If you can’t remember what you’ve read, or conversations with friends go in one ear and out the other, the problem might not be your memory. You may have trouble paying attention instead.
Here are the most common reasons people have trouble concentrating and how you can overcome them to have a better memory.
8 Reasons You Can’t Concentrate
Being distracted is natural. Under the right circumstances it could be a survival mechanism. If you’re so engrossed in your smartphone that you don’t notice a robber sneaking up on you, you may not live to text another day.
Distractions are everywhere and technology compounds the problem. There are emails to be read, text messages to respond to, and phones to answer. Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest beckon!
Multitasking is a myth. You don’t actually do several things at once, you quickly toggle back and forth between tasks. You can do unconscious tasks such as walk and talk at the same time, but once it gets more complicated than that, you are sacrificing the efficiency of doing one task for another. Weird as it may seem, lack of mindfulness in the present has even been found to promote cellular aging.
If your hearing isn’t up to par, just the act of listening takes more mental energy. This leaves you less able to remember what you’ve heard.
The same applies to vision problems. As you get older, you may find your arms have gotten too short. ;-) It may be time for some reading glasses.
If you didn’t get enough sleep last night or suffer with low-level chronic lack of sleep, you’ll have a hard time concentrating and will find regular trips to Starbucks to be in order.
Let’s face it — some topics are just boring. So are some people. When you’re bored, your brain is disengaged and you shouldn’t expect to remember much.
If you are stressed out, you won’t be able to give anything your mental all. Your concentration will be flying off in different directions instead of focusing on the now.
Underlying cognitive issues
If you’re one of the millions of adults with ADD or ADHD, paying attention can be a constant challenge.
Common Sense Concentration Tips
Here are some common sense tips that will make it easier for you concentrate, think, and remember.
- Do one thing at a time. Forget trying to multitask. Give your undivided attention to whatever you are doing or whoever you are with.
- Minimize distractions. If you’re on your computer, close out your email so you aren’t tempted to check on it. If you are lunching with a friend, turn off your cell phone so you won’t have one eye on your messages.
- If you can’t concentrate for long periods of time, break tasks up into short time increments and work in bursts. Set a kitchen timer and refuse to be interrupted for a set period of time. You’d be amazed at how much you can get done in a short time if you give it 100%. I use this technique when writing posts.
- Work with your biorhythm. When you have tasks that require the most concentration, do them when you are at your most mentally alert.
- Know what environment you need to work most efficiently. Some people need total silence; others work best with background music or the hum of a fan.
- Get in the habit of recording things you want to remember! It doesn’t matter whether you use pencil and paper, an electronic organizer, or a digital sound recorder, as long as you make to-do lists and keep an appointment calendar. Knowing these things are recorded frees up your attention for everything else.
- There are many tricks of the trade to make life easier and smoother in Work Smarter, Not Harder, With These Memory Improvement Tips. Use these and free up your brain for better things!
Train Your Brain to Focus
The ability to concentrate is a skill that you can learn. Here are three of the top ways to train your brain to focus.
- Sign up for a brain training program like Anti-Aging Games. This program consists of fun games designed to help adults improve their memory and focus.
- The time-honored practice of meditation is one of the best ways to tame distractions, improve focus, and reduce stress. Meditation teaches you to live in the now. If you aren’t thinking about the past or the future, you’ll be able to concentrate on your present.
- Art enhances cognitive abilities and memory, even for people with serious brain conditions. Whether it’s painting, photography, dancing or music, embracing your inner artist is one of the most pleasurable and satisfying ways to train your brain. You may even find yourself “in the zone” — a place where you are so focused that you have lost all sense of time. This is the ultimate state of concentration.
Our Best Recommendations for Brain Health
Legacy Learning Systems Learn & Master
Arts learning programs
Legacy Learning provides state-of-the-art, self-paced learning courses for a variety of arts-based activities. Unlike online-based programs and private or group lessons, Legacy's courses make learning these skills easy, fun and very affordable. And they really work. Learning of all kinds, and especially learning involving art, music and dance, is simply great brain training and leaves you with a skill that you can build on and enjoy forever. Try the sample lessons, then make a great investment in your brain's future.
Brain training games
VIP Savings - 23% Off
Meditation technology program
Experience the benefits of deep meditation in a matter of minutes. Beautiful, relaxing music combined with revolutionary sound technology results in a powerfully effective meditation experience. Sign up for "The Balance", a free meditation designed to reduce stress, while increasing focus and balance in your life.
Personal biofeedback device
This small, simple but powerful handheld device helps you reduce stress, balance emotions, improve health and boost mental performance. Uses visual feedback to change your heart rhythm. HeartMath is the leader in innovative personal stress reduction solutions using emWave technology.