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Improving the Concentration Ability: Removing Distractions in Order to Stay Focused on One Task

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The focus is important because it is the crucial gateway to thinking, including memory, learning, problem-solving, reasoning, and decision making. It can improve the quality of knowledge, which leads to an improvement in success. One of the problems that I have always struggled with is the ability to stay concentrated on a single task until I finish it, without being distracted. Instead, there have always been some stimuli that made me switch between different tasks and try to multitask instead of focusing on a single one. Doing multitasking instead of focusing on one single task can lead to poor performance in all the assignments. In this essay, multitasking is being used as a term to handle multiple complex tasks at the same time. (e.g., reading and listening to two separate sentences).

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As a result, neuroscience can be beneficial to find a solution with understanding what is happening in the brain, when one is concentrated on something and what happens when one gets distracted. Knowing this fact can help with minimizing the distractions and training ourselves to improve both focus and concentration abilities based on neuroscience. Focusing is a skill that can be developed by practice. Another theoretical perspective that can benefit us with improving the focus ability is using cognitive psychology techniques. Cognitive psychology is studying the mental process such as the process of thinking, attention, language, memory, problem-solving and creativity, in which influencing the behavior (Hockenbury, Nolan, and Hockenbury, 2015, p. 12). For example, one of the distractions while doing different tasks can be daydreaming. Daydreaming or mind-wandering is a self-generated thought, notably happens when people are working on an attention-demanding task, which is both task‐unrelated and stimulus‐independent (Stawarczyk, Majerus, Maj, Van der Linden, & D’Argembeau, 2011, p. 370). While some argue that daydreaming can be beneficial, it can distract someone while she is trying to finish a task. Furthermore, knowing Threaded Cognition Theory can help with improving the concentrating ability. This theory explains how the brain processes work and prove that people should do the complex tasks separately.

According to Threaded Cognition Theory, thoughts and actions are similar to strings that need a serial of procedural resources to get processed (Salvucci, D. D., & Taatgen, N. A., 2008, p. 101). This theory explains why doing multiple complex tasks at the same time is either extremely difficult or not possible. A simple example to understand Threaded Cognition Theory described by Salvucci, D. D., & Taatgen, N. A., is to consider a chef trying to cook fish, cake, and steak at the same time. Cooking tasty food on the stove requires enough attention and a specific temperature for each type of foods. Since the oven is a required resource for all fish, cake, and the steak, there will be some conflicts, and the chef cannot cook all the foods simultaneously. As a result, she needs to wait until the oven is empty and ready for baking the next food. Also, the chef needs to do these tasks separately since he/she cannot put the fish in the oven and mix the ingredients at the same time. Our brain process is similar to the example. In fact, the resources in our brain that process different thoughts are limited. As a result, we cannot simultaneously process multiple tasks that need to use the same resource.

In Threaded Cognition Theory, kitchen tools analogize to resources such as perceptual and motor resources, and orders analogize to goals. As a result, conflicts can happen when various tasks need the same resources at the same time to get processed (e.g., driving and texting). This fact can prove that I need to work on one task at a time to improve my focus ability and get the better results. Thus, I will use my time wisely by dividing tasks and giving each, a certain amount of time. I can set a timer for the amount of time I think is needed to finish an assignment, and I would make sure that I do not interfere that task with anything else. At the end of the dedicated time, I would evaluate to check whether the dedicated time was enough or more time is required to be spent. I will make sure to have breaks in between tasks and give my brain enough time to rest and to be refreshed for the next assignment. Also, while I am working, I will always have a paper next to me, so I can write down the thoughts that distract me, which can significantly help me with avoiding the distractions. I believe doing these will significantly improve my concentration ability which can result in an improvement in my performance.

I have started removing distraction stimuli from my environment while I am trying to focus on one single task, and it has been super useful. For example, since I am managing a group of programmers working on a project for the college, there is always some questions to be answered by me. As a result, I would quickly get distracted by trying to answer their questions, while I have been busy writing my semester essay. However, whenever I was reading articles and writing the semester essay, I would put my phone in my backpack and turn off all the notifications for my laptop to avoid being distracted by them. This simple approach has been helped me a lot to stay focused on one single task until I finish it. I believe that knowing how the process of learning, memory, and problem-solving can help people to improve their concentration abilities, which will result in becoming more successful people for their society.

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