Craig Lowndes is an Australian V8 Supercar champion. He spends a vast majority of his time at work skillfully driving powerful cars around a track at warp speed. The specialised skills that Craig has developed have led to him achieving global excellence and enabled him to become a V8 Supercar champion.

V8 Supercar driving requires 100% focus. Legendary British racing driver Stirling Moss describes competitive high speed driving perfectly, “It is necessary to relax your muscles when you can. Relaxing your brain is fatal.”

Losing focus and concentration in whatever we do at work can indeed have major consequences.

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How can YOU increase your concentration at work?

Be like a postage stamp – stick to one thing

In our time poor world, it is so easy to get caught up in trying to do twenty things at the same time, aka multi-tasking.  Hordes of us believe that this is a prized skill and do the proverbial octopus dance every day.

Clinical research shows that the reality of multi-tasking is quite different.

We are not wired to juggle several tasks at a time because we just can’t concentrate and focus on any of them, resulting in lacklustre performance and complete lack of effectiveness while at work.

Focus on one thing at a time and you will be amazed at how quickly and effectively you can complete a task or job.

Take a break

Research has shown that working in 90-minute cycles of intense effort followed by a brief recovery period is crucial to maintaining focus and concentration.  This means focusing intently on one task at a time.

The break doesn’t need to be mammoth and can be as simple as a deep-breathing exercise, getting up from your computer for 5 minutes, having a stretch or taking a fuel stop.

The fuel stop will replenish both your brain and your body – setting you up for the next 90-minute bout. We all know how easy it is to work for hours on end without a break, so set a timer if you need to.

Taking regular breaks is crucial to your energy maintenance and recovery.

Some healthy snacks for your break could include:

– ½ cup of grainy cereal like oats or Weet-a-bix with milk

–  A handful of nuts

–  1 piece of fresh fruit

–  1 small tub low fat yoghurt + banana

– Small tin of baked beans or tuna

Coffee culture

Our coffee culture around the world is a thriving phenomenon and many people will swear by their first cup of the day to get them prepared for work.

It’s true that caffeine is a stimulant that speeds up parts of the body and brain and may enhance your performance and focus if used properly.motivation at work _2Most authorities agree that the safe daily upper limit for caffeine is 300mg – equivalent to 3-4 cups of brewed coffee (cafe latte, cappuccino, flat white etc.) and consuming more than this can lead to issues with sleep, excessive alertness (more than you actually need), nausea and anxiety.

The important thing here is to be aware of the amount of caffeine that is right for you and treading that line between enhanced focus and over stimulation, when its hard to get any work done at all.

Caffeine Counter Caffeine (mg)
Brewed coffee (1 cup) 85 – 120
Instant coffee (1 cup) 60
Brewed tea (1 cup) 75
Instant tea (1 cup) 30 – 50
Cocoa powder (2 tsp) 20
Energy drink (250 ml) 80
Milk chocolate (30 g) 6
Cola drink (375 ml can) 40

Drink up

It is so easy to get dehydrated in an air-conditioned work environment, hot or cold. You know that feeling of your brain winding down, down, down?

You have just said hello to dehydration, which can very quickly lead to a headache, nausea and inability to think clearly or work effectively.

Drinking coffee and tea often becomes the go to at work and although they do provide some fluid, alternating with water is a simple way of staying hydrated.

Our bodies are not great at sending a reliable thirst message, sometimes we mistake it for hunger and other times by the time we get the memo, our bodies and brain are already gasping for a drink. 

Position a bottle or glass on your desk as a constant reminder – just aim to drink around 250ml each hour while you are at work.

Connect with Expert Julie Meek 

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