Ideally, we need to ensure that our ventral and dorsal attention networks are aligned. How do we do this? The answer lies with the reason that we are distracted in the first place. The reality is not just that we think other things are more important, but also that we feel that what we should be doing isn’t important. You may consciously know that you need to clean the house, go to the gym or tidy up. That’s your dorsal network doing its job. But your body doesn’t know that. To your body, this is an unstimulating activity that isn’t serving any of your prime directives. Our brain needs stimulation and that corresponds with neural activity that comes from doing something that seems biologically important. This is why we find it easy to focus on games or movies that are charged with emotion.
Another tip is to make whatever you’re doing more interesting and more fun if you can, which makes it more salient to your brain. I always say that the best cure for writer’s block in particular is to make the scene or the paragraph you’re writing more interesting. If it’s not interesting enough to write, then it likely won’t be interesting to read! Oh, and once you get into the flow – make sure that there is nothing there to break that concentration.
THE POWER OF MEDITATION
Another trick is to practice meditation. Meditation is nothing mystical, it is all about focusing the mind and taking control of your attention. When you meditate, you practice clearing the mind of distracting thoughts and focusing on nothing. This is literally a way to train your salience network just as you would train your muscles in the gym; it can build great focus and discipline.
Meditation teaches you to detach from those distracting stressors and to let go of things that might be playing on your mind. It provides the most significant upgrade to your well-being, productivity, and focus. In my opinion, it is something that everyone should be doing. But meditation is hard to do if you have low motivation! It is best to start out with just small 5-minute sessions and to try tacking this onto a habit that is already a part of your routine. If you regularly work out, then try meditating after your gym sessions. This will calm the mind, giving you the opportunity to think on your feet.