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4 Techniques to Boost Your Concentration and Productivity in 15 Minutes or Less

Topics: Career Advice

Are you having one of those days where it seems like you cannot fully get into your work? If your concentration level is about a one on a scale of 10, and you can’t seem to complete a single task to save your life, then don’t worry – it happens to the best of us. Here are four odd, yet effective techniques to help get your mind out of that haze and into gear so that you can have a constructive and productive day.


(Photo Credit: Leo Hidalgo/Flickr)

There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a fog at work, especially when you have deadlines to meet. Those types of days can seem like endless torture as you continually find your mind drifting off to everything else other than work. If and when you find yourself plagued by one of those never-ending, distraction-filled days, then try out one or all of the techniques listed below:

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1. Watch videos of cute, baby animals.

Before you dismiss this piece of advice, you should consider the numerous studies that prove that looking at cute things improves your mood and focus. For instance, take the study conducted by Japanese researchers at Hiroshima University that found that “participants performed tasks requiring focused attention more carefully after viewing cute images” of puppies and kittens.

Essentially, people have a predisposition to respond positively to a set of features (a.k.a. “baby schema”) that are common among baby animals: “a large head relative to the body size, a high and protruding forehead, large eyes, and so forth.” When we view cute animals, it triggers the reward system of our brain that can make people more “physically tender in their motor behavior,” says the study. Therefore, the next time you find your brain checking out at work, try stimulating your brain with some cuteness for a change.

2. Meditate or take a cat-nap.

It might seem counterproductive to quiet your mind with meditation or a nap in order to induce productivity, but research shows that they have been proven to boost concentration, mood, and well-being. Sometimes the noise and stress of the office can be distracting, so the next time your brain shuts down before it’s time to ship out, consider taking a 15-minute break to rest your mind, body, and soul.

If you have difficulty falling asleep during the day (or not in your own bed), then meditation is a great way to balance your breathing, bring your awareness back to the present, and enhance productivity. You don’t have to be a yogi to make mediation work for you, either. The point is to give your mind some quiet time to focus on something other than work, and also to gain some mindfulness to help you get through the day (and your career).

3. Do something creative that you enjoy.

Even if you’re in the creative field, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re working on projects that make you tick. Your creativity might be stifled by not being stimulated, so try doing something creative that you know you’ll enjoy. For instance, if you’re an artist, then throw on some of your favorite music and start doodling on a piece of paper. If you’re not the creative type, then go online and watch videos of other people being creative. You’d be surprised how soothing and therapeutic it is to watch videos of calligraphers, painters, and other types of artists create incredible pieces of work in minutes.

You may even want to pick up a book or magazine and read for a bit. Changing stimulus by reading is a great way to trick your brain into doing something productive without the constant frustration of losing focus. Indulge in something inspirational that will motivate you and uplift your spirits so that you can transition back into the groove of work seamlessly. Skim through this list of inspiring quotes to boost productivity to see if it helps.

4. Clean up your workspace.

An unkempt desk can be more detrimental to your career than you may think (however, there is an exception if you’re in the creative field). For most professionals, clutter is productivity’s worst nightmare because “the chaos restricts your ability to focus” and “limits your brain’s ability to process information,” Unclutterer says, in reference to a Princeton University study. In fact, the study concluded, “[I]f you want to focus to the best of your ability and process information as effectively as possible, you need to clear the clutter from your home and work environment.”

Therefore, if you feel like you’ve hit a roadblock in your day and can’t seem to find your way out, then consider taking a quick break to organize your workspace … and organize your mind. However, if you find that you’re experiencing more dysfunctional days at work than not, then you may want to consider creating an entirely fresh, new workspace to change things up a bit.

Whatever you do…

don’t beat yourself up over your lack of concentration or productivity – it’s simply part of life. As time goes on, you’ll learn what does and doesn’t work for you, so you can get back on track much quicker. Remember, we all have those days where we struggle with this, that, or the other, so just know that you’re in good company and keep your head up. There’s always tomorrow. You’ve got this.

Tell Us What You Think

What do you do to snap out of it when you’re having one of those days? Share your pearls of wisdom with our community on Twitter, or leave a comment below. We’d love to hear what you have to say.

Leah Arnold-Smeets
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