We all have days when we find it difficult to concentrate: we may feel under pressure or unduly tired. Other days we are highly productive, alert, full of energy and in control. You’ve probably heard the expression, “in the Zone”, which is sometimes used to describe the mental state of high-performance sportsmen and women – for example, when a tennis player is annihilating his or her opponent in a Grand Slam final. So what exactly is this Zone, and shouldn’t all of us have access to it?

Over recent years much of my work has involved measuring the different frequencies of electrical activity produced by the brain using an EEG (electroencephalogram). There are a number of frequencies that we all produce, ranging from slow Delta waves, associated with relaxation, stress control and sleep, to fast Beta waves, associated with increased mental activity, decision making and problem solving. These different frequencies all have their functions and play positive roles in our lives. For example, producing Beta waves enables us to tackle the practical, day to-day side of life, but if we produced only these waves all the time we would have no time to regenerate, dream or remember efficiently.

techniques to improve concentration

Having measured my own brainwaves I noticed that I produce a combination of Alpha and Theta waves – that is, mid-range frequencies – when I’m learning, memorizing and recalling most efficiently. I believe you can train your brain to produce these types of frequencies by regularly exercising your memory.

Tips To Access Your Own Memory Zone

These tips will help you to create the ideal conditions for being “in the Zone”.

Try to find a little time every day to stretch your memory by setting yourself small challenges such as memorizing a list of words, a random sequence of numbers, or maybe some more practical data such as the names of people you have recently come into contact with, either at work or socially. You can use the exercises i provide as practice – repeat them as often as you like, or use them as templates for devising new exercises.

Before you try to start memorizing or recalling information, make sure you are physically relaxed and seated comfortably in a quiet room free from noise and visual distraction. If you prefer to work with some sound in the background, then try listening to medium-tempo classical music – avoid more frenetic music such as jazz or heavy metal. Remember, you are seeking a midrange of frequencies between slow and fast brainwaves.

Slow down your mind by closing your eyes and conjuring up pleasant scenes, such as a favourite holiday location or tranquil times from your past. This will help the production of Alpha and Theta waves.

When recalling or reviewing data you have memorized, experiment with closing your eyes to help increase the power of Theta, the memory wave.

Take regular physical exercise to relax and feed your brain with oxygen.

Now you are armed with some solid techniques that you can use to improve your concentration levels and perform better when it comes to memorizing and recalling information.

Dominic O’Brian From Peakperformance.org