Imagine that you are reading a book in a public place, such as an airport. Your brain captures the information as you follow the main character on their latest adventure. At the same time, it tunes out the television set playing above your head so you can pay attention to what really matters – like that crazy plot twist! In this scenario, you are exercising the complementary brainpowers of attention (maintaining awareness of environmental stimuli, such as a book) and focus (blocking out environmental stimuli, such as the person on the cell phone next to you). Keeping your attention and focus skills in tip-top shape will benefit you in every area of your life – school, work, and play. Here are a couple simple activities to help you boost yours.
1. Mix Up Your Routine
When you do the same thing day in and day out, it’s very easy for activities to become mindless. Breaking the pattern forces your brain to activate your attention skills. So whether it’s taking a new route to work, trying a new machine at the gym, or cooking a dish you’ve never cooked before, try doing something a little bit differently each day.
2. Embrace Distraction…and Overcome It
Ever notice that baseball players take practice swings with weighted bats? It forces them to exert more effort, so that when they step up to the plate, minus the weights, they swing even stronger and faster. The same goes for your attention skills. If you practice reading or studying amidst some distraction – ambient noise – you can eventually train your brain to block out distractions more effectively.