11 Ways To Stay Focused When Your Brain Won’t Allow It

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It can be tough to stay focused when there is so much going on around you, but these ideas will have you feeling sharp and ready to go.

A woman with her head in her hands sitting in front of a computer with the words How To Stay Focused When Your Brain Won't Allow It

How To Stay Focused 

With so much going on around us, it can be very difficult to stay focused when you know that you have to get things done. Whether you are losing track during study sessions with friends or drawing a blank at work, it can be incredibly frustrating when your brain won’t respond the way you want it to. 

That said, there are ways that you can help yourself regain focus and accomplish your goals. With just a little effort on your part, you should be able to shake things up just enough so that you feel sharper and ready to get down to business. 

1. Work In Short Spurts And Take Frequent Breaks

When trying to complete important tasks, the weight of how much (and how little) time seems to be in front of you is enough to form a glaze over your eyes. One of the most effective ways of helping yourself get over that hurdle is by setting time limits. 

Schedule yourself short breaks during the day. These should be in addition to any break you take for lunch or the bathroom. These mental health breaks should become regular breaks in your schedule. During this time you can log into your social media accounts, play online games, return personal phone calls or text messages, or anything else that both brings you peace and distraction.

One of the best ways that you can maintain a decent attention span and bolster your time management skills is to build in some time to relax your concentration. It doesn’t have to be much time – a 5-minute break can be enough according to the Pomodoro technique. Make a plan, work for 25 minutes, and then rest for 5. Wash, rinse, and repeat in order to maintain your energy levels throughout the day. 

2. Split Up Your Tasks

Depending on what type of work you do for a living or what type of important things you are looking to complete, you can be much more successful at retaining your full attention if you break a large project into smaller tasks. 

The easiest way to do this is to look at the whole of the project and figure out how to complete tasks one by one. If you are looking to clean the house, seeing it as one single task can be overwhelming. Breaking it down by bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchen, and living room is a great way to retain your focus. 

At the end of the day, your important projects need to be completed, but assigning yourself specific tasks can help you manage better. Sometimes being a successful person just means knowing how to think outside of the box. If you can complete one major assignment today, knowing that you’ve delegated other tasks to yourself the next day, you’ll eventually get everything done. 

3. Monitor How Much Sleep You Are Getting

When you find yourself struggling with brain fog, the first thing you should make sure of is that you are getting enough sleep. You can’t expect yourself to have a healthy memory capacity if you aren’t charging your body correctly, so make sure that you are getting the hours of sleep that your body requires.  

Lack of sleep can lead to a lack of focus, increased depression and anxiety, and increased physical issues such as diabetes and high blood pressure. It can feel like life’s biggest challenge, trying to create enough hours to get a good night’s sleep, but the consequences of not doing so can have a serious negative impact on your life and your cognitive function. 

Do your best to get the rest you need on a regular basis in order to take advantage of your full potential and put yourself on the path to long term success.

4. Make Sure That You’ve Eaten

When was the last time you ate something? Every vehicle needs fuel so that it can perform, and the same goes for your body and mind. One of the main reasons that you may be dealing with a loss of focus is because it’s been a long time since you’ve eaten – or eaten anything good for you. 

Surviving on fast food or junk food and expecting yourself to function at full capacity for a long time is not going to work. The good news is that it is never too late to start putting gas in the tank. 

Keep some healthy foods in your drawers at work or in your locker. Things that you can grab quickly will work best, like fresh fruit, fresh veggies, or nuts. These snacks should help give your brain a pick-me-up when you find yourself in a slump. 

5. Put Away Your Phone

In this digital age, it all comes back to our cell phones. Our alarm clocks, our music, and our communications are all connected to a mobile phone or an electronic device. It is the world we live in. 

That said, one of the best things that you can do for yourself when you are trying to focus is to turn off your phone. Put it in another room or in a bag so that you can’t easily reach for it out of habit. This is one of the simple steps that you can take to help yourself concentrate. You know your phone is a distraction, so do yourself a favor and unplug for a little while. 

6. Create A Healthy Work Environment

If the environment that you are working in isn’t working for you, it can be extremely difficult to focus. Try to get a better understanding of your learning style and what specifically helps you so that you can get rid of the background noise and accomplish whatever goal you’re working towards. 

Depending on your job, different things will work for different people. If you are in a work area with other people, but you focus best with music playing, see if earbuds are allowed. For some people, finding a quiet place to work or using white noise is the key to professional success and for others, working in their car on a laptop in the parking lot is the only way to resolve the constant distractions.

Some very simple things could make all the difference, so learn what works best for you. 

7. Designate Specific Work Hours

If you are someone who works from home, work hours can be extremely wishy washy. It may feel like you are always at work – and always should be available to work – because you have easy access. 

Pick a set time for working hours and stick to that work schedule. Whether it is standard business hours or overnight working for night owls, pick the right time for your ability to be productive and something that works for your job. 

During that specific time, you are at work and available, but after that, it is time to do something else. If you never give yourself “time off,” you will burn yourself out faster than you could have imagined. 

8. Have An Accountability Partner

For most people, having consequences for their actions will drive them to get things done. If your focus issues lead you to lag on regularly finishing your projects, the first step you need to take is to find an accountability partner. 

This person can be anyone you trust, but it’s often best if they are not part of your immediate household. It’s also a good idea if there is something your accountability partner wants to focus on, so you can be the person to whom they are accountable as well. 

Whether you are an adult who wants to complete some daily tasks or a high school student who needs to learn to study better, knowing that you have to report to someone can be the driving force toward getting things accomplished. 

9. Get Your Body Moving

Sometimes, to get your focus back, you need to shake everything up. You’ve been sitting too long, you didn’t get enough sleep, you can’t get your thoughts in order – it’s time to do a little physical activity. 

While regular exercise is great for your body and an important part of a healthy lifestyle, moving your body in order to refocus your brain can take up much less time. Stand up and walk around the office. If you work from home, do 15 jumping jacks or push ups. 

Providing yourself with a physical change can be just the thing to shake off the cobwebs in your brain and allow you to finish whatever project you’ve started.

10. Have A Little Caffeine

It’s never great to be dependent on any type of chemical or stimulant, but having a reasonable amount of caffeine might give you the lift you need. Due to the extra boost in dopamine, having a cup of coffee or a Diet Coke a few times per day could help you refocus and concentrate for a limited amount of time. 

Caffeine isn’t good for people with certain health issues, so be sure to consult your doctor if you have any concerns. 

11. Reshuffle The Deck

At the end of the day, the thing you are trying to focus on – can it be repurposed until tomorrow? What will your brain allow you to accomplish right now, as it is? 

Sometimes, the best way to focus your brain is to allow it to focus on something else. Today may not be the day for the specific project you’re working on, so if you can do tomorrow’s studying today and get back to this tomorrow, that may be your best bet. 

When you find that your mind is off in all kinds of different directions, there are things that you can do to get refocused. With just a little bit of patience and persistence, you’ll get yourself moving in the right direction in no time. 

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