The art of concentration is an important skill to master. Whether for studying, working or managing your home life, being able to concentrate and focus when you need to is often essential. This is especially true in roles such as that of a Legal Secretary, where attention to detail and fine-tuned organisation are paramount. There is so much advice out there on how to improve concentration. You may already be familiar with tips such as taking breaks, removing distractions and creating a designated work/study environment. These things often seem like common sense, and many people try their hardest to implement them, but are they enough?
You would definitely not be alone in finding that despite your best efforts, your concentration is still sometimes lacking. The fact is that a person’s ability to concentrate, and do it well, is often innate. No matter how much you work on controlling the external factors, there will still be things that you are not even aware of working against your being able to concentrate.
In this article we discuss these important internal factors that are often overlooked.
Constant sensory input
TV, loud music, social media and online games are all examples of sensory input that are present in most people’s daily lives. It is generally accepted that these types of input can distract or deduct from someone’s concentration. For this reason, they are often removed from a person’s environment when they need to focus. What is not so widely considered is the longer effects that this type of sensory input can have. How many of us use these types of activity to relax, switch off or “zone out”? We are effectively creating a habit of non-attention in our down time which can be hard to break.
If you are finding that your concentration has not been at the level you need it to be, seriously think about how you have been spending your down time recently. It may be time to switch up some of those activities. Take a walk, read a book, colour a picture or even bake a cake. You can still do the other things as well, but it’s about reducing the amount of time your brain is zoned out.
Lack of brain training
A few years ago, brain training games were very popular. The program would tell you your brain age based on your ability to solve problems and do tasks. You could then practise the game to reduce the “age” of your brain. Believe it or not, this was not a fad. Brain training exercises are really useful tools to aid concentration and memory, and to improve the general function of your brain.
A lack of concentration does not necessarily mean that you don’t use your brain enough, or that you have a “lazy” or “old” brain. It does indicate that your brain could benefit from a good workout with some brain training though. There are plenty of resources available online.
Concentration is essentially taking your mind off many things and putting it on one thing at a time. Multitasking is so often promoted as a great ability to have, and it can be, if it is done well. However, it can also leave a person feeling overwhelmed and unorganised. If you are the sort of person (and most Legal Secretaries will be) who has a to-do list as long as their arm, then it will be second nature to have multiple tasks happening at once. However, the key here is to remember that although these tasks are going on simultaneously, your brain should not be trying to focus on them all simultaneously.
Multitasking is really about being able to switch from one task to another quickly and back again when needed, so that multiple tasks are progressing within the same time scale. Your mind should be focused entirely on whatever task you are doing at that particular time, and ignoring all the others (for that moment at least). It is so often the case that people believe they are not concentrating or focusing properly, when in fact they are just trying to do too much at once, and not multitasking correctly.
As is so often the case, our physical well-being is directly linked to our mental well-being. Stress, hunger, tiredness, etc. all play on our mind and affect how we think and perform. So if you are busy and have a lot to focus on, make sure you are taking time to take care of yourself. Drink plenty of water and avoid dehydration. Water helps with energy levels and brain function. Make sure that you eat healthily. This will give you good energy and prevent “crashes”, and it will stop hunger from being a distraction. Finally, make sure you get enough sleep, as being tired will automatically reduce your ability to focus.