Focus exercises can help improve your concentration and time management skills, which can help you improve your work productivity and social interactions. Some exercises involve physical activity, while others may require you to be still. You can also perform many of these actions during your downtime or while transitioning from a workday to home. In this article, we discuss the definition of focus exercises, the benefits of focus exercises, why they are important, and list 9 focus exercises you can try.
What are focus exercises?
Focus exercises are activities you can do to improve your ability to concentrate. Some focus exercises concentrate on learning to optimize your time spent completing a task, while others can help you recall useful and important information. Like building muscle strength, learning how to focus takes energy, so practicing focus exercises can help your brain develop more stamina and think with more clarity.
Why are focus exercises important?
Job supervisors and classroom instructors often assign tasks with multiple steps, which can require a lot of focus. For instance, you may need to prepare a research bibliography and outline before you can start a drafting process for an essay. If you can fully concentrate on each step, you can plan the structure of your essay more effectively and may gain a deeper understanding of the material you’re researching.
Focus exercises can give you multiple adjacent skills that may help you successfully complete a task. These include prioritizing between multiple tasks, problem-solving, and decision-making. Focus exercises can also help you prevent distractions, including thoughts about future tasks and outside situations.
Benefits of focus exercises
Consider these benefits to learning a focus exercise:
- Work more efficiently: If you concentrate for longer periods of time, you can spend less time overall completing a project. This also gives you more opportunities to increase its quality.
- Gain self-confidence: Gaining some control over your daily schedule may help you feel more confident in being able to accomplish your goals.
- Reduce the impact of stress: Focusing skills may help you logically examine situations and identify details that could help you address them.
- Connect more with others: Being able to give a colleague, friend, or family member your full attention can help you bond more with them.
Here are 9 focus exercises you can do to improve your concentration abilities in the workplace and at home:
1. Make notes or a to-do list
Recording any activities you think about while performing a task can help you put them aside until you can complete them. For instance, you may receive an email notification about a situation that involves a task other than the one you’re already doing. Writing a reminder about the email lets you store the memory in an external location, which may give you more energy and stamina to concentrate on the current task.
2. Meditate for five minutes
Meditation is a bodily practice that can help you learn how to focus your attention and remain calm. Meditation techniques often involve regulating your breath and observing your thoughts. To meditate, try sitting down in a quiet location. Set a timer for five minutes and observe your breathing. This practice can help you regulate your emotional responses and better understand how you think, which can help you learn how to concentrate on a task.
3. Read a long book
Books with a high word count require a lot of sustained focus for long periods of time. Consider recalling the plot and character attributes after finishing each chapter. Using your knowledge of the story, decide the best way it could continue. Write those plot points down and assess your decisions. Engaging with a story can be an exciting way to increase your concentration, learn how to process complex information and decide whether that information is helpful or relevant.
4. Exercise your body
Strength training and other forms of exercise can help you develop discipline and feel more energized. These attributes can help you sustain focus, particularly during a high-concentration event or job interview. Try dedicating 15 or 30 minutes a day to a physical activity you enjoy doing. This can be a walk around a certain location or perhaps dancing to a favorite song.
5. Practice active listening
Active listening is a skill where you focus on the contents of the conversation to offer meaningful responses. To practice active listening, try pausing after your conversation partner speaks to comprehend their words and think about your response. You can try nodding your head or saying affirming words while they’re talking to encourage yourself to stay present in the conversation.
6. Try a counting game
If you enjoy numbers or mathematics, you may also like a focus exercise based on counting. You can try this exercise anywhere, so it can be a helpful option if you have a busy schedule. Try counting backward in your mind from 100 to 1. Then, try it again but skip every three numbers. Once you can accomplish this more smoothly than before, try skipping every five numbers. Another option you can try is counting the number of words in a book or article and trying to recall that number later on.
7. Memorize patterns
This game uses direct memory recall to train your focusing abilities. Try putting objects into a row on a flat surface. Then cover them with a blanket or sheet of paper so you can’t see the objects anymore. Try to recall what objects were in the row and in what order they appeared. You can then write the objects down in a list or draw them. Keep track of how much time you spend remembering the objects and record your accuracy. To increase the difficulty, add more objects to the original row.
8. Complete a crossword puzzle
Crossword puzzles are word-based puzzle games that involve a grid of blank squares in vertical and horizontal formations. Your goal is to match a set of clues to specific words that fit each letter perfectly into the squares. If you enjoy riddles and learning unfamiliar words, you may enjoy a crossword puzzle. You can often find crossword puzzles in newspapers or on the internet, or you can buy a book of crossword puzzles at a bookstore. Try completing a puzzle once a week and track whether the time you spend decreases.
9. Visualize an object
This is the practice of examining an object and recalling it in your mind later on. If you enjoy painting or another artistic craft, you may enjoy this technique. Pick up a piece of fruit and examine all its available details. Move it around in your hands to examine its shape and observe how it smells. After you memorize the image, take a bite to memorize the taste. A few days later, try to visualize all the aspects of the fruit you mentally recorded.