A Neuroscientist’s 4 Nonnegotiables For Better Focus & Attention

A similar scenario, but let’s zoom out just a bit: “Pay attention to where your attention is,” Jha says. “and really get granular with that.” 

Let’s say you’re working or trying to complete a certain task, and you feel a mental itch to pick up your phone (a common example, says Jha). “Oftentimes, we’re not aware that we have a mental itch to pick up the phone. We’re already on Twitter… You click on the app, and you’re already on it,” she says. “The reason it feels so compulsive is because we aren’t there for all those intervening steps.” 

That’s why she suggests slowing down and paying attention to each experience. So if you have a sudden urge to pick up your phone, think: “What’s the benefit of doing this right now? What is my goal right now?” If your goal is to, say, read up on a certain news story or find out who won that Grammy award. Identify the goal, and then once you satisfy it, tell yourself you’ll put the phone down.  

“So now, all of a sudden, you are engaging in it with purposeful, goal-related intention,” says Jha. “And you probably won’t feel as bad either, if you can remember that after you check the Grammy’s or Emmy’s, don’t keep scrolling.” 

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