A lot of people find it hard to concentrate, so you are not alone. They complain of low concentration and they wonder what they should do. There are a few things I can recommend if you’re struggling with low concentration.

1. Keep your stomach satisfied.

Hunger is something that causes low concentration. It is paramount to focus on whether you have fed your brain because feeding your brain is necessary in order to be able to concentrate. You don’t have to eat a lot, but having some protein in your body is important for concentration.

I think that people shouldn’t diminish the importance of food and eating something, a little bit, a few times a day. This can be either grazing or eating a small portion. You should tryto have some kind of meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner to keep your brain fed, especially if you are trying to concentrate. Try not to skip meals.

2. Get enough shut-eye.

Sleep is extremely important for concentration. A lot of people have poor sleep hygiene. They don’t sleep enough hours or they’re not getting restful sleep. If you’re suffering from sleep deprivation, that’s something you need to address and try to figure out the optimal number of hours of sleep you need.

Most people should get somewhere between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. You can usually figure out what your sleep target is by just laying down. If you fall asleep in a few seconds, then you’re probably sleep deprived. If you lay down and it takes you more than 20 minutes to fall asleep, then you’re probably getting too much sleep. If you lay down and it takes you about 5-10 minutes to fall asleep, then you’re probably hitting your sleep target.

For example, if you regularly get seven hours of sleep, lay down, and if it takes you 5-10 minutes to fall asleep, then seven hours is probably your target sleep range. But if you’re sleeping for seven hours and you fall asleep in two seconds, then you probably need more sleep than seven hours.

Staying on a regular sleep schedule is essential. Trying to catch up on your sleep is not recommended. It’s more important to try to stay on a regular sleep schedule, as opposed to staying up for many, many hours and hoping that you can catch up on a weekend with a lot of sleep. Brains don’t operate as well on irregular sleep schedules like that.

3. Know when to take a break.

Taking breaks can help to boost concentration. When people are faced with daunting tasks that are going to take a very long period of time, it makes it very hard to concentrate. I recommend using some kind of timer to plan your next break. Think about a reasonable amount of time to sit and then set a timer for that amount of time. When it goes off, take a break.

If, for some reason, the timer goes off and you don’t want to stop, it’s okay. You know that you’ve earned the break and you can stop whenever you are ready. When you take a break, it shouldn’t be longer than 5 or 10 minutes. It’s really important during that 5 or 10 minutes not to pick an immersive activity. For example, don’t start watching Netflix during that 5 or 10 minute break. Do something active like taking a walk, do jumping jacks or sit-ups, something active. Or listen to music for 5 or 10 minutes before you sit down. Then set the timer again, and work on another chunk of material.

This will make you feel like you’re getting something done before you reward and reinforce yourself with a break. This will help avoid feeling the project is too daunting for you.

Work within the bounds of your attention span by owning the truth of your attention span. Try not to fight against your attention span. Using the timer to break the task down into chunks at a time is a way that will improve your concentration. If you try all of these things and you’re still having difficulty with low concentration, an evaluation by your doctor or mental health professional probably would be useful. You need to make sure that  there’s not something biochemical interfering with your attention.

Originally published on Quora and featured on Forbes.


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