Samantha Boardman M.D.

Positive Prescription

How to Be a Genius

5 Hacks to Access Your Inner Einstein

Posted Oct 22, 2015

Yitang Zhang is a math superhero. He recently solved a math problem that fellow mathematicians had been working on for more than one hundred and fifty years.

When asked how he finally managed to solve it, he had a simple answer: “Concentration.”

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. You need to 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 might be the right time to tackle a challenging project. Instead of catching up on email the second you sit down at your desk, work on something that is a priority.

3. One Thing at a Time: Multitasking is the enemy 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. Also, minimize external distractions. Noises are particularly disruptive, especially the ping of incoming email and messages. Consider wearing headphones and turn off digital notifications.

5. Smell the Roses: Taking breaks is essential. Going for walks outside is an especially effective stress-reliever and productivity booster. Getting enough sleep, spending time with loved ones and meditation all enhance focus.

Math genius Yitang Zhang explains his:

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.

Concentration and mental toughness are the margins of victory.  -Bill Russell

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