What is the one thing most of us are struggling to achieve?. It is the one topic that for ages has been boggling the human mind ‘How to Focus?’. Every now and then new theories related to focus and concentration make rounds both digitally and physically.
We live in a noisy world and there are constant distractions around us that stop us from focussing on a single task. In such a situation we often find ourselves compromising on our productivity and privacy.
Before we talk about how to focus et us try to explain the mind and how it works.
What is Focus?
We bombard our brain with so much information, some intentional, some unintentional. This information also includes the sensory data from our surroundings. However, there is a limit to how much the brain can effectively comprehend from time to time.
The brain focuses on much more than we actually are aware of- something that is happening at a subconscious level.
The brain has created an effective technique for selecting incoming information to circumvent this bottleneck. A process that focuses solely on the most relevant and vital information, while the rest – the noise – is “ignored.” Attention is the mechanism in question.
Explaining the Brain
Since the evolution of humans, we are trying to understand our brains. The journey to self-exploration continues. In the same exploration, various scientists have worked on explaining how the brain focuses.
There is no single part of the brain which works towards focus, instead, it is the combined widespread network of brain regions that make the ‘attention system’. They work on your thoughts, feelings and actions and help them operate efficiently.
This attention system is made of a small part of every lobe of your brain. The working of each may depend on the type of information that you are trying to focus on. The core attention network includes:
a. Sensory Regions: To effectively process the information
b. Parietal region: To control where to focus.
c. Prefrontal regions: Attention control centre.
The neuromodulators such as acetylcholine, dopamine and norepinephrine also play an important role in attention and focus.
How to focus?
Our minds are capable of great things, but they can also undermine our best intentions. Even while our brain is focussing, it has at least three different types of attention:
a. Selective Attention: For focusing on one thing.
b. Divided attention: For managing multiple information at the same time.
c. Sustained attention: For staying focussed on one thing for a long time.
How your focus is broken?
Even with its sophisticated processing filters, your brain can become distracted. Loud noises and flashing lights cause a lot of neural lights activity, which causes them to jump to the front of your mind, leaving whatever you were concentrating on behind. This is handy on the battlefield or when you’re about to crash your automobile, but not when you’re studying for a test and a neighbouring car alarm interrupts your concentration.
Your brain needs a “braking system” to prevent erroneous thoughts from entering your consciousness. The ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC), located directly behind each of your temples, is thought to conduct this function.
The VLPFC does block distractions, but because the VLPFC is sensitive and takes a lot of energy, some brains are better at deploying these brakes than others. Sometimes it works well, but other times, instinct takes over. Simply try not to worry about something and watch how far you get.
How to Improve focus?
Improving your focus is not an hour or single day work. It requires regular practice and a proper schedule to prevent your brain from losing attention. Some facts that will help you focus are:
a. Humans are not meant to multitask
b. The biggest distraction is neither TVs nor phones, it is our brain itself.
c. We have not lost our ability to focus, but are out of practice.
d. there is no person or app that can help improve your focus
So how can we focus in this modern digital age?