by Sinead Corrigan
 Start to notice any negative $h!% you’re telling yourself. Poor self-esteem get’s in the way of concentration. Try first just recognizing it’s there. After doing that for a day or week or month or so, try replacing such thoughts with – “yes, I feel this negative way about myself, or another person, but it’s more important to me to focus on what I want to improve/learn/become – if I let go of this thought, my brain has more space to grow and achieve my awesome goal”.
 Do something benign and simply repetitively for a few minutes. For example: draw 20 circles. Then pause and look out into the distance. Then draw another 20 circles. Repeat until you’ve gotten into a groove with it. Notice how maybe it’s become easier to focus on the task at hand after repeating it many times, because you’ve stopped thinking about other stuff! You can do this with movement, words, or any other medium of your choice. It’s kind of like a “mantra” (#google “mantra”).
 Calm down. How can you possibly keep working, focusing, bad-assing if your panties are all in a twist? Take some deep breaths, go for a walk in nature, get a foot massage, rub your face, tickle someone, whatever it takes to remind you that actually, there are many points of stillness (and ease) all around you…all you have to do is shift your attention to them. Then you can come back to whatever it was you were working on with a clear, level head and an expanded, relaxed set of heart valves.
 Look into the “glycemic index” of the foods your eating. Did you know that spiking your blood sugar (aka, eating a lot of sugar, or just a lot of food in general – all the extra is converted to glucose too, you know!) can actually have a negative impact on your concentration, mood, and metabolism? Don’t take my word for it, do some research and see. After you read up a bit you may feel the urge to investigate this gut-brain link by experimenting with your own food choices. Keywords to try for search: glycemic index + blood sugar + concentration + mood.
 Don’t try too hard. Yep. Your concentration may improve!
 Don’t be too easy on yourself. Challenge keeps things interesting…
 Think of people who inspire you with their focus, determination, and over-all follow-through. Or, think of people who are very “present” – people who make you feel like you’re the only thing they see when you’re talking with them. Observe their habits. Ask them how they do it. Find out what makes them tick, and see if you can incorporate some of their strategies. But don’t forget: YDY (#youdoyou)
 REMEMBER YOUR MOTIVATION – re-evoke why you want this goal/why you want to progress in this way. If your motivation is powerful enough, the pain and struggle of it all will only push you deeper into concentrate-mode. (And NOTE: it will be difficult at times! Expect this, embrace it, and keep going).
 Reflect daily on what your most prominent thought or focus or action was that day. This not only gives you information about your own mind, but also enables you to be more conscious about whether or not you actually WANT to be focusing on the thing that has been taking up all your time, mentally and/or physically….You can do this reflection just before bed, noting what you made time for in your life and what you did not make time for (without beating yourself up – no use, tomorrow’s another day!). Then, when you wake up, you can state to yourself: I want to focus on “xyz” today, and I want to focus less on “abc”. This will plant a seed in your subconscious and conscious mind to start orienting yourself towards what you really want to focus on. Remember: Focus = Concentration = Precision = Results.
 THEE numero uno strategy I recommend for building concentration is having a time set aside, every day, to do NOTHING. Whether it’s one minute, five minutes, or an hour or two, the method of “not doing” is kind of like the re-set button. When we’ve been running around like a chicken with its head cut off for the majority of our academic and/or adult professional life, the mental waters are about as Waavy as the seas of Moby Dick. When we stop trying to harpoon the whale of our ambitions and chill out momentarily, not only will we preserve our own life energy, we will also give the storming seas of our own mind the chance to become still – from this still water, we can see through to the bottom of the water much more easily…and HIT OUR TARGET with more ease and clarity.