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5 Tips To Become A Master Problem Solver

Yitang Zhang recently solved a math problem other mathematicians had been working on for over 150 years.

How did he solve it? “Concentration,” he says.

Concentration doesn’t happen by chance, it takes planning and effort. Here are five data-driven ways to enhance your ability to concentrate:

1. Have a Roadmap

Strategically plan ahead and know the exact steps to reach your goals. Have an idea about how to get from point A to point B. “That constant awareness of what is next is what keeps you focused.” 

2. Peak Time

What time of the day are you at your best? Research suggests self-control is highest in the morning, so this is a good time to tackle a challenging project. Work on something that is a priority, and save email catch-ups for later.

3. One Thing at a Time

Multitasking is the antithesis of concentration. Designate specific times of the day to check email, messages and other social media.

4. Optimize Your Environment

Create a peaceful workspace. Plants and natural light are natural productivity enhancers. Minimize external distractions. Noises are particularly disruptive. Consider wearing headphones and turn off digital notifications.

5. Smell the Roses

Breaks are essential. Walks outside are an especially effective stress-reliever and productivity-booster. Getting enough sleep, spending time with loved ones and meditation all enhance focus.

Yitang Zhang explains his strategy:

I like to walk and think. This is my way. My wife would see me and say, ‘What are you doing?’ I said, ‘I’m working, I’m thinking.’

Figure out the strategy that works best for you. Create your own “concentration ritual” and channel your inner Dr. Zhang.

I wish you all the best,

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