BRAIN HEALTH | 7.11.2016 | BY DAYA ALEXANDER GRANT, PH.D., M.S.
Focusing on one thing at a time is an anomaly in these days of multitasking. We may be consumed by external distractions, such as social media or the movement of life around us. Or, particularly after a TBI, our brain has difficulty filtering out irrelevant information, forcing it to constantly jump from stimulus to stimulus. Unfortunately, the inability to focus taxes the brain and leads to severe inefficiency.
One way to practice focus is by implementing the 30-second drill. I learned this drill from my Sport Psychology mentor, Dr. Ken Ravizza, and it’s a great way to train the mind to remain focused on a single task and simultaneously feel the power of presence.
Set a timer for 30 seconds and for that duration, commit to being completely engaged in the present moment. 30 seconds does not sound like a long period of time, and it’s not, but with the modern brain accustomed to ever-changing scenes, 30 seconds of solid focus can actually be a challenge. Do this throughout the day, whether you’re working, doing the dishes, or waiting to cross the street. Once this becomes second hand, increase the time to 5 minutes, 10 minutes, and eventually 20 minutes. Research has shown that 20 minutes is about as long as we can focus on a single task, so keeping that in mind, build in mental breaks every 20 minutes or so.
Just as our body requires training to stay in shape, so too does our mind. Be diligent with these drills and you’ll find that you become much more productive and efficient.