Helpful hints for focus

Break it Down

Provide one direction at a time.

Multiple requests (brush your teeth, make your bed, get dressed) at the same time will be difficult for someone with attention/focus concerns to remember.

Repeat Directions

Request that the person with focus challenges repeats the direction provided.

Repeating the direction will allow for better recollection of the direction.

Make Eye Contact

Proximity is key when providing directions.

Eye contact and one-on-one direction can positively impact attention and task completion.

Consider Your Voice

The use of a very quiet to moderately loud voice will yield more attention from your
audience than yelling.

Look for Visual Opportunities

Using visual cues when providing directions/instructions will help those who respond positively to visual stimuli. A picture to depict a responsibility (brush teeth, make bed, etc.) can be beneficial.

How The Brain Focuses

Responses to Emotion

Emotionally-charged events are remembered better than “neutral” events. The brain remembers emotional components of events moreso than specific details of events.

“Gist” Before Details

The brain is more capable of remembering and focusing on the “gist” of an experience, rather than a step-by-step recollection of details.
The brain functions best when it is able to code or associate information in a logical and organized manner.
Teaching/learning tip: Start with the key ideas, presenting them in order of importance. Once you’re through the key concepts, then add a layer of information to each key point.

Myth of Multi-tasking

The brain naturally focuses on tasks in a sequential order, one at a time.
The brain’s ability to multi-task while paying attention is a myth. “We are biologically incapable of processing attention-rich inputs simultaneously.”
Example of multi-tasking: “Paying attention” to an email or paper while listening to music, text messaging, and searching the Internet.

Mental Break

The brain requires mental breaks, especially when being presented with a lot of information or material at once, like in a lecture, seminar, sermon, meeting, etc.

Providing large amounts of material in a short amount of time does not allow the brain to “connect the dots,” meaning no time for processing or recollection.

Distraction Busters

1. Organize It

– Color code by the importance
– Use visual tools like a whiteboard for mapping
– Use due dates to create order
– Use folders for assignments

2. Break It Down

– Choose a deadline
– Split task into small pieces
– Take a brain break

3. Be Prepared

– Keep backpack in same spot
– De-clutter one day a week
– Breathe deeply before a task

4. Celebrate!

– Give yourself a reward for a job well done!