What were you doing when this article caught your eye? Chances are, you had trouble focusing on another project.
Even before COVID-19, focused on a challenge, balancing your work, family and social life. These days, it may seem absolutely impossible.
Don’t give a little bad news – or good fun – to your focus. Here are eight reasons why you may have trouble focusing, each with its own solution to get back on track:
1. Digital Interruption
Now, do some experimenting. Drag on your browser history, hit Ctrl + H, and see where you’ve been all day. Frightening, right?
You jumped in and out of email. You bounced from digital media to digital publishing and back again. Oh, and look at the half-dozen retail sites you scrolled looking for a new pair of shoes. Then, you have your smartphone. Every few seconds, you get a new notification from Twitter, Instagram or CNN. Each time, your eyes go from your computer screen to your phone. You will hate to remember something, right?
The Fix: Schedule Your Day
Even in the midst of a coronovirus pandemic, you can put together a daily schedule. While a little flexibility is important, you should set aside separate blocks of time for tasks that you know you must complete.
Set a time for:
- Reading and answering work emails;
- Make the main road on your top two or three work projects;
- Engage in professional development;
- do the housework;
- Help children with homework;
- And replay that zoom tutorial with your partner.
Between those intervals? They are buffer time. Everyone needs to rest from a good distraction now and then. When you do this, the key is controlling you rather than controlling you.
2. Daydreams and Memories
Remember the little café where your spouse proposed to you 15 years ago? Wouldn’t your dining room look great with similar small tables and metro tiles on the floor?
Everyone sometimes loses themselves in daydreams and memories. Your mind wanders towards the future or the past because it is more enjoyable than a spreadsheet in the places you are struggling to fill. Because of this you have difficulty focusing on what you need to focus on. However, you have an appointment deadline. So, how can you keep yourself focused?
Fix: Stay current
Daydreaming is not necessarily a bad thing. Imagination can provide a spark of creative talent or visualization of what you want in life. You just need to do it when it makes sense, not when you should be focusing on work.
Stay current by placing your daily to-do list on your desk. When your mind starts pounding, pull yourself in front of you that is right in front of you. Before returning your focus to the task at hand, ground yourself by focusing on something real like your breath.
With that said, let your mind wander on this occasion. Allow yourself the luxury of dreaming when it is not pushing you away from something that you need to do.
Nearly everyone has had a headache at some point during their lives. When you may be able to power through a light, a split migraine can destroy any hope you focus on.
Headaches and migraines are caused by a variety of issues, including stress, lack of sleep, diet, eyesight, and medications. Throw a global epidemic on top, and it’s no surprise that your head is pounding.
Fix: Use your head
Like that bottle of hand sanitizer, keep your headache and migraine medications on hand at all times. If pharmacy is a challenge these days, migraine services like Nurks can diagnose you and deliver medicine to your door.
If your headache is not severe, try a drug-free approach. Some people simply get relief from drinking water, applying a cold compress, or inhaling essential oils.
4. Racing Ideas
When is that project due? I’ve got something for Jane’s baby shower. I’m almost out of shampoo. I need those audit figures. What do I do for dinner tonight?
Is that sound familiar? Racing ideas are common, especially among busy people. But they are not conducive to keeping your brain on track and focused.
The Fix: Mediate and Be Mindful
If you like most people, your brain gets lost 47% of the time. Meditation is a great way to clear clutter and focus on the present.
Good news, it’s easy to meditate. Just sit somewhere comfortable, take off your shoes and set a timer for ten minutes. Then, just focus on your breath. Do not try to control it. Just notice your residents and breath. Let thoughts pass unknowingly.
Mindfulness Meditation, described above, is only one of the types. Mantras and movement meditation are also popular. Find out what works for you, and keep those racing ideas at bay.
5. Unreserved Issues and Arguments
Life is messed up. If you’re like me, one of the biggest concentration-killers are unresolved disputes.
You may have had an argument with your partner last night. Perhaps both of you had gone to bed angrily, and it had been bothering you since morning. Or maybe you are fed up with a co-worker who always talks loudly, because they want everyone to hear about their latest date.
Your anger and annoyance will not solve these issues. But they will distract you from your job.
Fix: get off something
Instead of leaving an argument in the air, try to solve it. Stick to talk, keep calm, listen, and bring disagreements to some sort of resolution.
If a colleague does something to annoy you enough to interfere with your ability to concentrate, pull them aside and let them know. Be rational – don’t be angry – and try to understand what might motivate their actions. Otherwise, nothing is going to change, including your concentration issues.
6. Lack of sleep
Poor sleep is not just a health issue. It also hinders your ability to concentrate during waking hours. There are medical reasons for poor sleep, such as diabetes, respiratory problems, heart disease, and neurological disorders. For those people, you need to seek medical treatment.
For most people, poor sleep is the result of worry about finances, children, parents, or perhaps the job change you are considering. You have a lot on your mind, and this makes you trouble focusing.
Tay: have some sweet dreams
Losing something in the form of 16 minutes of sleep can take you away from your game the next day. Sleeping can be as easy as changing your mattress or your pillow, but the big culprit can be your routine. The main stages include:
- Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, including weekends.
- Control your exposure to light at night, including smartphones and computer screens. Use that time to face those weighty things by creating a list of concerns in your mind or updating your to-do list.
- Avoid overwriting. A large meal close to the bed can make you feel bloated and uncomfortable.
- Avoid drinking alcohol or caffeine. Both substances disrupt your natural sleep cycle.
- When you lie down, turn off the light and close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths, and flow in the dream.
7. Lack of exercise
For many people, use the land at the bottom of the to-do list. When they run out of time, they leave it – at the cost of their concentration.
Even moderate, regular physical activity benefits your physical health, improves your sleep, reduces anxiety and increases mental acuity. If you are not making time for exercise during the day, then you are hurting at the ability to concentrate.
Not everyone is an athlete. Not everyone wants to work out under the scrutiny of their fellow gym goers. At the end of the day, what matters is stability. Instead of failing soon to approach the New Year’s resolution to exercise, start with literally small steps, such as walking the dog or taking the stairs.
If it only takes you five minutes to eat that protein bar at your desk, then use your lunch break for a walk. Even if it is around the block, you will feel refreshed back.
If you are bored with a work project, it is easy to fall prey to the smallest distraction. If you are not enjoying what you are doing, you will have trouble focusing on it. If you are bored with life in general, you will find it difficult to concentrate on anything.
Bored leads to a lack of motivation, leading to fatigue, which scrolls through your Facebook feed for hours. Depression and boredom are tightly linked.
Fix: Get a fresh perspective
The epidemic has hit our social lives. Despite the ban on seeing other people and going out in public, you need to find a way to bring “social” back into your life. Work-life balance is important, especially in these circumstances.
Even if you are not comfortable eating at a restaurant or visiting with grandma, there are things you can do. Zoom and FaceTime are good options, but you can also think about having some friends on your backyard while maintaining social distance. Keep it short so that no one has to use your bathroom.
And about that boring work project? Diversify your approach by thinking how it will benefit your customer. Find a way to make it fun, perhaps by discussing it with colleagues who make you laugh.
If all else fails, then just muscle through it. Mark it from your list, and move on to something more attractive.
Before you get distracted and move on
Concentration requires a lot of energy, motivation and focus. So most people have trouble concentrating. When there are all kinds of sounds, lights and people competing for your attention, this combination can be elusive.
Do your best to distract the attention, clear the mind and take care of yourself. When you come to a slot, those work projects will practically test themselves.
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Featured photo credit: Rabie Madaci via unsplash.com