1. Stop stressing. Stress releases a flood of hormones into the brain that tells it to widen its focus and look for danger. Then it zooms in — often on the wrong thing entirely.
2. Find a hobby. It should be relaxing and enjoyable, but must require focus. Try playing a sport, crafting, learning a language, cooking, playing chess — whatever. It must put your brain into the right zone (focused yet chill). Watching television doesn’t count — it’s too passive
3. Practice your hobby — a lot. And never feel guilty about taking the time to do it. Finding and using the zone requires practice so it’s strong enough when you really need it.
4. Meditate. Aim for 40 minutes once a week and 10 minutes every other day. If you can’t sit still, “moving meditations” such as yoga, swimming, or walking might do the trick.
5. Take regular breaks. These must be a total distraction from whatever you are doing. Try listening to loud music or taking a short walk outside. Afterward, your brain will be ready to get back into the zone and focus on a task.Caroline Williams is a writer based in England whose work has appeared in New Scientist Magazine, The Guardian, and the BBC. This story is excerpted from her new book, “My Plastic Brain: One Woman’s Yearlong Journey to Discover If Science Can Improve Her Mind,” copyright © 2017 by Caroline Williams. Reprinted by arrangement with Prometheus Books. All rights reserved. Send comments to the magazine at firstname.lastname@example.org.