Focus can feel extremely elusive at times. There are thousands of distractions vying for our attention on a daily basis, which often leaves us paralyzed and uncertain of where to direct our mental energy. But the right technology and innovation make all the difference.
The Fickleness of Focus
If you feel like your focus is lacking, you’re probably right. The world is a noisy place (and it’s becoming even more distracting by the day). Research shows that disruptions occur roughly every 12 minutes in the workplace (and every three minutes in university settings). So if you haven’t cultivated the ability to focus, your productivity will be severely hindered.
Focus is a fickle thing – often impacted by factors like a lack of sleep, an excess of information and stimuli, and even unbalanced brain chemistry as a result of poor diet and nutrition. Fatigue, stress, multitasking, boredom, and environmental factors (like loud noises or distracting conversations) can all make it tough to concentrate.
Improving Focus With Technology
Technology is often a stress catalyst. Ringing and dinging smartphones, real-time notifications, auto-play videos, endless-scrolling social media feeds – it can all be too much. But technology also has the potential to improve focus – when used correctly. With this in mind, here are several suggestions you can put into action:
- Noise Canceling Headphones
If you work in a noisy office environment (or find yourself trying to work from home directly alongside kids), having a pair of noise canceling headphones can be a life-saver. While not perfect, these headphones use a combination of careful acoustic design and active canceling tones (like white noise) to block out noise and create a soundproof environment. They’re great for open floor plan offices, home offices, coffee shops, airplanes, etc.
- Vagus Nerve Stimulation
Focus is often destroyed by the presence of stress (which is kicked into high gear by your body’s sympathetic nervous system). When stress is present, your mind and body enter into a hyper state and all systems are a “go.” The problem is that when stress is prolonged or chronic, it becomes difficult to wind down or focus on the tasks at hand. You need your parasympathetic nervous system to kick in and act as a brake – telling your mind to slow down.
One of the best ways to initiate the parasympathetic nervous system is through a process known as vagus nerve stimulation, or VNS. This safe/painless process uses targeted electrical stimulation to the vagus nerve, which in turn tells the brain to take a chill pill.
The easiest way to perform VNS is with a device like Xen by Neuvana. These sleek headphones work by stimulating the vagus nerve and improving focus (while also enhancing sleep and boosting mood). You can wear them while working, reading, or doing any mindful work.
- Office Pods
Many open floor plan offices are installing office pods as a way of giving employees “focus zones” where they can work unencumbered and free of distractions. These pods, which come in a variety of materials, typically look like large phone booths or enclosed cubicles. They feature soundproof material, comfortable seating, and lighting that’s properly optimized for focus.
- Internet-Blocking Applications
For some people, it’s not noise or external distractions in their immediate environment – it’s online distractions. In these cases, it’s helpful to have internet-blocking applications installed on your devices.
Focus apps like Freedom or Serene make it easy to block the sites you don’t want to visit (like social networking sites, shopping sites, or news sites). You can even customize them so that you can spend a certain amount of time on these sites each day without overdoing it.
In addition to using apps like these, you can always intentionally set up points of friction and speed bumps to prevent distractions from being so reachable. For example, prevent auto-login on social media and unsubscribe from email lists that send out sales and deals.
Give Your Focus a Boost
While there will always be certain limitations to how much the human brain can handle, you should do everything you can to concentrate better (and for longer periods of time). Learning how to properly use technology will give you a much better chance of successfully enhancing focus and improving productivity. Good luck!