Reading time: 5 minutes

1. Work environment

To be able to concentrate properly, you need to create a proper working environment. Quiet, light, fresh air, cleanliness and a comfortable desk and chairs are important. If you work in a team, tell your colleagues not to disturb you. If it's not in your power to ensure a quiet environment, don't be afraid to use earplugs or put on headphones with your favourite music. Mute your phone notifications and disconnect from social media. In short, avoid anything that might distract you from your work. Take regular breaks when working or studying. A strategic break can be a great boost for your brain. When you feel mental fatigue setting in, try stepping away from your desk for a few minutes. You can try stretching, taking a walk or spending a few minutes outside enjoying nature.

2. Sleep hygiene

Lack of sleep has a negative impact on the human brain and health. Studies show that sleep deprivation is associated with loss of concentration, prolonged reaction time and an inability to maintain attention.(1, 2, 3) For example, 48 hours without sleep impairs cognitive abilities to the same level as a blood alcohol concentration of 1 per thousand.(4) Sleep deprivation can also contribute to a range of health problems, such as heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and obesity. So give yourself 7-9 hours of sleep a day in an undisturbed environment and focus on basic sleep hygiene.

3. Healthy eating

A healthy and balanced diet is good for our physical and mental health. An inadequate diet, on the other hand, can increase feelings of fatigue and impair our ability to concentrate. In addition to sufficient energy intake and all important nutrients, it is good to focus on specific foods. Foods that are beneficial for concentration are vegetables, berries (especially blueberries), cocoa and dark chocolate with a cocoa content of more than 70%, nuts and seeds, oily fish (such as salmon), wholegrain cereals and green tea. These foods are rich in nutrients and antioxidants that have a positive effect on our mental performance.

4. Nootropics

For better concentration, we can also use proven brain stimulants. These are called nootropics. Nootropics are substances that serve to improve mental performance, concentration, alertness and learning ability. Nootropics include caffeine, guarana, Ginkgo biloba, ginseng, maca, L-theanine and choline.

  • Caffeine is a natural stimulant that improves cognitive abilities and concentration.
  • Guarana is a natural source of caffeine that promotes mental performance and alertness.
  • Ginkgo biloba or ginkgo biloba supports the brain's cognitive functions and memory.
  • Ginseng improves mental performance, promotes both concentration and memory, and helps to optimise brain function. It also acts as a powerful antioxidant and supports the body's natural defences.
  • Maca contains a variety of health-promoting compounds that support mental and physical health. It also contributes to greater endurance and performance.
  • L-theanine is an amino acid found in green tea that can increase the level of alpha waves in the human brain. This results in increased alertness and cognitive abilities (5, 6, 7, 8).
  • Choline has a positive effect on memory and information processing. It is essential for all neuronal functions, including memory regulation, mood and intelligence. Choline is found in foods such as egg yolk, tripe, legumes and yeast.

5. Time management

Time management can help you focus on individual tasks and goals. Make a list of your tasks and rank them in order of importance. Set reasonable goals for each day and do things in order. Not everything on your list is urgent, so focus on the most important tasks first. Beware of so-called 'multitasking', which often leads to jumping from one task to another without having completed the first. This is much more efficient than working on all fronts in an attempt to complete a single task. Only then can you move on to the next task.

6. Adequacy

Sometimes less is more. If you want to increase your productivity, break large projects into manageable chunks. Think of it this way: you would never eat a three-course meal in one bite, would you? Just as you eat a meal in small bites, try to break your tasks down into smaller chunks so you can focus on one area.

7. Cognitive training

Exercise your brain regularly and for a long time. Cognitive training improves concentration, short-term memory, work capacity and the ability to solve tasks quickly. You can train your brain in many different ways: by doing crosswords and sudokus, reading books, playing memory and strategy games, doing puzzles or meditating, for example.

References: Alhola, P., Polo-Kantola, P. (2007). Sleep deprivation: Impact on cognitive performance. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 3(5), 553-567.Ferrie, J. E., Shipley, M. J., Akbaraly, T. N., Marmot, M. G., Kivimäki, M., Singh-Manoux, A. (2011). Change in sleep duration and cognitive function: findings from the Whitehall II Study. Sleep, 34(5), 565-573.Diekelmann S. (2014). Sleep for cognitive enhancement. Frontiers in systems neuroscience, 8, 46.h, Y., Inagaki, S., Nakagawa, S., Kaneko, T., Kobayashi, M., Takihara, T. (2021). Effects of l-Theanine on Cognitive Function in Middle-Aged and Older Subjects: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Study. Journal of medicinal food, 24(4), 333-341.Evans, M., McDonald, A. C., Xiong, L., Crowley, D. C., Guthrie, N. (2021). A Randomized, Triple-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Study to Investigate the Efficacy of a Single Dose of AlphaWave® L-Theanine on Stress in a Healthy Adult Population. Neurology and Therapy, 10(2), 1061-1078.Nobre, A. C., Rao, A., Owen, G. N. (2008). L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 17, Supp 1, 167-168.Gomez-Ramirez, M., Kelly, S. P., Montesi, J. L, Foxe, J. J. (2009). The effects of L-theanine on alpha-band oscillatory brain activity during a visuo-spatial attention task. Brain Topographym, 22(1), 44-51.Blusztajn, J. K., Slack, B. E., Mellott, T. J. (2017). Neuroprotective Actions of Dietary Choline. Nutrients, 9(8), 815.