Whether you’re at work, studying, or checking things off your to-do list at home, sometimes it can be difficult to concentrate on the task at hand. If you’re looking for tips on how to focus better plus natural solutions for maintaining concentration you’re in the right place.
Setting yourself up for success when it comes to focus is a multifaceted process involving creating a functioning workspace and managing your time, as well as taking care of your body and nourishing your brain in the right ways.
In this article, we’ll discuss all of it, from brain-supporting herbs to suggestions on how to effectively organize your time and space.*
Take a few minutes to read through the following ideas and see which ones will fit into your lifestyle to help your concentration.
How to Maintain Focus and Concentration
1) Support Energy Without the Caffeine Crash
If you turn to coffee to get going in the morning, you’re certainly not alone. Even if you go for another cup (or two) later in the day, you’re still in good company.
To be sure, caffeine can make you feel more awake, clear-headed, energetic, and efficient.1 Which is, of course, what you want if you’re trying to focus.
However, too much caffeine can leave you anxious, jittery, and worse off than before. Not to mention, you can become dependent on that extra cup of joe, putting you in a tight spot if you can’t have it one day.
Instead of loading up on coffee to stay energized, turn to caffeine in small doses in addition to supplements that can support energy without the caffeine crash.*
We recommend Gaia Herbs Energy Vitality: Made with an invigorating blend of herbs that help the body adapt to stress and support healthy energy levels—Ginkgo, Ginseng, Green Tea, and Nettle—this herbal supplement may offer the boost you need.*
For more information about these herbs (and others!) and how they can support energy, read our article Natural Herbs to Support Energy & Stamina (Without the Caffeine Crash).*
2) Get Plenty of Sleep
Speaking of caffeine, which many people use when sleep-deprived to put an extra pep in their tired step, let’s talk about sleep.
According to the scientific literature, “Insufficient sleep leads to a general slowing of response speed and increased variability in performance, particularly for simple measures of alertness, attention, and vigilance.”2
For you, learning how to maintain focus during the day may simply mean finding a way to get enough sleep at night. That being said, we realize that a full, sound night of slumber is not always easy to come by.
To help yourself get a good night’s rest naturally, try cutting down on caffeine during the day, taking herbs for sleep support, winding down with a cup of Gaia Herbs Sleep & Relax Herbal Tea, meditating, and staying away from all screens an hour or two before bedtime.*
3) Incorporate Brain-Nourishing Herbs into Your Routine*
Before we get into our tips for organizing your time and space to promote focus and concentration, we’d like to discuss a couple of ways to use herbs to nourish your brain.*
“Better focus is a common concern, especially these days with all of the distractions around us,” says Susan Hirsch, Gaia Herbs Formulation Manager. “One of my top herbs that I personally turn to help my mind stay clear and focused is Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica). This nutritive herb has been traditionally used to help promote mental alertness, in part because it supports healthy circulation to the brain and throughout the body.”
She’s also a big fan of Bacopa. Indeed, research suggests that Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri) may support cognition and attention.*3 Susan notes that it’s regularly used to support learning and memory as well.*
Several common herbs, including Spearmint, may also help support cognitive function. Researchers have begun investigating this member of the mint family in particular for its ability to help maintain focus, with intriguing results.*5
Here are three of our favorite herbal supplements for brain and cognitive support.*
We are proud to grow and cultivate the finest-quality Bacopa in our own Gaia Herbs Greenhouse in North Carolina and to be one of the only US sources for this Ayurvedic herb.
At Gaia Herbs, we are firm believers that the quality of an herbal supplement can only be as good as the quality of the herbs that go into it. That’s why many of the herbs in our products are grown on our Certified Organic farm, where we can cultivate them exactly how we want.
For plants used in our supplements that we cannot grow on our farm or in the quantity that we need, our network of organic and sustainable growers allows us to source herbs from where they grow best and where conditions are ideal to produce the highest possible level of botanical compounds.
To learn more about our herbs and supplements, visit meetyourherbs.com, the world’s first herb traceability platform. Simply type in the herb ID on your product and discover the purity, potency, and integrity of what you’re taking.
You can rest assured that this supplement is purity-tested, vegan, and free of dairy, gluten, soy, corn, sugar, and yeast.
Lastly, we’d like to mention an herbal supplement that contains Gotu Kola. Gaia Herbs Mental Alertness is made with a synergistic blend of herbs traditionally known for supporting mental clarity, focus, and memory.*
4) Remove Distractions
You don’t need us to tell you that distractions (like noise or notifications on your phone, just to name two) can reduce your focus and concentration. But it never hurts to be reminded.
For better focus, remove distractions from your space before starting your task. Checking your phone once might not take much time, but according to research, “It takes 30 to 60 seconds to refocus on one task after transferring attention to a second one.”5
That brings us to our next point: multitasking.
5) Avoid Multitasking
Contrary to popular opinion, multitasking—or, rather, trying to multitask—can actually reduce your productivity.
As experts note, “Multitasking is a misnomer because our brains can really only focus on one task at a time. When we think we are doing three things at once, our brains actually switch back and forth from task to task.”5
To sustain focus and concentration, turn your full attention to one task at a time.
6) Work in Spurts
Another way to stay focused on the task at hand is to work for a defined, short period of time, such as half an hour.
You may have heard of the Pomodoro Technique, which involves setting a timer for 25 minutes, working until the timer goes off, and then taking a five-minute break. After four cycles, you give yourself a 20- or 30-minute break.
We recommend experimenting with different amounts of time to see what works for you.
7) Take Breaks
Even if setting a timer or following the Pomodoro technique is not ideal for you, make sure you take regular breaks.
Powering through a project might seem like the best way to get it done, but you will probably be less productive and less focused in the long run when you deny your brain and body the breaks they need.
8) Turn Big Projects into Small Goals
Focusing on one task at a time can feel like an impossibility if you have a huge project looming. Try breaking big projects into smaller, individual goals and writing them down on a to-do list.
Be specific with the smaller tasks that need to be done, and make each item on your list achievable. Once you’ve finished, enjoy the satisfaction of crossing it off the list before moving to the next item.
9) Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is about being fully present and aware of the moment. We know that doesn’t always come easily.
To make mindfulness a part of your daily life, start by meditating for five minutes, eating without distractions, or stretching (and listening to your body) when you take a break from work. These actions can have positive effects when you’re back to your task later.
One study suggests that even just 10 minutes of meditation per day can help you sustain focus and concentration.6
Support Your Body and Learn How to Maintain Focus
Sustaining focus and concentration isn’t only about getting rid of distractions or employing special time-management strategies. It’s also about supporting your body and brain so that you can stay on task and be productive.
In addition to the strategies we mentioned in this article such as working in spurts, taking breaks, and breaking big projects into small goals, support a healthy mind: Get enough sleep, meditate, and try brain-nourishing supplements, like Gaia Herbs Bacopa or Nootropic Focus.*
Clear focus might not happen overnight, but with these practical tips and the right herbs, you’ll be on task in no time.
1. P. D. Leathwood and P. Pollet, “Diet-Induced Mood Changes in Normal Populations,” Journal of Psychiatric Research 17 (1982-1983): 147-54, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6764931.
2. William D. S. Killgore, “Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Cognition,” Progress in Brain Research 185 (2010): 105-29, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21075236.
3. Chuenjid Kongkeaw et al. “Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials on Cognitive Effects of Bacopa Monnieri Extract,” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 151, no. 1 (2014): 528-35, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24252493.
4. Paul H. Falcone et al. “The Attention-Enhancing Effects of Spearmint Extract Supplementation in Healthy Men and Women: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel Trial,” Nutrition Research 64 (April 2019): 24-38, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nutres.2018.11.012.
5. Sarina Schrager, MD, MS and Elizabeth Sadowski, MD, “Getting More Done: Strategies to Increase Scholarly Productivity,” Journal of Graduate Medical Education 8, no. 1 (2016): 10-13, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4763375.
6. “The Benefits of Meditation: Improving Focus and Concentration with Mindfulness Meditation,” National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine, accessed April 8, 2021, https://www.nicabm.com/the-benefits-of-meditation-improving-focus-and-concentration-with-mindfulness-meditation.