Can’t Focus? Try 3 Proven Brain Hacks
Updated: Jul 22
“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four-hour days.”
- Zig Ziglar
If you’re like me, you get easily distracted via notifications, invites, and emails during work sessions.
You multi-task and try to get various things done simultaneously. Your partner keeps calling you while working at home and slack channels are full of red alerts. At the same time, you’re anxious to push this article out.
If you’ve ever experienced this and had problems focusing, here’s a treat for you. What if there was a simple way to break this bad habit?
Say goodbye to countless hours of work but no sense of accomplishment.
Let’s dive in. 🌊
1. Time block
“The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.”
- Bruce Lee
According to Sophie Leroy’s research, a business professor at the University of Minnesota, “a residue of your attention remains stuck thinking about the original task — in other words, your attention remains divided”.
Like a battery, you only have a finite amount of attention and focus you can give to things during a given day. Each time you “switch to a new task — even if it’s just quickly reading a Tweet — depletes your reserves”. And it’s extremely difficult to recharge that battery midday.
Paul Dola, a behavioural economist, found that “the cost of ‘distraction' to US businesses" are at "$600 bn per year and the cost to UK businesses around £10,000 per employee”.
So instead of constantly switching back and forth between work, try time blocking instead.
Here’s an example if you’re a writer:
Block out 2 – 3 hours to write
Do nothing else during the work
Ignore all messages and invites
Pro tip: let your loved ones know that you’re checking out for a few hours
This will help you enter a flow state, deeply concentrating on the work to be done.
2. Go airplane
What if you did set time blocks in your calendar but rarely keep it? You just watch the schedule go by without following even the 10% of daily commitments?
Try your phone’s innate airplane mode.
Block out all notifications and make sure you’re off the grid. This enables your time block to work like magic. If you can also do this on your work computer / laptop, that’s gravy. Pro tip
You don’t need to stick to the schedule 100% of the time
If you don’t feel like working for 2 hours, just do 30 minutes
3. Engineer your mood with tunes
“Life seems to go on without effort when I am filled with music.”
- George Eliot
Binaural beats between 10-30 hz.
That’s the sweet spot to engineer your mood for focus. I's mind boggling how effective ‘sounds’ are at triggering your mind into any mental states.
Stay away from lyrical music though. Try searching Brain.fm focus on YouTube. They provide some excellent beats.
If you want music that’s enjoyable, you could always go for lo-fi.
According to Kevin Woods, a PHD in auditory neuroscience and Brain.fm’s director of science, lo-fi isn't applying sound frequency to help you focus. Rather, its music theory of effective mood-setting and artistry that helps you relax and focus. Hence, the recent surge in popularity.
Time block– Airplane mode – Sound engineering
“Don’t dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer.” - Denis Waitley
Here’s the recap
Time block your calendar
Go airplane model
Listen to binaural beats (10-30hz) or lofi chill tunes
Start with the above to focus better. They are quick, easy, and don’t cost a dime.