Miguel Panao | Professor and Author

Finding ways to improve scientific writing and academic productivity.

How can you challenge distraction with concentration

A lot of the work we do in science depends on memory and creativity. Improving your memory and boosting your creativity are two important investments if you are a researcher. However, the interesting thing is that both are connected.

Memory is where we store what we learn. It is the foundation of all learning, which is why it is essential for creativity. While some might think it is a gift, in fact, it is not.

Therefore, the lack of memory, if not caused by a disease, it is only a lack of training.

Having realized how important memory is in my work, I thought of improving it. In his “Unlimited Memory”, Kevin Horsley develops the 4 C’s for improving your memory: Concentration, Creative imagery, Connecting concepts, and the habit of Continuous use.

The fist, concentration, is probably the most challenging in a distractive world, and 4 topics caught my attention.

1. Where the attention goes, energy follows

We create the world with creative thoughts. We spend a lot of energy thinking. Therefore, all distraction which break our focus are – literally – a waste of energy.

I train the ability to focus using the Time-Chunking Method, or Pomodoro Technique, working for 25-30 minutes, then taking short breaks of 5 minutes. This helps me focus during the working time. Also, music is known to help us focus and I use Focus@Will to do that.

2. Beliefs are not the truth, but guide what you do

Negative beliefs about what we can do, block concentration and memory. We need to overcome our inner critic and embrace positive beliefs. They are part of your identity. Beliefs are a choice you make to challenge yourself into becoming what you want to be. If you what to improve your concentration, believe and it will guide you.

3. Making small choices consistently practiced

It is important to thing big, but often the small things and steps are the best way to change for real. For example, unless I have a healthy brain, improving memory can be hard, which is why I began walking every day for at least 30 minutes. It was a small and consistent choice.

Consistency provides you with experiences and these are always ingrained in our memory improving it.

4. Busyness if often procrastination in disguise

We are all busy and complain about the time we don’t have. We complain so much about time I’m inclined to believe it is more important than money in today’s world. However, even if we sound busy, it doesn’t mean we’re busy. It could be the “procrastinator monkey” distracting us and damaging our concentration and ability to focus.

QUESTION: Do you feel the need to improve your concentration? What experience do you have you could share?

About Miguel Panao

I am a Professor at the University of Coimbra in Mechanical Engineering. I am also author of books in the fields of environmental ethics and Science and Religion. From the several research projects, this site is personal and dedicated to the search for the best approaches, tools, techniques to improve scientific productivity.

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