Return to site

Professor Kevin Dalby Shares five Ways Anyone Can Improve Their Concentration

Originally published on

The key to quality and productive work is concentration. Concentration is a valuable skill for any human to tune into their profession, research, or relaxation time. The deeper the level of concentration one can reach, the more reward one will find from utilizing such a focus.  

Kevin Dalby, Austin Texas-based activist of cancer treatment, is a professor of chemical biology and medicinal chemistry at The University of Texas. Dalby's career requires him to access deep levels of concentration for his work and research on cancer cell signaling mechanisms to develop targeted therapeutics. Dalby reveals five helpful ways that have helped him reach more extensive focus abilities: 

1. Start with Environment 

A great place to start when attempting to sharpen concentration skills is focusing on beneficial environments. The environment a person chooses to be in when trying to reach a deeper level of concentration matters. There should be minimal distractions and clean workspace - de-cluttering allows the mind to think more orderly, freely, and clearly. Set the brain up for success by creating the ideal individually unique environment to reach maximum concentration. Listen to classical music or sounds of nature while breathing in rosemary aromatherapy to enhance cognitive performance.

2. Brain Games

Having the ability to reach deep levels of concentration does not happen overnight. By training the brain over time one sees progressive improvements in concentration. Moreover, it helps improve memory, too. Games such as crossword puzzles and brain training methods like dual n-back help refine cognitive development. Dual n-back is a memory sequence test that requires individuals to recall a series of continually updated visual or auditory stimuli.

3. Avoid Multitasking 

Attempting to multitask when working might look like higher productivity on the outside, but it is not in the end. Not many people are good at effectively multitasking. Changing areas of concentration rather than sticking to one can decrease productivity because switching tasks takes more of a toll on cognitive energy. 

4. Increase Exercise and Sleep

Taking a break from work to increase exercise and sleep can vastly assist in increasing cognitive focus. Choosing to exercise in nature is a double plus. Both physical activity and scenes of green can improve one's ability to concentrate as well as develop one's memory and reaction time. Frequent exposure to nature has also been shown to be advantageous for child cognitive development. Sleep is also crucial for maximum focus. How difficult is it to hone in on work while constantly yawning? People who lack sleep are not nearly as productive as those with the proper amount of pillow time. Getting the necessary hours of rest is also vital for memory consolidation. 

5. Try Less

Unfortunately, humans have a way of talking themselves out of attempting to reach a more attentive state. The nemesis of concentration is stress, and when the brain feels the extra pressure to tackle an enormous task, more mistakes are likely to be made. Research studies targeting brain imaging experiments by Joe DeGutis and Mike Esterman at the Boston Attention and Learning Lab in Massachusetts reflect that taking more frequent breaks during long assignments boosts mental concentration.

About Kevin Dalby

Dr. Kevin Dalby is a professor of chemical biology and medicinal chemistry in the College of Pharmacy, Department of Oncology at The University of Texas in Austin. He the director of the Targeted Therapeutics Program (TTP). This program provides Texas scientists access to resources for drug discovery research. By understanding cancer cell signaling, Dr. Dalby works to make advances in the development of targeted pharmaceuticals for different cancers.