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Can you stay focused when you want?

Kirjoittanut: Xiaoqing Yang-Pyydysmäki - tiimistä FLIP Solutions.

Esseen tyyppi: Blogiessee / 1 esseepistettä.
Esseen arvioitu lukuaika on 4 minuuttia.

Have you had such an experience with doing a task such as writing a report or an essay, it takes some hours, and the efficiency of different people varies greatly. Some people can concentrate on the work fast and complete it in a short time, while some people can’t focus, and it takes even days for them to accomplish it. Have you wondered why it likes this? Another example is about reading a book, you spend the same amount of time, some people progress it faster and obtain the knowledge deeper. After you finish the same reading, you feel like you don’t gain much, and it is difficult to share it with others. What is the reason behind this?

Loss of focus and constant interruptions has become major problems in our modern day-to-day life. Continuous distractions lead us to multitask and hard to concentrate on one thing. Reconnecting with our original track of thoughts takes even more time. We have been told to “concentrate” in many circumstances where we are not taught how to do so. Very often, we do not realize how important staying focused is.

In the early 90s, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett were invited for an evening dinner. The host asked his guests that “What factor do you feel has been the most important in getting to where you’ve gotten in life?” Buffett immediately replied, “Focus.” Bill Gates agreed. (Zitelmann, 2019)

Staying focused is how to succeed in business and life (Bresadola,2022). An individual can concentrate, it refers to an individual’s capacity to choose what they pay attention to and what they ignore. (Wiki. 2022)

When people stay focused on a task, they can complete more tasks in a short time and have more time to do something else. On the contrary, if a person cannot concentrate, they will need double or triple time, and hard to follow the schedule.  It is not about how much time you spend but how well you can control your focus. Except increase productivity, staying focused can reduce stress and get more satisfaction. After completing the assignments, you free up more time slots and the anxiety gets released.

Many articles and books are talking about how to improve focus. Same as other self-management tools and methods, it is very varied by people. When it fits for others, it might not fit for you. I will share some tips and practices that are working for me. I am still looking for and trying more, hope you can find yours.

Find peace of mind and build inner comfort

Create a clean and comfortable area where you can work efficiently. Comfortable seats, a drink that makes you feel good, and music that can make you quickly enter the mood. There are lots of studying music on the internet. I have tried many, lately, the relaxing jazz with fireplace or raining sound effects are my favourite. It can easily get my attention on the assignment.

Understand changes in your focus, accept yourself and just do it

Observe what you are easily distracted by, the peak time of concentration during the day, and then it is easier to avoid distraction when you want to focus on something. Also, save your most focused hours for those urgent important tasks. Sometimes, it is better to just do it than to put too much energy into figuring out how you can stay focused. The flow will only come when you take action.

Avoid disturbing

Turn off the notification on your laptop and cellphone. Set silent mode to the electronic devices except for studying music. This is to reduce the stimuli from outside.

Proper break

Different scientific studies show different amounts of time the human brain can focus. The article What Is Considered a Normal Attention Span? (2022) tells that in most cases average adult can concentrate on a task for around 15 to 20 minutes.  Where some research says we can concentrate for no longer than 90 minutes before a 15-minutes break. (Caroline,2017). But there are differences between people, you might as well test your concentration span, and then follow it with a proper break.

Pomodoro Technique

It is a time management technique based on 25-minute intervals of work and 5-minute breaks that help you to concentrate with no distractions. A longer break might need after several rounds. It is the method that works for me. The setting timer is a bit complicated move when you are in the flow of concentration. But when I get used to it, the little pressure of time tends to make me concentrate faster.  The 5-minute break is reasonable. Before being particularly distracted, the brain will continue to return to a state of high concentration after short relaxing.

Dividing tasks

Most hard tasks are not attractive, so we can try to increase the attractiveness by making the goal explicit. Divide the tasks into small pieces and complete them one by one according to the plan.

In the end

In addition to the above methods, sufficient sleep and regular exercise are also very important. To work and study efficiently, staying highly concentrated can be learned and improved. I might not pay attention to it as a matter before, but I would like to share my initial research and experience with you.


Astle, D. E.; Scerif, G. (2009). “Using Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience to Study Behavioral and Attentional Control”. Developmental Psychobiology. 51 (2): 107–118.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attentional_control . Read on 6th Dec 2022.

Bresadola, T. (2022). Why Staying Focused Is Key to Success https://www.rollingstone.com/culture-council/articles/staying-focused-is-key-to-success-1320967/. Read on 6th Dec 2022.

Caroline, Williams. (2017) Five ways science can improve your focus – BBC Worklife https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20170925-the-surprising-tricks-to-help-you-focus-at-work Read on 7th Dec 2022.

The attention span of humans: When do our brains switch off the most? (2022). https://www.lenstore.co.uk/eyecare/attention-span-of-humans Read on 6th Dec 2022.

Zitelmann, Rainer (2019) What Focus Really Means: Learning From Bill Gates, Warren Buffett And Steve Jobs.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/rainerzitelmann/2019/10/28/what-focus-really-means-learning-from-bill-gates-warren-buffett-and-steve-jobs/?sh=244d5c073fc8 Read on 6th Dec 2022.

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