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Can't concentrate? Look at this for 40 seconds

The next time your mind wanders, you might be able to regain your focus if you turn your gaze on a specific type of image, says research out of the University of Melbourne.

Next time you can't concentrate, the solution might be simpler than you think.Yocelyn Contreras P./Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes, when you're sitting at the computer all day typing away, checking Facebook, earning a few, what was I saying?

Oh yeah...sometimes it's just a little difficult to concentrate. New research out of the University of Melbourne in Australia might point to a simple solution to help improve our focus.

Researchers there had 150 students sit at computers and push a button as a series of numbers appeared on the screen -- not exactly the most scintillating task. Then they gave the kids a 40-second break. During the break, half of the students were sent to gaze out at a plain concrete roof, while the other half were asked to look upon a green roof filled with flowers and resembling a meadow.

"After the break, students who glanced at the greener vista made significantly less errors and demonstrated superior concentration on the second half of the task, compared to those who viewed the concrete roof," says a university report about the research, which was published in the June issue of the Journal of Environmental Psychology.

"We know that green roofs are great for the environment, but now we can say that they boost attention too," said lead researcher Kate Lee of the University of Melbourne Faculty of Science. "Imagine the impact that has for thousands of employees working in nearby offices."

While you might not be lucky enough to have a green roof nearby to look at when your concentration starts to fall apart, one of the main focuses of the study was emphasizing the importance of taking micro-breaks throughout the workday. So even just getting your eyes and mind off the task at hand for a little bit could prove beneficial. Looking at a restorative nature scene, it seems, could help even more.

"This study showed us that looking at an image of nature for less than a minute was all it took to help people perform better on our task," Lee said.