A wandering mind is a common and frustrating occurrence that leaves us unable to focus on the task or project at hand. Some different factors influence one’s cognitive functioning including the ability to concentrate. As a result, the overall productivity suffers, and stress levels increase. Although frustrating, the problem is entirely manageable. Simple lifestyle tweaks and other easy strategies help us refocus wandering mind.
It happens with most of us when we are engaged in an attention seeking activity, our mind start to thinking about task-irrelevant contemplating incidents of past or might occur in future or will never happen may be. This condition is known as Mind-wandering or task-negative network or stimulus-independent thought or brain’s default mode of operation.
Human brain is made up of billions of neurons which continuously communicate with each other. That’s why it is the habit of mind to think, worry, question & answer, reason and plan Even, if you sit in a chair to appease and relax your mind to get rid of mental fatigue, in the very next moment- a train of thoughts appear and your mind start to wander like a butterfly and move from one idea to another.
According to the decoupling-hypothesis, it happens when you are involved in activities demanding less vigilance and other activities e.g. reading, driving and working. In such conditions, preoccupied mind remain unaware of events happening in surrounding environment.
Mind-wandering has become endemic: a study from Harvard, conducted by Mathew et al, has revealed that about 47% adults of study population were not concentrating on the task they were doing. In other words half of the population suffers from mind-wandering phenomenon. Other studies have reported that people suffering from this phenomenon, often:
• Face problems in daily life and lead to failure in execution of the task effectively
• Possible car accidents
• Weaken the ability to focus on one task
• Waste time and energy
• Can’t sleep well
People with bored, stressed, unhappy and depressed mood and intoxicated with alcohol consumption mostly suffer with this phenomenon.
How can I Refocus My Wandering Mind?
Although wandering mind has some benefits, it has become an epidemic on the job. Human mind remain malleable throughout his adulthood and it can be leveraged and shaped to refocus just like we do exercise to develop our body muscles, here are the simple six ways which will be helpful to refocus your distracted and wandered minds by reshaping the “muscles” of your mind.
1. Focus on one task at a time
Some people claim that performing more tasks at a time, saves time with more output. This claim can be valid for only tasks being carried out automatically and individual’s attention is not required. However, one can accomplish the task more efficiently, efficiently and quickly by focusing on one event at a time.
Your attention is divided while performing several tasks at the same time which may lead to inaccuracy and low quality output. And it will take more time to correct the mistakes and errors in such cases. On the other hand, focus on a single task let the mind to work in an organized and obedient way which will prevent incidence of mental-wandering.
2. Diamond cuts diamond: Meditation
Wandering mind can be tamed to focus on meditation. Myriad studies provide the evidence for effectiveness of meditation practice to improve focus attention ability. In focus attention meditation, you concentrate on a thing which can be internal or external to your body. And you practice to focus on your center then let your mind wander and again bring it back to your focal point.
Repetition of this improves the ability to focus and refocus on your task even when you are not doing meditation. Moreover, daily practice of mindfulness enhances the “attentional monitoring systems” of brain. Another study published in the journal of positive psychology explored positive effect of compassion meditation on mindfulness or preventing mind-wandering.
3. Kick off the stress
It is known fact that short episode of stress has some positive effects as it increases adrenaline level in blood. And adrenaline improves mental concentration. But this is not true for mind-wandering. Stress induces symptoms of depression in individuals and scientific research has proved that symptoms of depression are associated with induction of task-unrelated thoughts in people with low mood. So try to keep yourself happy and away from stressful conditions.
4. Take short breaks and daydream
Paul seli an eminent psychologist at Harvard University says that when you decide to think about something which is not relevant to your task, during your leisure time and you solve that problem. If you come back to tour work again after this activity, it will be beneficial to your mind focus. So, when you are on break from job or after any lecture, don’t let your mind to wander haphazardly, instead wander on a particular thing. This activity can invigorate focus.
5. Keep an eye on your thoughts
It is impossible to stop your mind to think about something. If you have planned to do so, you will end up with thinking that “How to stop thinking?” So, review your thoughts which distract your attention from the job in hand. Analyze which activity or time you are least focused.
Once you found it, move to next step. Start to use your “least focused” time once or twice a day for attention boosting activity e.g. meditation, planning, a new hobby etc. Keep in mind, selected action should be compatible with the interest of your mind.
6. Improve your working memory
Working memory is strongly associated with mind-wandering. In a study, it was found that people with higher working memory capacity achieve their goals early as compared to those having lower memory.
The reason behind this finding was that individuals with higher working capacity remained more focused and wasted less time in mind wandering comparatively. Therefore you should try to improve memory. Working memory can be improved by meditation, exercising outside and cognitive supplements (Nootropics).
All these given tips to refocus a wandering mind are referenced from peer reviewed journals and have promising results. So make hurry to make these suggestions your habit and save your time and energy by completing your task with full concentration.
Meighan Sembrano is an enthusiast and a passionate writer. She is expertise in Beauty and Skin Care articles. Also, have contributed in the Health and Fitness field. Her work gives an enthusiast twist to the readers. She resonates the readers with her sincere and thoughtful words. You can follow Meighan on Twitter and Facebook.