In a working landscape where your train of thought can so easily be derailed by relentless Zoom calls (that novelty wore , right?) and Slack threads, one of the greatest challenges of working from home has, for many, been productivity. Mustering up the same work ethic from your sofa as you have when sat behind your desk, surrounded by your colleagues, in your best office finery, is, at a psychological level, difficult.
Yet even before a global pandemic, productivity had cemented its place as one of the wellness industry’s new frontiers (alongside sleep optimisation and anxiety relief) in the form of focus-enhancing nootropics. Derived from the Ancient Greek words nóos , meaning “mind” and tropḗ , meaning “a turning”, these clever little pills harness the power of natural ingredients that boost your brain so you can get things done more efficiently. Time is money, the saying goes, so why wouldn’t you invest to optimise your own? How can nootropics improve focus?
Nootropic supplements for focus tend to fall into two camps: the ones that bolster the energising effects of caffeine and the ones that mimic its high without. Caffeine is the best-known and most widely consumed stimulant on earth, scientifically proven to improve concentration, alertness and performance (so your morning addiction is not in vein). Too much of it can come with side effects such as “the jitters”, so focus-enhancing nootropics balance out ill-effects with calming amino acids such as L-Theanine. Others opt instead for a cocktail of adaptogens like mushrooms or herbal energy enhancers such as ginseng, bacopa monerri and Ginkgo Biloba. Which natural ingredients should you look for in a focus-enhancing nootropic?
Alongside the ingredients that do their bit to keep you pumped throughout the day, others will directly target areas such as memory retention and mental processing. Adaptogens (a term often used interchangeably with nootropics) such as mushrooms (reishi, lion’s mane, chaga, shitake) are used to enhance cognitive performance, while taurine is a common amino acid shown to improve focus and the flowering plant Rhodiola rosea to improve attention span, mood and work capacity. Some recent supplement output has added CBD to the mix too. Though its benefits remain a research area, studies have alluded to mood stabilisation and reduced stress, which could both work to bolster productivity.
Thanks to natural, plant-based ingredients, these types of supplement don’t come with the warning labels as the doctor-prescribed kind (Adderall and other amphetamines, these are not). As with any supplement, just be sure to only consume the amount prescribed on the label and consult a GP if any health issues might respond badly to the ingredients in your focus-enhancer of choice.