7 Ways to improve power of concentration

A elderly woman unable to concentrate with what she is reading

When you sit in an easy chair with the intention of studying some material that is heavy in thought content, do you find that your mind persists in drifting to other things? Or, after you have read a few pages, do you fall asleep?"

If this has been your experience, you will need to improve on your power of concentration, so as to become a good reader.

What is concentration?

Concentration is the act of controlling your attention by focusing your mind upon one thing, which might be talk, a book or a problem."

It entails the elimination of all mental images foreign to your train of thought.

For many people this is very difficult to do; yet one can achieve this ability by knowing what can help him or her better concentrate or focus on things.

Then, what are the ways to improve the power of concentration?

Let us consider some 7 important aspects which can help you:

1. Importance of interest


Concentration comes naturally and without effort when you are intensely interested in what you are listening to or studying. Your mind does not wander."

You do not mechanically read page after page without getting the sense of what is written. Think of the times you have read gripping novels or something about a favorite hobby.

Did you have trouble concentrating? On the contrary, you were oblivious to all else. Noises and other disturbances did not bother you.

Even if you were asked to do something, your response probably was little more than a grunt, with the request quickly forgotten.

In view of the fact that you have no trouble in concentrating on material that deeply interest you, you need to stimulate interest in the things on which you have trouble concentrating.

Indeed there are some things which never fancy your interest. If you had to study about them, lack of interest would cause your mind to wander to other things.

But by exercising a determination to cultivate an interest in them, you would be able to keep your mind focused.

There is nothing within your ability to concentrate in which you cannot develop a powerful interest, if you really want to.

What can help you to is looking for an interesting viewpoint of the subject.

For example, something as commonplace as simple “stone” can be made an object of intense interest. It’s composition, it's formation, it’s atomic structure or how it got where you found it can make the stone a source of interest."

This is applicable to any subject. Look for an interesting viewpoint, or perhaps the answer to a question you have about it.

This will help you cultivate interest, and then concentration comes naturally.

Writers use this method of creating interest when they receive assignments to write on subjects that had not previously appealed to them.

Self-generated interest can get you more deeply involved in the subject so that a real interest develops. Concentration is then not a problem.

So, look at the subject from different viewpoints, argue with yourself while thinking about it and this will definitely raise your level of concentration.

2. Good posture and environment


A position that suggests work is better for concentration than one that suggests a feeling of laziness. Sit erect at a desk or table where you are accustomed to working.

Trying to study while lying on a bed or sitting in an easy chair is not conducive to concentration, because the mind associates such positions with relaxation, not work.

The tendency to become drowsy is greater in those positions.

When you begin studying also be determine to resist the temptation to look up when there is noise or someone enters the room.

Letting such things distract you interferes with your concentration. Since noise can make concentration on meaty reading material difficult, it is best to study in quiet surroundings.

Although some persons like to have some music on when they study, you will find concentration easier with it off.

By establishing the habit of promptly focusing your mind on your study material, you will find that concentration will come easier for you than if you dawdled over trifling preliminaries that give you excuses for putting off your study.

Once you get started do not permit thoughts of other things you could do to enter your mind and interrupt your thinking.

Hence, put off making phone calls, reading emails, and so forth, until your study period is over.

3. Set a goal to achieve


Setting goals is a practice that greatly aids concentration. A long-term goal stimulates you to apply your mental energies to achieve it." 

Without the goal you would lack an incentive that stimulates intense interest and the ability to concentrate.

If you casually read a book or even a magazine article that has material that challenges your thinking, you will have a much more difficult time keeping your mind on it without a goal in mind.

For example, you will find it far easier to concentrate on an article when you are seeking the answer to a question someone has asked you than if you read it casually with no objective in mind.

Your goal will be finding the answer to the question, and that is an incentive to concentrate on the material.

Short-term goal also are aids to concentration. They result from breaking up a long-term goal into shorter and more manageable ones.

This holds true with studying of a single book or even a magazine article.

Take an overall look at the book or article, noting its principal features, which in case of a book, would be its chapter headings. 

After noting how the chapters support the subject, set to work on short goals by studying the details in the chapters.

Fit the details into the overall objective of the book or article. This active thinking on the material will help you to keep your concentration.

4. Note-taking


Note-taking is a valuable aid to concentration. It is a definite response to what you are reading, and therefore helps you to keep your attention focused on the material.

When wrestling with a problem or preparing a talk or doing some other form of creative thinking, you can improve your concentration by taking a piece of paper and pencil and writing down key thoughts or information stored away in the mind.

As note taking aids you to concentrate when studying written material, so can it help you to concentrate when listening to someone giving a talk.

5. Concentration on the spoken word


There is often greater difficulty in concentrating on the spoken word than on the written word, for the simple reason that you think much faster than a person speaks.

Because the brain goes at high speed, it is tempted to take excursions while a speaker is speaking at a relatively slow speed. 

The excursions soon destroy your concentration on the talk by causing you to lose its coherence.

Of course, a speaker that fails to give a coherent talk is partially responsible for the difficulty.

He is obligated to help his audience concentrate by developing his talk logically.

An illustration of how you can keep your mind focused on a talk is the fable about the turtle and the rabbit that ran a race.

The turtle won because the speedy rabbit fell asleep. Your mind is like the fast moving rabbit, and the speaker is like the plodding turtle. 

Unless you keep your mind centered on what the speaker says, your mind will take too many excursions and fall asleep.

When the speaker concludes, you will not know what he said.

So, you need to use up your mental speed in a more constructive manner. How?

As the speaker moves along the course of his talk like the fabled turtle, your mind like the fast rabbit, should use up its excess speed by circling what the speaker says, viewing it from different angles. It should run ahead and try to determine the path the talk appears to be taking and then it should run back and examine the path over which it has traveled."

Concentration on the talk can be greatly improved by using the mind’s superior speed in this manner.

It will be so busy thinking about what is being said that there will be no inclination to take excursions into unrelated fields of thought, provided that the speaker is giving a coherent talk.

6. Concentration even with familiar things


When your interest is sparked by something new, you have very little difficulty on focusing on it.

In many instances your initial enthusiasm sparks such intense interest that you can concentration on this material for even hours.

But as familiarity with the material grows, concentration becomes difficult because the element of newness is no longer there to hold the attention and the mind begins to wander.

However, realization of the value and importance of the material you are studying can help you to maintain the level of interest necessary to overcome the dulling influence of familiarity.

Thinking of ways to use the information can also help. 

Often familiar material presented from a new viewpoint can make it fresh.

Hence, if the reader thinks from this viewpoint while he or she studies, then his familiarity with the information will not dull his interest nor weaken his power of concentration.

7. Cultivate a concentration habit


Make it a daily practice to look for interesting viewpoints in subjects in which you have not been particularly interested.

This will help you to cultivate a valuable habit that will serve you well when you are face with studying something requires a great amount of thought.

A habit is like a path that becomes deeper, wider and clearly marked every time it is used, making travel over it easier.

So it is with the habit of concentration. It can replace the habit of letting your mind wander.

The cultivation of good mental habits is not easy, but it is within your ability if you make the effort.

Thereby your mind will be made receptive and retentive of new knowledge.

In conclusion


Concentration is an important factor in the learning process. You should therefore exert your utmost effort to develop your ability to use it.

If you want to grow in knowledge and insight, you must improve your ability to focus your attention upon things you read and hear.

No doubt you know from experience that things to which you have given only passing notice do not stay long in your memory.

A person, who only half listens to instructions, is certain to forget them in a matter of minutes. But concentration improves your power to remember and to learn new things.

And since we live in an information age in which the value of knowledge is appreciated and essential in order to make progress in whatever you seek in life, resolve to improve the power of your concentration.

The rewards will be worth the effort.

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