brain, training, consulting

Attention Training Techniques

Attention training is an excellent method for maximizing focus and productivity. Improving your attention can also help manage executive dysfunction.

Prefer to listen rather than read? Press play below.

What is Attention Training?

Attention training is a way to improve focus and concentration, especially for those with executive dysfunction. It can help reduce stress, improve productivity, and increase creativity using a variety of techniques.

At its core, attention training is a form of cognitive training that helps you focus on tasks more easily while reducing distractions around you. This type of training also helps to identify mental blocks that might be preventing you from completing tasks efficiently or effectively.

By engaging in attention training regularly, you'll find yourself able to more easily concentrate on tasks at hand while still being aware of potential distractions around you.The

If you need someone in your corner join my Facebook group, Executive Function Support for Women. I will be your cheerleader.

Benefits of Attention Training

Utilizing attention training techniques, you can learn to manage distractions from your environment and increase efficiency. Attention training is beneficial to those suffering from attention deficits caused by executive dysfunction, as well as those looking to develop resilience and focus for long tasks or highly intuitive activities.

The training involves several techniques that help you have greater control over your attention span. These techniques allow better monitoring of the environment, improved time management, and the ability to practice mindful breaks for centering and relaxation.

The benefits that come with attention training include improved cognitive performance, increased concentration, and reduced stress and anxiety. Attention training increases self-awareness and emotional intelligence. It also provides tools for maintaining long-term mental clarity.

Aside from increasing productivity, attention training helps you reduce distractions by identifying and reframing them into something productive or positive. Practicing mindfulness during breaks and other activities also leads to greater control over oneself in various situations. This, in turn, improves not only productivity but also overall well-being by reducing stress levels that result from lack of focus and concentration.

brain, training, consulting

Strategies for Focusing Attention

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is a practice that involves focusing your attention on the present moment without judgment. It cultivates a state of heightened awareness and acceptance of one's thoughts, feelings, and sensations.

Steps to practice mindfulness meditation:

  1. Find a quiet and comfortable space: Choose a calm environment where you can sit or lie down without distractions. This could be a peaceful corner of your home or a quiet outdoor location.
  2. Assume a comfortable posture: Sit in a relaxed yet upright position, either on a cushion or a chair, with your spine straight and your body at ease. Close your eyes or lower your gaze.
  3. Focus on your breath: Take a few deep breaths to settle into the practice. Direct your attention to the sensation of your breath as it enters and leaves your body. Notice the natural rhythm and flow of your breath.
  4. Observe your thoughts and sensations: As you continue to breathe, thoughts and sensations may arise in your mind. Instead of getting carried away by them, simply observe them without judgment. Acknowledge their presence and let them go, gently redirecting your focus back to your breath.
  5. Engage your senses: Expand your awareness to include the sensations in your body, sounds in your environment, and any other sensory experiences. Notice them as they come and go, allowing yourself to fully experience the present moment.
  6. Cultivate non-judgmental awareness: Throughout the practice, maintain a non-judgmental attitude towards your thoughts and experiences. If your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the present moment without criticizing yourself.
  7. Practice regularly: Aim for consistency in your mindfulness meditation practice. Start with a few minutes each day and gradually increase the duration as you become more comfortable. Set a timer or use a meditation app to help you stay on track.

Meditation is not an activity that has to take a long time, especially when you’re just getting started. It’s okay to start small and meditate for 5-10 minutes. As you get better at it and are more comfortable, you can increase the time.

It is an awesome way to relax and recharge, so in addition to reaping the benefits for your attention, it also acts as self-care. Win-win!

Focused Breathing

Focused breathing is a technique that involves directing your attention solely on the breath, using it as an anchor to cultivate present-moment awareness and enhance focus. It is a specific aspect of mindfulness practice that can be used independently as a standalone technique.

Types of focused breathing:

  • Counting breaths: As you breathe in and out, silently count each breath cycle. For example, inhale and mentally count “one,” exhale and count “two,” and so on. When you reach a predetermined number, start over from one. This counting technique helps maintain focus and provides a point of reference for your attention.
  • Noting the breath qualities: Observe the qualities of your breath, such as its depth, pace, or texture. Mentally note whether the breath is shallow or deep, slow or fast, smooth or irregular. This detailed observation enhances your attentiveness and connection to the breath.
  • Sensory awareness: Expand your awareness to include the sensory experience of breathing. Notice how the breath feels as it enters and leaves your body. Pay attention to any physical sensations associated with the breath, such as the gentle movement of your chest or the slight cooling or warming sensation in your nostrils.
  • Extended exhale: Place emphasis on extending the length of your exhalation. As you breathe in, allow the inhalation to happen naturally, and then intentionally lengthen the exhalation by a few counts. This technique promotes relaxation, calmness, and deeper focus.

Focused breathing provides a valuable tool for grounding yourself in the present moment, sharpening your attention, and calming the mind. Incorporate this technique into your daily routine or use it as a quick refocusing practice whenever you need to regain attentional clarity.

attention training techniques

Attention-Building Games and Activities

Attention-building games and activities are interactive exercises designed to enhance focus, concentration, and cognitive flexibility. These engaging tasks provide a structured and enjoyable way to train and strengthen attention skills.

Using these types of activities are a great way to spend your breaks when doing time blocking. They don’t have to take long. They’re usually fun, so you get a dopamine hit for “playing.”


  • Memory games: Play memory-based games such as card matching, where you have to remember the location of cards to make successful pairs. This enhances working memory and attention to detail.
  • Puzzle solving: Engage in puzzles like crosswords, Sudoku, or jigsaw puzzles. These activities require sustained attention, problem-solving, and mental flexibility.
  • Digital attention-training apps: Explore smartphone or tablet apps that are specifically designed to train attention skills. These apps often offer a variety of exercises targeting different aspects of attention, providing a convenient and accessible way to practice. You can go to your app store and search for “memory and attention training” and you’ll find plenty to choose from. Always start with the free ones.
  • Simon Says: Play the classic game of Simon Says, which requires active listening and selective attention to follow instructions accurately. This game helps improve focus and response inhibition. Obviously, you need other people to play with, but if you have kids, they LOVE to be Simon and boss you around.

The key to using attention-building games and activities effectively is to approach them with a playful mindset and consistent practice.

Cognitive Training Programs

Cognitive training programs refer to structured and systematic training protocols designed to improve various cognitive functions, including attention. These programs typically involve a series of computer-based exercises or activities that target specific cognitive abilities.

Just like for memory practice, you can check your app store. Some popular cognitive training programs include Lumosity, Cogmed, and BrainHQ.

Some types of cognitive training activities:

  • Attention Shifting: Practice exercises that require you to shift your attention quickly between different stimuli or tasks. This can involve tasks where you need to switch focus between visual or auditory cues or alternate between different types of mental calculations.
  • Dual Tasking: Engage in exercises that involve performing two tasks simultaneously, such as solving math problems while listening to a specific audio track or reading and answering questions. This improves divided attention skills.
  • Response Inhibition: Focus on exercises that require you to inhibit automatic responses and maintain attention on the relevant stimuli. This can involve tasks where you have to ignore distractions or suppress impulsive reactions.
  • Speed Training: Participate in exercises that aim to increase the speed of your attentional processes. These exercises typically involve rapid identification of stimuli or quick decision-making tasks.

Cognitive training programs are most effective when used as part of a comprehensive approach to attention improvement. Combine them with other techniques, such as mindfulness meditation or attention-building games, for a well-rounded approach to improving your attention skills.

Want to learn more about executive functioning? Take my FREE course.

The Importance of Consistency

Consistency is key when it comes to attention training. Just like any skill, attention requires regular practice and reinforcement to improve and maintain its strength. How does consistency and persistence benefit you?

Building neural pathways

Consistent attention training helps strengthen the neural pathways associated with focused and sustained attention. By practicing regularly, you reinforce these pathways, making it easier for your brain to sustain attention over time.

Developing a habit

Consistency in attention training helps transform it into a habit. By incorporating it into your daily routine, you make it a natural part of your life. Consistent practice makes it easier to maintain focus and attention even in challenging situations.

Long-term benefits

Attention training is not a quick fix but a gradual process. Consistent practice allows you to experience the long-term benefits of improved attention, such as enhanced productivity, better memory, and increased mental clarity.

Avoiding regression

Consistency helps prevent regression or loss of progress. If you skip practice for extended periods, your attention skills may weaken, and you may need to spend extra time and effort to regain the progress you had made. Consistent practice ensures that you continue to build on your previous achievements.

Overcoming challenges and setbacks

Let’s be real. You’re going to have setbacks. It happens to most people when they set out to build new habits or try new things. In this case, you’re trying to build a skill that does NOT come naturally to you. Accept that it’s going to take time and it’ll be challenging.

Patience and resilience

Attention training can be challenging at times, especially when faced with distractions or difficulties in maintaining focus. It's important to cultivate patience and resilience during these moments. Recognize that setbacks are a normal part of the learning process, and persistence is key to overcoming them.

Mindfulness of obstacles

Be mindful of the obstacles that hinder your attention training progress. Identify specific challenges, such as external distractions or internal restlessness, and develop strategies to address them. This might involve creating a conducive environment, setting boundaries, or practicing self-regulation techniques to manage distractions effectively.

Adjusting expectations

Understand that progress in attention training may not always be linear. Some days, your attention may feel more focused, while other days, it may be more challenging. Adjust your expectations and be kind to yourself during periods of difficulty. Remember that each practice session contributes to overall progress, even if it feels small.

Seeking support

If you find yourself struggling with attention training, don't hesitate to seek support. Consider working with an executive function coach, joining a support group, or seeking guidance from a mentor or expert in the field. Having a support system can provide encouragement, accountability, and valuable insights to help you overcome challenges.

Celebrating progress and staying motivated

I know I say this a lot, but I do that because it’s super important. You need to celebrate your wins. When we feel like we’re doing better, getting closer to a goal, or just get something right, our motivation can skyrocket. And sometimes that’s enough to keep us going when things get a little tough.

Track progress

Keep track of your attention training progress to see how far you've come. Use tools like journals, apps, or progress charts to record milestones, improvements, or challenges overcome. Reflecting on your progress can boost motivation and reinforce the benefits of consistent practice.

Recognize small wins

Celebrate even the smallest victories in attention training. Acknowledge moments when you successfully maintain focus for longer durations or overcome distractions. These small wins contribute to the bigger picture of improved attention and deserve recognition.

Reward yourself

Establish a system of rewards for achieving attention training milestones. Treat yourself to something enjoyable or meaningful when you reach specific goals or demonstrate consistent effort. Rewards can provide an extra incentive to stay motivated and reinforce the positive association with attention training.

Attention training can equip you with the necessary tools to remain focused and productive, even in challenging environments. If you face executive dysfunction issues such as difficulty paying attention or staying on task for an extended period without becoming quickly distracted, implementing strategies as discussed can help you improve focus and concentration.

Attention is a skill that can be developed and refined with dedicated effort and practice. So, commit to consistent training, embrace the journey, and enjoy the rewards of a sharpened and more focused mind.

Similar Posts