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How to focus better and improve concentration

“Put your mind on your breathing. Try to consciously breathe more slowly with increasing depth and control. Successful people use these methods to eliminate distractions, do more work in less time, overcome a lack of sleep, and increase productivity.”

Ed Latimore
Ed Latimore
Writer, retired boxer, self-improvement enthusiast

Do you have trouble focusing on one thing? Do you easily get distracted by social media? I’ll teach you how to focus better.

Do you have trouble keeping your mind on one thing?

Do you easily get distracted by social media?

Do you wish you could stop procrastinating?

Your problem is a lack of focus and willpower, but don’t worry. The ability to focus on a single task can be trained, developed, and sharpened to eliminate distractions and increase productivity.

I’ll teach you how to focus better, for longer periods of time, without your mind wandering, so you can get things done.

What is Focus And Why Do You Need It

Focus enables you to give complete attention to a task while maintaining situational awareness.

If you can focus, you gain an incredible advantage over most people. In a world of endless distractions, the person who can fix their attention on one thing for the longest amount of time will leave everyone else in the dust.

When you see people with their eyes constantly glued to their smartphones and distracted by social media, it may seem like a problem of modern culture, but people have always had things distracting them.

Yes, technology increases the efficacy and efficiency of those distractions, but they have always existed.

Furthermore, people have always sought them out.

Whether watching TV, making pointless phone calls, or drinking excessively, people have always found a way to waste time.

This ruins your ability to concentrate.

This is why there have always been methods, systems, and secrets devoted to teaching people how to focus better, concentrate, and resist the world’s distractions.

Understand Why You Can’t Concentrate

You lack focus because you don’t want to focus.

That statement may shock you. After all, people always complain about not being able to focus. Why would they complain if this was the case?

People forget that focus is all-consuming and singular and does not give them the luxury of entertaining other things. They want to be able to play on their smartphones, listen to music, and browse the internet–all while getting meaningful work done.

You can’t check things off your to-do list if you’re constantly checking Twitter. You can’t be productive if you take a 5-minute break every 10 minutes. It simply doesn’t work that way.

Focus requires you to concentrate on one thing at a time. This may initially be uncomfortable.

We may be able to focus, but our brains also evolved to seek novelty. For many of us, focus is boring, and we hate to be bored.

This is why you lack focus. You want it to be fun. You want it to be easy. You want it to be comfortable.

It wouldn’t be so challenging and valuable if it were any of that stuff.

If you’re willing to push yourself and suffer a little, this article will teach you how to improve your focus to accomplish anything you want.

1. Eliminate distractions and wastes of time

According to Ron Webb, an American Productivity and Quality Center executive director, focus requires understanding what is worthy of distraction. “Success comes down to embedding that focus into the flow of how you work,” he says.

A clutter-free environment makes it easier to focus. I learned this lesson in college.

Homework problems were extremely difficult and time-consuming. My mechanics and electromagnetism work always made me want to distract myself. Whenever I felt uncomfortable–which was quite often–I was tempted to browse social media or take another 10-minute break.

If I let myself, then I could easily be distracted by anything. Even worse, I could devise compelling reasons for doing other things. My solution to this was simple:

  • I turned my phone off. Airplane mode wasn’t good enough because I have a few apps that don’t require the internet to distract me.
  • I disconnected my computer from the internet. If you’re doing work that requires you to be connected to the internet, this may not be feasible, but at least disconnect from social media.
  • I worked in a clutter-free area. Clutter is mentally distracting. It also provides a convenient way out of work if you decide that you want to clean instead of work.
  • I made sure I had a glass of water and a snack. It doesn’t really matter what the snack is. What matters is that you have something you don’t waste time getting up to eat or drink.
  • Before I started working, I used the bathroom. This one is obvious. Nothing destroys your ability to focus like having to pee.

You can adapt this process to your focus challenge, but the idea remains the same: remove distractions.

2. Know the most important task to focus on

You will always have trouble focusing if you don’t know what you need to focus on.

One of the best examples of this can be found in the Poker Hall of Famer Phil Ivey.

Phil Ivey’s concentration on poker is so great that he doesn’t notice when cocktail waitresses come to the table.

Most poker players look away and catch a glimpse of an attractive woman walking by, but not Phil. He is completely absorbed in the game.

He is concentrating on the entire game of poker. To aid in this concentration, he sometimes wears headphones. There doesn’t even need to be music playing in the headphones for this to work.

Merely putting them on triggers you to focus.

3. Meditation improves your concentration

The more time you spend concentrating, the less effort it takes to do so.

Meditation is a powerful tool for helping you stay focused. Meditation changes the brain’s structure, making it easier for us to be present and focus more intensely on pressing tasks.

Researchers at the University of Columbia Medical Center say that meditation can:

  • Reduce stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Increase energy levels
  • Improve memory and attention span
  • Build a stronger immune system and greater physical/psychological resilience
  • Allows better sleep in less time

All of these things make it easier for you to stay focused and concentrate more easily.

There are generally three types of meditation:

  • Mindfulness. You focus on your breathing and let the thoughts pass through your mind.
  • Concentrative. You focus on a particular idea or point and resist all other intruding thoughts.
  • Moving. Think of Tai Chi or Yoga. Activities that force you to stay present on the movement, with no other distractions, so your mind is free.

Of these types of meditation, mindfulness is the most effective at increasing your ability to focus.

Mindfulness meditation directly affects the amygdala. Research has found that with meditation, the amygdala—the area of the brain that responds to stress—becomes more controlled and better regulated.

4. Franz Bardon And Initiation To The Hermetics

When I was a teenager, I stumbled upon an interesting book called Initiation to The Hermetics.

Learn more about hermetics here.

You don’t need to know hermetic science to use the book. You don’t even really need to care. However, you should keep an open mind for the next few sentences, and I promise you that you’ll come away with a powerful tool for improving your concentration.

Initiation to The Hermetics provides a set of exercises to strengthen your mind, body, and emotions so that you are fully prepared to practice ritual magic. Whether you believe in magic or think it’s possible is irrelevant. What is relevant is that the exercises in the book do an exceptional job of improving your ability to focus.

You learn how to properly meditate, focus on one thing, visualize, and turn your mind into a highly functional weapon. These exercises aren’t difficult, per se, but you will quickly realize the weakness of your ability to focus on one thing

5. Learn how to visualize

People often talk about using visualization to increase their chances of success.

There is no shortage of successful celebrities who praise the power of visualization and how it helped them achieve their goals. However, you rarely hear people discuss visualization as enhancing focus and their concentration ability.

That’s unfortunate because it’s one of the most potent ways to improve your concentration and ability to stay focused. This is because visualization trains your mind on what to see and focus on.

This is due to something called the reticular activating system (RAS).

The RAS ensures that our brain doesn’t have to deal with more information than it can handle. It determines what sensory information we’ll receive and process and which we’ll ignore.

For all intents and purposes, the reticular activating system is a filtering system for reality. The system notices what it believes to be important. It decides what’s important by what you visualize.

If you visualize having an easy time on an upcoming math exam, you’ll see the solutions more easily. If you visualize having a best-selling book, it’ll be easier to focus when you sit down to write the 2,000 words per day necessary to achieve that goal.

A bonus to training the reticular activating system is that it might make you some extra money. Read about the famous quarter experiment and the effects of training your mind with visualization to focus on opportunities.

6. Use Nootropics a.k.a. “Smart drugs”

Nootropics–also known as “smart drugs”–have become quite popular.

Although “nootropic” has become a hip term, it was coined by Dr. Corneliu Giurgea in the ’60s.

A nootropic is any chemical or substance used to enhance mental functionality. This covers everything from nutritional supplements to prescription drugs produced by pharmaceutical companies.

For a product to be considered a true nootropic, Dr. Giurgea had strict conditions. It needs to do at least one of the following:

  1. Enhance memory
  2. Improve behavior
  3. Protect the brain from injury
  4. Improve tonic cortical/ sub-cortical control mechanisms

All with a low toxicity and side-effect profile.

These drugs are excellent for helping you to focus better, focus longer, and make you a mental badass. The following are the ones I’ve tried that are safe, effective, and give you laser-like energy and focus.

Black Coffee

Actually, it doesn’t matter if it’s black. That’s just how I like to take it. However, it does matter that it’s regular coffee. NOT decaffeinated.

Heading to your local coffee shop on your lunch break can significantly impact your energy levels and attention span.

Caffeine improves reaction time, alertness, memory, and mood. This all translates into a mind that is more capable of focusing more intensely over a longer period of time.

In fact, from a mental perspective, there isn’t much that caffeine doesn’t do.


Modafinil is a prescription medication used to promote wakefulness and treat excessive sleepiness.

When taken as a nootropic, Modafinil is a non-addictive drug that increases resistance to fatigue, improves mood, builds motivation, decreases reaction time, and increases willpower.

Although Modafinil’s mechanisms are unclear, it does such an amazing job at increasing productivity and focus that it’s called the “Limitless” pill.

Be careful though. Don’t take Modafinil in the morning because its half-life is over 12 hours long. This means that you’ll feel the full effects of it for AT LEAST that long after taking it. This means you will have trouble falling asleep. If you don’t sleep enough, you’ll have trouble concentrating the next day.

Alpha Brain

I tried the Onnit Alpha Brain supplement for 30 days. To test out its efficacy, I watched my progress on 3 of my regular cognitive tasks:

Given that I was in a state of constant sleep deprivation that all new parents go through, I figured I’d be a perfect candidate to see how this supplement stacks up as a brain-boosting nootropic.

This is one of the best nootropics you can buy that is not a neuropeptide or over-the-counter medication.

In this article, I do a deep dive. However, if you want to pick some up, buy here at my affiliate link. Your purchase supports my work, and your brain gets a boost!

7. Deep breaths energize your brain

No matter what the discipline, I have found that taking deep breaths keeps your mind steady.

Deep breaths keep you composed, relaxed, and, most importantly, focused.

Researchers have found a direct link between your ability to focus and the quality of your breathing. According to the study:

The locus coeruleus (LC) has established functions in both attention and respiration. Good attentional performance requires optimal levels of tonic LC activity and must be matched to task consistently. LC neurons are chemosensitive, causing respiratory phrenic nerve firing to increase the frequency with higher CO2 levels, and as CO2 level varies with the phase of respiration, tonic LC activity should exhibit fluctuations at respiratory frequency.

The locus coeruleus is a part of the brain involved in modulating norepinephrine production during times of stress.

When you’re stressed out or overwhelmed, you produce too much norepinephrine, making it difficult to focus. On the other end of the spectrum, when you’re feeling lazy or lethargic, you don’t produce enough, making it difficult to focus.

An optimal amount of production leads to optimal focus. This is accomplished by deep breathing

The research shows for the first time that breathing—an essential element of meditation and mindfulness practices—directly affects the levels of a natural chemical messenger in the brain called noradrenaline. This chemical messenger is released when we are challenged, curious, exercised, focused, or emotionally aroused, and, if produced at the right levels, helps the brain grow new connections, like a brain fertilizer.

How we breathe, in other words, directly affects the chemistry of our brains in a way that can enhance our attention and improve our brain health.

This is important because when you lose your composure or become flustered, you lose your concentration more quickly. This will, in turn, increase the possibility of failure.

Put your mind on your breathing. Try to consciously breathe more slowly with increasing depth and control.

Improving your ability to focus boils down to this…

  1. Remove distractions. By definition, they only hurt.
  2. Get clear about your goals. This keeps you from being distracted while trying to sort things out.
  3. Practice meditation. It’s like weightlifting for your mind.
  4. Read Franz Bardon’s ***Initiation to Hermetics.** Especially levels 1-3.
  5. Learn how to visualize. Your reticular activating system makes focusing easier, and your visualization is how you develop it.
  6. Use nootropics. Especially Alpha Brain combined with black coffee.
  7. Breathe deeply and slowly. Your mind and breath and closely related. Regulating one will regulate the other.

Successful people use these methods to eliminate distractions, do more work in less time, overcome a lack of sleep, and increase productivity.

Ed Latimore
About the author

Ed Latimore

I’m a writer, competitive chess player, Army veteran, physicist, and former professional heavyweight boxer. My work focuses on self-development, realizing your potential, and sobriety—speaking from personal experience, having overcome both poverty and addiction.

Follow me on Twitter.

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