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Very often I'm being interpreted while working or studying, sometimes the interruptions are small, and take a minute and sometimes it requires more than few minutes.

How do I quickly restore concentration to the point I was interrupted?

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5 Answers 5

Once tip is keeping some state before you acknowledge the interruption. For example, write down what you were up to or a question before answering the phone. Another approach is to minimize the interruptions - put up a sign you for people to e-mail you or come back later.

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Practice executive functioning regularly to improve the function. Every half hour when the bell tolls, put everything down, get a good stretch, and ask yourself: "What am I going to do for the next half hour?" This is a great recovery system for people who have a tendency to go on tangents, and it builds self confidence because people generally make good choices when they empower themselves by asking themselves. Eventually, with practice, it will be more natural.

You should also write or memorize logical orders, especially if you find yourself conflicted when you ask yourself what's next. I think it's easier to decide, for example, that you want to cook a nice meal, when you know that the first thing you always do is get out the cook book, and the second thing you do is find the ingredients.

-Update-

I have done additional research on this topic, recently. Timers, in general, are useful for up-keeping concentration. In educational settings, 20 seconds is considered a long time to go without whole-class interactions, and even fewer for multiple dialogues. Focused attention doesn't usually last more than 20 seconds, and the idea is to maintain focused attention.

Sustained focus is better for setting long-term goals. If you study for 30 minutes a day, for example, you may be able to learn 20 new words in a foreign language, giving you about 100 days to "survival"--being able to ask for help, get directions, buy food, etc.

In your life:

In software, when selecting study apps: select apps with timers. When studying the traditional way, use timers (more than one if possible). Use a 10-30 second burst timer and a 2-minute extended-focus timer. I use the extended focus timer for things like reading, where I feel my attention is naturally refocused to the task. And then, set another to the duration you need to sustain your focus (i.e., 40 minutes--my goal). Experiment with the numbers.

If you're someone who really needs timers, you can use a visual alarm clock (on your phone or PC). It just sends a flash of light every x seconds. You can build your own macro. Here's a useful cron string to help: */20 * * * * (every 20 seconds, do something).

There are other methods. For example, if you know that you will naturally end up somewhere, you can put a checklist there. I have a checklist on my door, which I gravitate towards when I'm getting ready in the morning. It's a little whiteboard that says:

Get your wallet.
Pack your PC.
Put your coat on.
Turn the upstairs lights off.

And various other things I sometimes forget at great expense. This certainly addresses a different kind of attention, but in my small home, it's tantamount to the same thing.

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Oh, thanks. I've got some other stuff that I could add: create a comfort zone. If I really want to focus, I put on The Best of The Grateful Dead and have a cup of juice by me. You might also want to keep a tool kit near by. And no need to lose focus when you have everything you need in your zone. Practice the task (for example, you can practice sleeping or reading to increase frequency and duration of the same; likewise, practice being distracted increases distraction time, so get yourself a nice set up). Also, I think that attitude control helps. Thanks, guys. The badge rocks. –  Wolfpack'08 Jun 30 '12 at 3:32

Five solutions for improving attention and concentration (and hence the ability to restore it):

  • Regular high-intensity physical exercise

    Will boost your energy level, stress capacity, ability to concentrate, mental determination, productivity, and plenty of other factors.

  • Certain stimulant drugs (methylphenidate, amphetamines, etc.)

    Can be very effective, but also very risky if not handled properly, might carry side effects. Only recommended to the tiny number of smart, educated people who know exactly what they're doing.

  • Reduction of mental stress (conflict avoidance, massage therapy, meditation, etc.)

    People have limited stress capacity. Exhaust yours, and your concentration takes a dip.

  • Sufficient sleep

    If you hate your alarm clock, it's not enough. It's your feeling that counts, not numbers.

  • Sufficient carbohydrate consumption throughout the day

    A snack every now and then helps you stay focussed and energized.

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Prescription strength drugs are hardly a sustainable strategy. The increased intake of carbohydrates, depletes your energy more than sustains energy. Better to eat better meals. –  manuelhe Feb 19 at 18:31

There is a very nice link here:

5 Tips to Maximize Your Ability to Concentrate

To make sure that this answer always remains useful even if the article link goes down, I have pasted contents from above article.

5 Tips to Maximize Your Ability to Concentrate

The quality and quantity of work you can produce is dependent, not only on the effort you put in, but on your ability to concentrate. No matter how hard to you try, if your brain isn’t performing well, you won’t be as productive as you should be.

Although many of the factors affecting concentration are beyond your control, a large amount is determined by behavior. These 5 tips will help you get your mind functioning at peak performance so you can excel at highly creative activities like writing, brainstorming, and strategic thinking.

1. Get Your Rest.

It might seem obvious, but the biggest factor affecting concentration is rest. If you aren’t well rested your mind will be scattered and lethargic. Avoid this by making sure you get the right amount of sleep at the right time. Set a regular bed time for yourself and use an evening routine to wind down so you don’t have trouble sleeping.

It’s also important not to sleep too much. Oversleeping disrupts your natural rhythm and leads to grogginess. Avoid this by having a set wake up time. If you have to choose, I’ve found that it’s better to get a little less sleep than too much. If you end up tired, your body will compensate by helping you get to sleep earlier the following night.

2. Make a Plan.

When you sit down to work without a plan, it’s easy to get caught up in crutch activities like checking email and browsing the web. Without a purpose, your mind will be pulled in several different directions. Instead of devoting all your attention to one important task, you’ll find yourself distracted by a variety of nagging thoughts.

To avoid this, make a clear plan of action beforehand. If you need to check email, resolve to fire through it as quickly as possible, then close your inbox and move on to your most important task. I like to use a morning run or walk to form my action plan for the day, but another great time to do it is the night before. By making a plan, you decide where your mental energy is allocated instead of allowing to be dispersed randomly.

3. Eat Light and Healthy.

Nothing slows down the mind and body like a big greasy meal. Overeating puts a huge load of digestion on the body, sapping strength from the mind. Maximize your ability to concentrate by eating light and healthy meals. As Thomas Jefferson said, we rarely regret eating too little. It’s likely you’ll find that you need less food to satisfy you than you think. If you run out of energy, keep some healthy snacks on hand to give yourself a quick boost.

4. Exercise.

The body has pent up energy that needs to be used. If you don’t exercise regularly, this energy can manifest itself in the form of a distracted mind. The best way to improve your concentration all day long is by exercising first thing in the morning. This will clear your head, give you a chance to reflect on the day ahead, and allow your body to sweat out impurities. Afterwards you’ll feel rejuventated, cleansed, and ready to take on tough problems.

5. Take Breaks and Mix Up Your Environment.

Stagnation and fatigue are other factors that can negatively affect concentration. When you’ve been working too long in the same place, you start to get stir crazy and lose focus. The best remedy for this is taking breaks and switching up your work environment. When you find yourself losing focus, get up and take a walk. This will get your heart rate up, increase your alertness, and give your mind a chance to work on the problem internally.

It can also be helpful to work in different places. Instead of being chained to your desk all day, make a point of moving around. In a typical day I might spend time working in my apartment, the local library, and at a nearby coffee shop. Each time I move to a new location the change in scenery refreshes me and increases my motivation to work.

Hope this helps you :)

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you don't! My advice is that it is better to learn how to deal with interruptions simply by:

  • being somwhere else where no one can bother you
  • remove crud (ie facebook and email) from your worky-work
  • saying no to people who what your attention when you cant give it (hey, that's actually a perty good definition of the word interruption)
  • defer people to come back later, defer email etc
  • if it cant be deffered, write it down on a list so you can deal with it later

saying no say no or defer interruptions and fix the number of interruptions. Or find a pragmatical way to deal with them.

On average it takes quite some time (I had stats for this, but cant find them) to reestablish yourself on your given task, but you might also 'look' for interruptions yourself in the form of doing other 'work'.

http://businessjournal.gallup.com/content/23146/Too-Many-Interruptions-Work.aspx#1

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifehack/9-ways-to-handle-interruptions-like-a-pro.html

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