Staying focused: tips from high achievers

Whether you're climbing to the top of the corporate ladder, or just monitoring the price of Bitcoin, you’ll relate to the challenges of long days and wavering minds. Given the average person has an attention span of 8 seconds, it can be difficult to concentrate through whatever you've sent your mind to.

Thanks to our friends at Fitness First, here are six tips on how to keep your brain at the top of its game, backed up by some of the world’s most successful people.

There’s a reason it’s ‘the most important meal of the day’. Countless studies prove that breaking the fast with a balance of low GI carbs (like oats or sourdough) combined with proteins (dairy, nuts or eggs) not only boosts metabolism, but also feeds your glucose-greedy brain – helping to boost concentration and keep you functioning at your peak. Even world-renowned entrepreneur Richard Branson swears by a morning ritual of fruit salad and grains.

As stress takes hold, your ability to focus is significantly compromised. That’s why the best and brightest incorporate meditation (or deep breathing) into their daily routine. A Harvard study found that meditation (even just once) could improve attention and may even help us make smarter choices.

When your to-do list hits capacity, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Bill Gates  is an advocate for keeping things simple: “The ability to boil things down, to just work on things that really count, is a special form of genius.” Try breaking big projects into smaller chunks and narrowing your focus. This will aid your ability to divide and conquer.

Nearly 60% of workplace distractions come from email, mobile and social media. If you’re prone to procrastination, regain focus by switching off. Take a 10 minute digital detox and allow your mind to refresh and refocus. Better still, head out for some fresh air and take a brisk walk. YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki notes that her best insights and ideas come when she takes a little time out.  

If you’re sacrificing sleep for extra hours in the office, then you’re on a slippery slope to poor concentration. Arianna Huffington, author of The Sleep Revolution, explains that lost sleep adds up to around 11 days of lost productivity per year. While making sure that you get roughly 7-8 hours shut-eye each night, experts warn that the sleep quality matters when it comes to boosting brain function, mood, productivity and weight management.

You may boggle at John Howard jogging, Tony Abbott in budgie smugglers or Barack Obama pounding the pavement, but these successful men know the physical and mental benefits of exercise. In the words of Obama, “You have to exercise or at some point you’ll just break down.” Exercise is a powerful de-stressor, as it triggers the release of ‘feel good’ endorphins. A good sweat is also shown to fuel your focus as you experience the alertness and energy known as ‘the runner’s high’. Find an activity you enjoy and stick with it.

If focusing on your fitness is a priority for you this year, step into Fitness First Titanium at 100 Barangaroo Avenue (enter from Scotch Row and head up the lifts to level P2) and have a chat to one of their staff or trainers. To make it easy to take that first step, they offer a free trial so you can hit one of their group exercise classes, or just get pumped on the weights floor.