The pandemic has definitely turned the workforce upside down. But now that more information is being discovered, businesses are opening their doors once again.
You’ve officially moved back into your office space. Once everything is arranged how you like it, you sit down in front of your computer and look around.
Tasks are laid out, and the agenda has been set for the week. You have your to-do list, and you get started. Before long, though, you began thinking about what you might like for lunch. Or that fight you had with your significant other over the weekend.
Next thing you know, an hour has passed. Yikes! You get back at it, but before you know it you’ve returned to daydreaming again.
Why Do You Lose Focus?
Believe it or not, losing your focus is completely normal. According to Alina Vrabie (1), it’s actually part of an internal preservation system. We lose focus when we notice things that might seem dangerous on one end, or rewarding the other.
Daydreaming has some benefits. It can help relieve stress if you imagine you’re someplace pleasant. It can also help you sort out situations in your head, or plan for the future. Unfortunately, it can also wreak havoc on your productivity.
It doesn’t help that modern-day life has endless distractions. Phones, podcasts, the radio…even white noise can disrupt your work performance.
How can you stay focused on the tasks at hand? With the help of some natural herbs, as well as a few mindset adjustment techniques, you’ll be well on your way to restoring your focus and conquering the day.
Let’s start with the mindset techniques.
Catch Yourself Wandering
We all do it, so there’s no shame in the mind-wandering game. Even the most successful people in the world catch themselves off in la-la-land occasionally. What sets the successful apart from the unsuccessful is knowing how to reign those thoughts back in (or put them on hold) so you can complete the task at hand.
They say admitting you have a problem is the first step in fixing it, and losing focus is no different. Catching yourself will give you the power to get back on track before your boss or co-worker catches you… because those moments can get awkward, quick.
Jot It Down
If you’re anything like me, if something isn’t written down it will soon be lost be forgotten. It can be tempting to address every little thought and question that pops into your head, but the truth is this is a recipe for hours of wasted time.
If you’re losing focus because thoughts keep popping up, keep a notepad nearby and write that thought down. That way, you can turn your attention back to your tasks without worrying about the idea being lost.
Do you find that you’re the most productive in the morning, or in the afternoon? Practicing a little self-awareness can help you prioritize tasks. This streamlines your efforts and makes you more efficient as you tackle certain projects at certain times.
For instance, if you feel the most alert and focused in the morning, try tackling the hardest projects first. Then as the day drags on and your focus goes downhill, you can turn to the easiest tasks that don’t require as much concentration.
On the flip side, if you struggle to “get in the zone” first thing in the morning, switch it around. Do the easy tasks first, that way you don’t have to worry about them when it’s time to tacking the hard ones.
Be Your Own Drill Sergeant
New habits can be hard to establish but are well worth the effort if you keep losing your focus. Think of a motivating statement, such as “Just finish this one thing…” or “this task deserves my undivided attention” which can help you stay focused, one task at a time.
Say it out loud every time you catch yourself losing focus. It might feel silly at first, but if you have to verbally remind yourself 20x a day, then do it! Over time, you will find you won’t have to tell yourself to stay focused as often. This is part of the process of training your brain to focus.
Take a Break
This may sound counterintuitive, but if you feel stuck on a project or can’t seem to move forward with an assignment, take a short break. Walk over to the water fountain, or practice some deep breathing techniques (2).
If you can’t leave your desk for whatever reason, try looking away from the screen for about 30 seconds. Even if it’s staring at the ceiling, the short break can help reset your mind to finish what needs to be done. *This also helps if constant blue light exposure hurts your eyes.*
Work toward a Tangible Goal
Training your brain to focus may sound impossible, but if broken down into short, achievable goals, you can totally do it.
How? With a little positive reinforcement, in the form of a reward.
For example, if you get distracted easily by your phone, social media, or other internet browsing, set a timer for 2 hours (3). Tell yourself that you will focus on the task at hand until the timer goes off. After 2 hours, treat yourself to a 5-10 minute social media scroll or a quick web surf.
Tip: If 2 hours seems like an eternity, start with 1 hour. Start small, and work your way up.
Now that we’ve covered some of the mental aspects of losing your focus, let’s take a look into the physical aspect. A lack of vital nutrients, as well as an inconsistent (or nonexistent) exercise regimen, can cause stagnation to build up. This can create disruptions or even blockage of certain functions, like being able to focus and concentrate.
Stretch It Out
We as a population are a lot more sedentary these days. Focusing on the screen for extended periods of time can create stiff neck, shoulder, and back muscles. If you’re having a hard time focusing, get your blood flowing with some simple stretches, like the ones Pilates instructor Katie Couric (4) suggests:
- Take an inventory of how your body feels – are you slouched over? Tense? Sit up straight and breathe in. Does your chest expand, or your belly?
- Stretch your arms overhead, grab your wrists, and gently pull – take turns with each wrist, opening up your chest and allowing for extra airflow.
- Give your wrists, fingers, and forearms attention – you know the classic look when you interlace your fingers, palms out, and stretch your arms away from you? This simple move does wonder for all involved muscle groups.
- Gently twist in a seated position – sitting in your chair, place your left hand on your right knee. Use your other hand to grab the back of the chair. Gently twist until you’re looking over your shoulder. Hold for 2-3 slow breaths. This feels great on your middle back!
No holistic approach is complete without suggesting the use of powerful herbs. The bioactive compounds (5) found in herbs can help natural chemical processes happen more efficiently. Some of the best for boosting brain power include:
- Green tea/Matcha
- Rhodiola Rosea
- Gotu Kola
- Maca root
- Ginkgo Biloba
Losing your focus can be frustrating, especially when you have deadlines to meet! In a world of constant stimulation, it can seem impossible to stay on task.
Taking small steps can make a big difference. Taking a holistic approach to improving concentration means addressing both physical and mental areas. Mindset techniques can include things like eliminating distractions, catching yourself wandering off, taking a break, prioritizing your tasks, and rewarding yourself. Physical ways to improve include getting exercise, and adding a special selection of herbs into your diet.
All these can help you feel more laser-focused as you go about your day. Next time you’re having a hard time getting things done, try these methods out!
References & Disclaimers
✝✝This noted statement is based on independent research and is not necessarily the opinion of the author