Focus and concentration can be real challenges when you have ADHD. Whether personal or business orientated, the ability to focus our attention on our daily tasks is the lynchpin of a productive and healthy lifestyle. In order to become who we want to be, we must do–there’s no avoiding this fact.
There are various reasons why someone may be lacking the focus and concentration to complete their daily tasks. Underlying conditions like ADHD, sleep apnea, and depression can alter our rest and mood. Without proper action, this can lead to laziness, procrastination, and even unhealthy coping mechanisms like drugs and alcohol.
If you’re one of the many struggling with getting things done, then worry not. You must take your mental health seriously, and a lack of focus could signify that you need some additional help. An online ADHD diagnosis may help put you on the right path, but we also must look at our daily habits and find where we’re getting stuck. The ADHD focus strategies here are tested and true. Give one or all of them a shot and see which fits your workflow the best.
1. Improve ADHD focus with regular exercise
Regular physical activity releases chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters. Of those chemicals, dopamine, and norepinephrine play the most prominent role. When our bodies encounter physical exertion, the baseline levels of our neurotransmitters increase, stimulating the birth of new receptors in the brain.
When you exercise, you essentially create new pathways in the brain for information to travel, helping improve your cognition and the speed at which you process information.
If that’s not enough to convince you to dust off the treadmill, the University of British Columbia found that exercise increases the size of the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for verbal memory and learning.
Add to this the plethora of studies showing that the parts of the brain controlling cognition (prefrontal cortex, medial temporal cortex) see an increase in volume after exercise, and you have no reason not to splurge on jogging shorts.
2. Time for Deep Work helps improve ADHD focus
Another way to improve ADHD focus is noted in Sophie Leroy’s 2009 study on task switching and attention residue. This study has received much attention thanks to productivity writers Cal Newport and James Clear. The takeaway from the research is that multitasking isn’t an effective strategy for completing tasks.
This brings us to Newport’s concept of Deep Work, a productivity strategy devised to fight back against the urge to doom scroll through Instagram while on deadline. Deep Work centers around set periods of intense concentration upon one task only. Here are the benefits of Deep Work, from Newport’s original 2012 blog on the subject:
- Continuous improvement of the value of your work output.
- An increase in the total quantity of valuable output you produce.
- Deeper satisfaction (aka., “passion”) for your work.
Check out Newport’s awesome work for more productivity tips to see if applying it can improve your ADHD focus when you apply it to your daily routine.
3. Use the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique has been around since the 1980s when Francesco Cirillo based the method on one he employed in college. Pomodoro isn’t as intense as Deep Work but involves a similar system of intervals. The only thing you need is a stopwatch or timer (the one on your phone works just fine).
Here’s how to apply Cirillo’s popular technique:
- Set the timer to 25 minutes
- Work undisturbed until the timer rings
- Take a five-minute break
- Start another 25-minute session
- Take another five-minute break.
- Repeat as many times as necessary
- Do it again tomorrow
The trick is to schedule the appropriate number of intervals to ensure your work bouts are undisturbed. The breaks allow you to take a much-needed brain breather, leaving you refreshed for the next go-round. Give it a shot and see if it increases your effectiveness at work.
4. Warren Buffet’s 2 List Strategy
Goal-setting and writing to-do lists are tasks that make us feel good, and accomplished even. But, when push comes to shove and it’s time to work, will we be strong enough to avoid the numerous distractions the day brings?
That’s the idea behind Warren Buffet’s 2 List strategy.
As the story goes, Buffet asked his long-time pilot to make a list of the top 25 things he’d like to accomplish in his lifetime–a bucket list essentially.
After the pilot jotted them down, Buffet told him to circle the five most important items. The pilot understood that these were his priorities, and the other 20 items could be chipped away at intermittently.
He didn’t truly understand Buffet’s intention with the exercise, though. Buffet instructed him to avoid, at all costs, the 20 items he didn’t circle. Forget about them. Toss them in the garbage.
“They’ll just be distractions,” he told the man.
The lesson Buffet was imparting is this: our brain’s bandwidth only stretches so far. Prioritize and then stick with three to five things you can handle effectively, then toss the rest away until they are complete.
Give it a try for a week and see if it’s easier and more effective to go deeper on three to five goals than more comprehensive with less focus. Try any of the above strategies for a week. Your to-do list will thank you.
About the Author
Thanks to Jenn Walker for this guest post. Jenn is a freelance writer, blogger, dog-enthusiast, and avid beachgoer operating out of Southern New Jersey.