At a Glance: For better focus when studying, load up on water, put away unnecessary devices and try a quick meditation practice.
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Fact: We spend nearly 50 percent of our waking hours thinking about things other than the task we’re engaged in. All of that inattention can create serious drag as you motor through your day — whether you’re tackling a work deadline, listening to a class lecture or helping your teenager tackle homework. Want to rein in your brain? Start training it to stay focused by giving these tips a try.


Go analog

One of the biggest culprits stealing our attention is, of course, the Internet. (The average worker spends 30 hours a week checking email!) So whenever possible, ditch the devices. Important work meeting? Leave your laptop at your desk and bring a legal pad and a pen. Have an in-person meeting with classmates to hash through a presentation? Put all of your smartphones in the center of the table — the first person to grab his or her phone to reply to a text buys the next round of coffee. You get the idea.



Mild dehydration — the kind where you don’t even feel thirsty — can lead to inattention. How much water is enough? The Institute of Medicine advises men to drink about 13 cups of beverages that contain water and women to drink nine cups daily.



Meditation is to your brain what weightlifting is to your muscles — an effective, proven training method. In a recent study at the University of California, Santa Barbara, meditation was shown to be more effective than healthier eating when it came to scoring higher on memory tests and exercises requiring attention. The study reported that, “cultivating mindfulness is an effective and efficient technique for improving cognitive function, with wide-reaching consequences.”

These simple steps will help you train your mind to stop wandering so much. You’ll be a more productive and likely happier human in the long run!

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