Whether you’re dealing with the stress of final exams, an exceptionally busy work week or craziness at home, remaining consistently focused and on top of your game can be a struggle. Fortunately, there are a number of proven strategies to combat brain fog, distraction and that feeling of being overwhelmed. Even better news: all five of these methods not only aid productivity, but they’re also enjoyable (see number 3 for our favorite reason!).
1. Turn off electronics
Notifications from apps, email, social media, and just about everything else you’re connected to in the digital world can be hugely distracting. Even if you put your phone out of sight, hearing it buzz may cause you to lose focus, and we all know how easy it is to lose track of time scrolling through Instagram or Facebook! Silence your phone completely and consider putting it in airplane mode to avoid the allure while you’re working on a particularly demanding task.
2. Take a walk (or run, or yoga session)
Exercise benefits both physical and mental health, so try not to skip your gym session during busy periods if it’s an activity you particularly enjoy. Go on a walk in a beautiful park, jog on a local trail, or try a yoga or meditation class to clear your mind. When you resume working, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to tackle a new problem.
3. Eat some dark chocolate
Good news! Science says the consumption of cocoa flavanol antioxidants, found in chocolate, results in acute improvements in mood and cognitive performance in sustained periods of mental effort. In other words, eating dark chocolate may prevent or combat mental fatigue! Beware, however, that not all chocolate is created equal. In order to experience the full benefits of cocoa flavanols, many studies point to an optimal daily consumption of between 500-1,000mg serving per day and many bars only contain a fifth of that.
4. Never forget to eat breakfast
It may seem like a no brainer, but surveys have found that up to 10 percent of Americans are skipping breakfast. Your brain needs fuel to function – it’s as simple as that! Need some healthy breakfast ideas you can prep ahead of time? Check out some of our favorites here.
5. Don’t forget to take breaks
It may seem more efficient to power through a busy afternoon or long study session, but planned breaks may actually help improve concentration in the long run. Research has shown that taking multiple short breaks in the midst of a long task retains an even level of productivity, while not taking breaks leads to a steady decline in productivity.