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Published on April 19, 2021

5 Ways Meditation Improves Your Daily Focus and Concentration

5 Ways Meditation Improves Your Daily Focus and Concentration

Have you ever felt so overwhelmed by something that you just couldn’t focus or concentrate on anything at all? Every so often, this also happens to me. In fact, it happens to the best of us. And if your lifestyle is anything like mine, you work hard and play hard, always trying to perform at peak performance, always trying to make the most out of every opportunity that comes your way, and determined to accomplish whatever it is that you put your mind to—no matter how many obstacles get in your way.

Nevertheless, regardless of your mental acumen and acuity—after all is said and done—you are only human, you can only do so much and go so far without having to take a break every now and then to recharge. Not to mention the fact that there is only so much time in the day to accomplish everything on your to-do list.

I know you’re busy, but so am I. But hopefully, by this stage in your life, you would agree that life is more like a marathon rather than a sprint. We all have to find a way to somehow pace ourselves accordingly so that we don’t inadvertently run out of mental steam before the finish line.

As a professional mental health interventionist and licensed psychotherapist, I have had the unique opportunity to work with some very successful and even a few well-known clients who have found themselves struggling in one way or another with any combination of mental health and substance disorders, with issues that clearly transcend all socioeconomic levels. Although I never actually plan to trade foreign currencies in London—or become a market-maker of integrated industrial circuitry in San Francisco for that matter—I have learned a lot of practical life lessons working with my clients.

One of the most significant lessons has been how important it is to find a way to budget your time wisely so that you can increase your productivity while having enough time to reflect and enjoy your desired quality of life, all somehow without the risk of burning out. In other words, success does not have to come at the expense of your own mental health.

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With that being said, fortunately, meditation happens to be one of the most powerful, easily accessible, and cost-effective introspective tools available to help you gain the cognitive clarity and sharpness to successfully balance your precious time. Below are five ways that meditation helps you improve your daily focus and concentration.

1. Meditation Unclutters Your Mind

Meditation helps you improve your daily focus and concentration by uncluttering your mind. Similar to a computer, after downloading enough large files onto the hard drive in your mind—at one point or another—you will probably feel as though your mind has run out of free space to store any more information, thereby potentially overloading your own unique internal operating system.

It happens to the best of us, myself included. As a result, just like a computer, our performance diminishes, along with our mental health. We all have our limits. Mediation essentially provides a neurosensory pathway to archive important files while deleting obsolete and sometimes even intrusive data.

2. Meditation Liberates Your Thoughts From Past Traumas

Meditation helps you improve your daily focus and concentration by liberating your thoughts from past traumas. A traumatic event is usually characterized by something shocking to witness, marked by a sense of horror, helplessness, or by the threat of serious injury or death. Many people who have witnessed a traumatic event are negatively impacted long after the incident occurred by a condition that is commonly known as post-traumatic stress disorder. Many people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder experience flashbacks, insomnia, and generalized anxiety.[1]

With guided meditation, you may be able to effectively work through the trauma by learning to let go of the specific circumstances surrounding the traumatic event that has negatively impacted your life. In essence, meditation can help you make peace with the past so that you live in the here and now with clarity and ultimately without fear.

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3. Meditation Highlights the Impact of Maladaptive Belief Systems

Meditation helps you improve your daily focus and concentration by highlighting the impact of maladaptive belief systems. In one way or another, we are all products of our environment. Our belief systems are built upon the world that we live in and the information that we can access. Only through global exploration did everyone finally accept the fact that the world was not flat.

We all have the capacity to change the way we think, become more insightful, and be more aware of our surroundings. Meditation can provide a transcendental out-of-body perspective on any given subject with a more transparent line of sight well above the proverbial forest. Mediation can help provide you with the mental acuity to look at any given situation from multiple perspectives, which ultimately enhances your capacity to adapt to change.

4. Meditation Helps You Separate Yourself From Unhealthy Distractions

Meditation helps you improve your daily focus and concentration by enabling you to separate yourself from less critical and sometimes unhealthy distractions that tend to impede your ability to maintain healthy relationships with others and function independently.

As a professional addiction counselor, many of my clients have actually been able to use guided meditation to effectively work through cravings to use mood-altering substances, as well as behaviors associated with complex compulsive disorders.[2]

Through meditation, you can essentially discard unwanted thoughts—first within your subconscious, and then in practice, when real-life conscious urges arise. Therefore, meditation can actually help people stay sober and stable by giving them an outlet to release thoughts and feelings that would otherwise compromise their overall mental health. In fact, studies have shown that regular meditation can be as effective as medication in treating people with symptoms of severe depression.[3]

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5. Meditation Creates a Judgment-Free Zone

Meditation helps you improve your daily focus and concentration by creating a judgment-free zone for you to collect your thoughts in peace and harmony before making critical and time-sensitive decisions with clarity. As both a licensed psychotherapist and small business owner, I have to always be on point, performing at my very best, all the while making every effort to spend quality time with my family.

In my world, there is no room for mediocrity and wasting time. I have clients that depend on me for counsel and a family that needs as much of my love and attention as I can possibly give—perhaps you feel the very same way. As a result, we are constantly making important decisions that impact a lot of people, and that’s the great thing about meditation.

No matter where you are in the world, no matter the time, unless you are in the middle of surgery or perhaps flying a plane—even if only for a brief moment—meditation can provide a transcendental portal into your very own subconscious tropical oasis of serenity and oneness where you can clear your mind before making major decisions.

Why Meditate for Concentration?

We all want to be self-sufficient and successful in whatever we choose to do with our lives. As humans, we are innately proud to be autonomous thinkers with the ability to resolve complex issues and accomplish even our loftiest goals using drive and ingenuity. As a result, we need to be able to focus and concentrate on the situation at hand with a clear mind, whether it be at work or at home.

From a personal perspective, the decisions that we make directly impact the lives of our loved ones. Someone once said that “no man is an island.” I firmly agree that we all need interpersonal connections in our lives to fully participate in the human experience. Furthermore, as entrepreneurs and independent professionals, we usually don’t have a back-office staff to help us take care of our clients.

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Although we may have confidence in others, at the end of the day, it is ultimately our responsibility as individuals to make sure that both our loved ones—as well as our clients—feel as though we are available and on top of things, especially the things that they have entrusted us to take care of for them.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, many of us feel as though we just don’t have the luxury of taking a day off. There just isn’t anyone else to open up the store, perform the service, or spend enough quality time with loved ones eagerly waiting at home for some of our undivided attention. Therefore, our overall interpersonal happiness and financial success may largely depend on our ability to effectively focus and concentrate. Without enough time to refresh and recharge our minds, we can easily burn out.

Just like an acrobat appearing to fearlessly walk across a tightrope, we may be able to significantly improve our overall focus and level of concentration by using meditation to help us channel all of our conscious weight to our emotional base, giving us a greater sense of balance and clarity as we move forward in our lives.

Tips on How to Meditate for Concentration

Featured photo credit: processingly via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Evan Jarschauer

Professional Mental Health Interventionist & Licensed Psychotherapist

5 Ways Meditation Improves Your Daily Focus and Concentration 6 Proven Ways To Improve Your Intellectual Wellness How to Practice Mindful Meditation for Anxiety (Step-by-Step Guide) 7 Simple Ways To Improve Your Mental Wellness Feeling Anxious For No Reason? 6 Ways To Cope With

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Published on May 3, 2021

What Is Decision Fatigue And How To Combat It

What Is Decision Fatigue And How To Combat It

How often have you had the experience of needing to make tough decisions that pull you in different directions? You go round and round in circles and, in the end, you either flip a coin or make a snap decision because you’re just too tired to think anymore. Or maybe, you simply put off reaching a decision indefinitely, which is sometimes easier than making a tough call.

Can you relate to this currently? If so, then you’re likely suffering from decision fatigue. Poor decisions are made not because of incapability but because arriving at one or more choices takes its toll—to the extent that it severely weakens our mental energy.

Now that we know what decision fatigue is, let’s explore the primary ways to combat it to enable a stronger mental state coupled with better decision-making.

1. Identify and Make the Most Important Decisions First

If you have a busy personal or work life where many tricky decisions are on the table every day, this can easily and quickly become overwhelming. In this instance, create mental space by initially laying out all situations and challenges requiring a decision. Use a basic software tool or write them down on paper—a notepad file or word document is sufficient.

Once you have your complete list, carefully pick out the most important items needing a conclusion sooner rather than later. Be mindful of the fact that you can’t treat everything as urgent or requiring immediate attention. There have to be some things that are more important than others!

Prioritize and Declare the Appropriate Options

Equipped with your most pressing items awaiting decisions, add another layer of scrutiny by prioritizing them even further. The result should allow you to identify, in order, your most urgent and important tasks without any conflicting priorities.

The last part of this exercise is to highlight all of the options to consider for your most important decision and work through them one by one. With the visual representation of options and most critical decisions out the way first, you’ll be able to think more clearly and prevent decision fatigue from subtly kicking in.

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2. Implement Daily Routines to Automate Less Important Decisions

“Shall I have a healthy lunch today?” “Should I wake up earlier tomorrow?” “What time should I prepare dinner tonight?”

As trivial as these questions appear to be, each one still requires a decision. Stack them on top of other straightforward everyday questions in addition to more significant ones, and things can start to add up unpleasantly.

Small or less important decisions can eat away at your time and productivity. When many other decisions need to be made in parallel, it can lead to decision fatigue. However, there’s a method to avoid this. It involves streamlining aspects of your life by automating repetitive decisions, and this drives the ability to make better decisions overall.[1]

It’s Your Routine—Control It to Create Time for Other Activities

Instead of having to decide multiple times per week if you should have a healthy lunch, create a daily routine sufficiently ahead of time by dictating what healthy food you’ll eat for lunch every day. In doing so, you’re putting that particular decision on autopilot. Your predefined routine commits you to a decision immediately and without hesitation.

Invest time into highlighting all of the trivial and recurring situations requiring decisions daily, then implement a collective routine that relieves the need for you to give them much thought (if any thought at all).

3. Put a Time Limit on Every Decision

Making complex or big decisions increases the risk of draining your energy. This is especially true if you struggle with the fear of making the wrong decision. The doubt and worry bouncing around inside continuously are enough for the majority of people to become fed up and exhausted.

To make good decisions, you need to be in the right position to act. A tactic to deploy is to essentially force yourself to act by setting a time limit on your decision-making process. What might seem a little daunting—given that it can create a sense of added pressure—actually provides clarity on when you need to conclude since you can see the end in sight.

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Grow in Confidence by Reducing Hesitation

After making the decision, it’s time to move on. You’ll feel good and build self-confidence knowing that you didn’t linger on the choices available.

Only consider revisiting a previous decision if something unexpected occurs that impacts it. If that’s the case, then follow the same process by ensuring you make the revised decision before a new deadline.

4. Seek Input From Other People—Don’t Decide Alone

There’s a time and place to make decisions alone, but sometimes, it’s appropriate to involve others. If there’s any degree of struggle in reaching a verdict, then seeking opinions from people in your network can lessen the mental burden of indecisiveness.

Do you feel comfortable seeking input from other people to help make decisions? Trust and feeling secure in your relationships are crucial to answer “yes” to this question.

Explore the Thoughts of Others and Gain a Different Perspective

An insecure business leader likely won’t trust their team(s) to help them make decisions. On the other hand, an assured and secure business leader realizes they don’t “know it all.” Instead of going solo on all work-related decisions, they install trust among their team and get the support required to arrive at the best possible decisions.

The ability to make a great decision can depend on the information related to it that’s at your disposal. When faced with a difficult choice, don’t be afraid to lean on the relevant people for help. They can offer valid alternatives that are otherwise easy to overlook or hold the key to you making a well-informed decision.

5. Simplify and Lower the Number of Available Options

You’re standing in the store, facing an aisle of more than 20 varieties of peanut butter. You have no idea which one to choose, and although there are subtle differences, they all look fairly similar. No doubt you’ve been in this situation at least once in the past (maybe with a substitute for peanut butter!).

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This is a classic example of having too many choices—an event that makes you prone to decide to do nothing or waste time by continually pondering on which product to buy.

According to the psychological concept known as choice overload, simply having too many options can be disruptive and overburdening, causing decision fatigue.[2] Using the example above, you might make the easiest choice of avoiding any further thought, which often results in the purchase of the wrong item.

Extract Meaningful Information and Evaluate Options With a Binary Outcome

To simplify and lower your range of options, leverage the information available and extract what’s most important for you to make a decision. Is it the price? The protein content? Whether it has sustainable packaging or a combination of multiple details?

Keep a tight lid on having too many important components. Prioritize if necessary, and implement a binary outcome (of “yes” or “no” / “true” or “false”) to help arrive at decisions earlier, such as defining a limited price range that the product must fall within.

6. Eliminate Unnecessary Distractions

Arguably, attention is the currency of the modern world. The ability to concentrate better than the next person can mean the difference between a successful student, a thriving business, a happy parent, and a great decision-maker.

So, how can you improve your attention span to make better choices and avoid decision fatigue? There are many strategies, and one of the most optimal ways is to eliminate distractions. Today, the easiest distractions are a result of technology and the devices running it—all of which are at your fingertips 24/7.

Create Extended Periods of Time to Increase Focus

These distractions might be small or large, but the broader issue is the frequency of them, and they repeatedly cause a break in your focus. Dealing with this while trying to make the right decision can be mentally debilitating.

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Technology distractions commonly relate to email, instant messages, push notifications from mobile apps, and scrolling through social media feeds. Access to all of these technologies and tools must be limited to scheduled time blocks (ideally, using a calendar if it’s during a working day).

Switch off notifications entirely to all of the above to prevent distractions (where possible) when it’s not time to look at them. This enables you to think more deeply and focus for prolonged periods of time, ultimately boosting the chances of making good decisions.

Final Thoughts

Decision fatigue is a real phenomenon that can deplete energy levels and increase stress. It can affect anyone who has to make decisions, whether they are minor or major ones.

Overcoming decision fatigue needs patience and dedication. By applying the best practices discussed in this article, you’ll be on the path to implement valuable changes. These changes will increase your productivity, as well as drastically improve your consistency and ability to make the right choices.

More About Decision Fatigue

Featured photo credit: Jake Melara via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] FlexRule: Decision Automation
[2] Behavioral Economics: Choice Overload

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