effects and may give you better results than using only one ingredient. It’s convenient because you don’t have to think about what to put in your stack. However, the lack of flexibility (can’t exactly remove an ingredient in a pre-made stack!) can be a downside if you’re not a fan of any ingredient in the stack.
Related blog post: What are nootropics and cognitive enhancing supplements?
What are examples of distractions in the workplace?
It’s okay to get distracted every once in a while – it’s important to live life and have fun, too! But having trouble concentrating when you really really need to can have negative repercussions. Lots of things can affect your ability to concentrate, for example:
Gadgets like smartphones, tablets, and televisions are probably the biggest culprits. Smartphones, in particular, are one of the first things people reach for when they wake up in the morning and one of the last things they put down before bed.
Here’s a very revealing infographic published by Reviews.org after surveying 1,000 American adults in 2021:
Lack of work-life balance
This form of distraction is especially common among those who work from home – supervising kids and pets, doing house chores, a lack of designated working space – all contribute to a lack of focus and poor performance.
According to National Geographic, noise pollution is an invisible danger that affects millions of people worldwide. It can cause health problems not only for humans but also for animals. Constant exposure to loud noise can cause stress, sleep problems, heart disease, and high blood pressure (4).
Multitasking is not inherently bad. In fact, juggling simple and repetitive tasks may help you work faster. However, attempting to do multiple things at once can negatively affect your productivity. For example, multitasking and/or getting distracted while driving or operating heavy machinery is very dangerous.
According to Hirsch and colleagues, multitasking can result in “substantial performance costs” for both genders. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, mistakes are more likely to happen when working on different tasks at the same time (5).
From hunger pangs to sudden emergencies and even the state of your mental and emotional health, there is certainly no shortage of distractions out there. But concentration is absolutely crucial to accomplishing tasks and succeeding in various activities.
We hope these natural remedies for focus and concentration gave you ideas on how to boost your performance and productivity the next time an important deadline comes up!
(1) “Definition of Concentrate.” Www.Dictionary.Com, www.dictionary.com/browse/concentrate. Accessed 20 Apr. 2022.
(2) “Caffeine.” The Nutrition Source, 12 Nov. 2020, www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/caffeine.
(3) de Mello, Marco Túlio et al. “Sleep disorders as a cause of motor vehicle collisions.” International journal of preventive medicine vol. 4,3 (2013): 246-57.
(4) National Geographic Society. “Noise Pollution.” National Geographic Society, 15 July 2019, www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/noise-pollution.
(5) Hirsch, Patricia, et al. “Putting a Stereotype to the Test: The Case of Gender Differences in Multitasking Costs in Task-Switching and Dual-Task Situations.” PLOS ONE, edited by Sam Gilbert, vol. 14, no. 8, 2019, p. e0220150. Crossref, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0220150.