How to stay focused

How to stay focused? Hardly any question is more important today than this one. Because fewer and fewer people can enjoy the luxury of taking lots of ‘off-time’. Even in our leisure time, we are faced with decisions like these: Should I deal with the latest novel, the football match at the weekend or the wedding of my best friend? What is decisive to me if I only have limited time and attention and cannot renew my energy like a perpetual motion machine? If I make the wrong decision, I am threatened with concentration problems or even a burnout.


How do you stay focused?

"Most of the time is lost because you don't think to the end." (Alfred Herrhausen)

Concentrated businessman in the office

Concentration is the ability to focus one's attention for a certain period of time. Work mistakes occur when you digress with your thoughts or when you are interrupted while working on tasks. Our brain needs a certain start-up time to be able to concentrate completely. From the beginning on we are susceptible to distractions, and the more we are disturbed, the longer the brain has to "warm up". In addition, the brain cannot immediately concentrate on a task after an interruption because it is occupied with other stimuli. By staying focused, you can achieve your goals faster and more effectively.

To improve this ability, ask yourself two questions: In which situations are you regularly interrupted? Who or what interrupts you?

Try to identify these factors by observing your work situations closely. Can regular disruptive factors be identified? For example, does the room in which you work offer many distractions or an atmosphere that hinders your concentration? Are you interrupted by frequent e-mails or calls?

It is important for you to answer these questions and then try to limit these factors as much as possible. Of course, you can't just turn off the phone or shut yourself off from any interference. You should, however, try to create clear working hours in which you only devote yourself to your task. This can be ten minutes in which you avoid reading your e-mails and other duties and concentrate on one thing only. Make room by clearing away unimportant things from your workplace. Stay focused and concentrate on the essentials.



Which factors influence the concentration?

People with a high degree of discrimination and the ability to prioritize are particularly well-placed to concentrate. This includes the ability to say "no", to deliberately hide things and concerns that are currently considered less important.

What is the relationship between concentration and memory?

Memory functions like the working memory of a computer. It holds all the information we currently need. These lines are also in your "memory" while you are reading them. The speed with which you process information and the ability to make decisions depend on this memory. However, each memory has limited capacity that we need to process and sort information. To hide something as a fault, you must first sort it out as unimportant. This is the key to staying focused.

Memory training can therefore involve arbitrarily hiding certain things. How difficult it can be not to think about a certain thing, can be summarized in the famous sentence: "Don't think about a white elephant".

To automatically hide unimportant things, you need a task that will work your brain to capacity instead of flooding it with information. The more complicated the task on which you have to concentrate, the easier it is for the unimportant not to dominate your attention. This also depends on the fact that the brain is working to full capacity. If it is "filled to the brim" with impressions, nothing can penetrate in the long term. Against this background, it is not surprising that a boring, simple task is done more incorrectly than a difficult one, which is exciting for it. Therefore, anyone who has difficulties staying focused on this should first consider whether his or her tasks are working to his or her full capacity.

Image source: Concentrated businessman. By Wavebreakmedia via