Are you wondering how to end pondering? Here's the secret to success with our four scientifically proven ways to improve mental focus

by Michael Vanheste October 27, 2020

Are you wondering how to end pondering? Here's the secret to success with our four scientifically proven ways to improve mental focus

At the moment, many of us are finding ourselves working from home far more than we were used to. For those of us who are prone to distraction, procrastination and lack of focus, being at home can make staying on task even more challenging.

Below are four suggestions for outwitting distraction, they don't just apply to work, these methods can also help if you fall victim to distraction in any area of life, such as housework or creative projects.

Zone out

It might seem counter-intuitive, but allowing your mind to wander may be one of the best approaches if you are struggling to focus. Concentration requires a network of brain regions including the frontal cortex, which is responsible for resisting distractions and controlling our natural impulse to do something more fun. Keeping this neural network functioning requires more energy than the group of brain regions that are active when we are thinking about nothing in particular. Inevitably, at some point during the day, we run out of steam and that’s when mind wandering kicks in.

Goof around

According to a recent study, a good way to boost your reserves of willpower is to have a good laugh. In experiments, people who had watched a funny video tried longer and harder to complete an impossible puzzle than a control group of people who watched a video that was relaxing but not funny. The study concluded that humour replenishes our reserves so effectively that workplaces should encourage a more “playful” culture.

Stop working

When you’re up against it, taking a break might be the last thing on your mind. But there is a huge amount of evidence to suggest it can actually help you get more done. The challenge is working out when to take a break, for how long - and what to do with that downtime.

Some studies suggest that due to natural variations in our cycle of alertness, we can concentrate for no longer than 90 minutes before needing a 15-minute break.

Getting up from your work station to make a cup of tea is a good way to break the cycle of alertness.

The best type of tea to drink is green tea. Like other types of tea such as black, white and oolongs, it is made from the Camellia Sinensis plant. Green tea contains a potent combo of both caffeine and l-theanine, making it a great concentration aid that can help boost your brainpower and induce a state of calm and focus. In addition, green tea contains especially high amounts of a catechin known as EGCG, which may be beneficial for learning and memory.

Don’t try so hard

When you need to focus for long periods, less is more. In brain imaging experiments, studies conducted at the Boston Attention and Learning Lab in Massachusetts found that the most successful strategy for staying on course was to focus for a while and then to take a short break before going back to concentrating. People who tried to be alert all the time made more mistakes overall.

The more we know about the brain, the clearer it is that stress is the enemy of concentration. So take the time to do whatever it takes to feel calmer and more in control - and - with a little help from tea, the work will take care of itself.

We've blended a number of teas to help foster focus and effectiveness in our working lives – click below to browse our teas for focus.

Focus on tea: