Hey! Hello? Yoo-hoo! Over here! Yeah, you! It seems you have a bit of trouble focusing. That’s ok, it’s a common problem. Normal ageing means you could find it harder to focus and retain information. It happens to the best of us, but the good news is you can improve your focus with these few helpful tips!
1. Find Out What Distracts You
The first thing you should do when working on your focus is to figure out what distracts you. The biggest source of distractions is other people, competing priorities, general distractions and workload. It may sound obvious but there are many things that can distract you in everyday life. A big one is your smartphone and the Internet. If you know you’re going to be tempted to check Instagram, try putting your phone somewhere you can’t access it easily. If you find yourself surfing the web, try disconnecting while you’re trying to get a particular task done. Finding out what distracts you the most and them eliminating it (or drastically reducing the opportunity) should make a big difference in your productivity.
2. Have A Dedicated Workspace
If your workspace is noisy, cluttered and unorganized it’s going to be hard for you to focus on anything. Ambient noise can cause your body to release more of the stress hormone called Cortisol and too much cortisol can impair your focus. Make sure your workspace is quiet and clean. If it’s other people that distract you, ask to not be disturbed while you try and focus, or listen to music that will help keep you focused and drown out ambient sound.
Having a clean workspace is key to staying focused. Research shows that cluttered spaces can have a negative effect on our anxiety and stress levels and cause you to lose not only your focus but sleep too. If you work from home, try to have a dedicated space just for your work, and keep it separate from your home life as much as possible. If you can’t focus until your desk is clean, that takes time away from you completing your goal. Instead, clean your desk and get everything ready before you dig into the task at hand.
3. Create A To-Do List
The most successful people plan out what needs to be done. We’re talking about the famous To-Do list. Studies show that creating a plan for the day can increase your productivity. Not only that, but it frees your mind from worrying about the things you have yet to do. Making a To-Do list can help you determine what needs to be done first and can assist in organizing your day to make it more manageable. Place the more urgent, or time-sensitive tasks at the top, and less important tasks at the bottom.
You can also break down these tasks into smaller chunks, to make them more manageable. For example, if you have to write a bug report, don’t just put “write a report” on your list, instead list the steps, like “write introduction”. This will help to make your list much more effective, and less intimidating.
4. Get Your Beauty Rest
Admit it, you probably saw this one coming. Getting a goodnight’s sleep can help you focus but it can also be beneficial to your health in so many ways. To learn more about that, check out our video called “The Effects Of Sleep Deprivation On Your Body” The average recommended amount of sleep for an adult is about 7 or more hours a night. Loss of sleep is one of the most common treatable that impacts daily functioning. If you don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis it can impact your health in a number of ways including your focus. Try making sleep a priority, and give your body what it needs so you can focus.
Yes, we all know exercise is good for the body, AND the mind. Moving your body on a regular basis has numerous health benefits. This includes brain health, as regular exercise can improve your memory capacity and concentration. It’s likely you often sit while working, and while it is necessary to be still sometimes, you should try incorporating some exercise into your daily routine. Doctors recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise or 15 minutes of intense exercise a day. Remember it can be anything from a simple walk at the end of the day or a yoga class. The important thing is that it’s something you enjoy and makes you feel good. That way you’ll get the most out of your workout, both physically and mentally.
6. Eat Something
When you’re trying to get something done, especially when there’s a deadline it’s easy to skip lunch, but hunger is pretty unavoidable and will soon become an unwanted distraction. Letting yourself go hungry can cause your blood sugar to dip, which can make you feel sluggish and tired. It’s really hard to focus on anything besides food when you’re feeling hungry, so listen to your body and get something to eat. Not only that, you should aim for something healthy, that’s good for your body and your mind. Food with little to no nutrition like processed and fast food can spike your blood sugar and destroy your focus, too. Protein, fatty acids, D and B vitamins and iron are all essential things that will help you focus and keep your ability to concentrate strong. Try eating some brain food like salmon, blueberries, walnuts and leafy vegetables like spinach, kale or even broccoli.
7. Have A Little Bit Of Coffee
Are you a coffee lover? Well, the good news is you don’t have to give it up to stay focused. In fact, a cup of coffee (maybe even two) can actually improve your workflow if you’re feeling a little groggy. The caffeine in your cuppa joe is a mild stimulant so when you’re feeling a little fuzzy in the morning, you’ve had a good sleep and a nice healthy breakfast, coffee can work its magic in helping to perk you up, and can even reduce anxiety in small doses. That being said, if you overdo it caffeine can have negative effects like increased anxiety, and nervousness and could give you the jitters. Some studies suggest you should limit your intake to about 400mg of caffeine per day for healthy adults, but it really depends on the person. You just have to figure out what works for you.
8. Take A Break
We don’t mean take a break before you even get started. We mean when your attention starts to naturally drift. We’ve all been there, you’ve put in a solid hour or two working on a project. Or, maybe you’ve completed a few things on that To-Do list we were talking about earlier, well if that’s the case then you’ve earned a short break. A few studies suggest that taking a small break when you’re finding it hard to concentrate can help bring your focus back. The idea is that your brain simply stops registering whatever you’re looking at, smelling or listening to if that sensation has been going on for a long time. For example, you probably don’t feel the glasses on your face most of the time. That’s because your body has gotten used to the feeling and no longer focuses on that sensation. Researchers believe your attention span works in a similar way. The length of the break is up to you, but just make sure it’s not too long. You don’t want to lose your focus entirely.
9. Establish A Routine
Keeping your focus is one thing, but creating good habits that will help you keep your focus along the way is a great tool to have. This means creating a routine that involves dedicated focus hours. Why not designate some of your precious time to get important things done. If you carve out some time for a specific task (like getting the really difficult stuff done) each day, it will become easier and more habitual. Giving yourself a smaller window of time to get things done could help you cut down on wasted brainpower. It could also help ease the anxiety that comes with any deadline. If you develop these good habits, tackling those big jobs won’t seem like such a daunting task in the first place.