If you had to guess, how long do you think you can focus on one task without getting distracted? With emails and Facebook notifications popping up on your screen, not to mention the temptation of checking What’s App messages or news alerts on your phone, it’s much harder than you think to stay focused.
Most of us check our phone at least 28 times a day and spend well over 60 minutes on it. Don’t believe me? Download Moment, a phone app that tracks your daily phone usage and highlights just how much you use it. Aside from avoiding your phone though, how else can we stay focused and boost our productivity levels?
Working longer hours won’t work
It would be easy to assume that working longer hours will counteract our inability to stay on track and boost our overall productivity. But if anything, that makes you less productive. According to Expert Market, Luxembourg is the most productive nation with individual productivity equating to £51.80 per hour and an average working week of 29 hours. Norway earns £39.72, which is more than twice the amount of UK (£17.37). Yet Norwegians work 4.6 hours a week less than Brits.
Silicon Valley’s solution
Nootropics or ‘smart drugs’ that promise to enhance your cognitive functions have been gaining popularity in the US over the past few years. While a lot of these were initially designed to help with health issues, including overcoming excessive tiredness or treating ADHD, the cocktail of brain stimulating ingredients has enticed those looking to up their creativity and focus. If you’ve seen Limitless, you’ll have some understanding.
The spectrum of nootropics ranges from prescription level Adderall and Ritalin to much milder forms, such as caffeine and nicotine. In Silicon Valley, nootropics are widely taken and come in the form of pills, injections and shots. Such is the strong following, there are a handful of ‘smart drugs’ that formulated in Silicon Valley.
There is very little research into any of these drugs though, especially what the long-term effects are. As they’re marketed as supplements rather than health products, nootropics bypass the scrutiny of the FDA in the States. In the UK, most ‘smart drugs’ are available by prescription only.
There are some natural remedies that can help look after your brain. Shabir has written extensively about the powers of Dopa-Mind in his piece, How To Boost Brain Power. With wild green oats, Dopa-Mind helps prevent the loss of dopamine and support your brain.
While it’s not as simple as popping a pill, research has shown that breaking your day up into segments and improving your time management, including taking regular breaks, can improve productivity.
Following a study by the Draugiem Group, it’s thought that 52 minutes is the maximum amount of time our brain can focus fully on one task before we need to take a short break.
The break can be as short as five minutes and can include idly chatting to a colleague or taking a short walk, but it doesn’t include scrolling through your Instagram feed or catching up on emails. You need to step away from your screen for your brain to register a break. It’s a technique that professional chess players employ too.
It’s not rocket science but getting the right amount of sleep can improve your concentration levels two-fold. It also increases your patience levels and lowers stress. However, ensuring you get enough shut-eye every night can be tricky. Simple tweaks like switching off your smartphone and tablet an hour before bed, making sure your bedroom is dark and avoiding sugar and caffeine in the evenings, can help.
However, if you struggle to drift off it might be worth looking into Cherry Night by Viridian. Cherries are a natural source of melatonin, the sleep hormone, and the powder also contains magnesium, which boosts melatonin levels and helps you relax. The powder should be mixed into water or juice and drunk an hour before bed. It does take time to build-up your melatonin levels, but within a couple of weeks you should be sleeping better at night and have more focus throughout the day.