It can be challenging to concentrate on one thing for more than a few minutes in the era of social media (for some of us, that may even be seconds.) Think about how quickly you scroll through TikTok or refresh your Instagram feed.
Scary, I know. This lack of focus can permeate other aspects of our lives, such as important work meetings, daily conversations, and everyday tasks.
Even if you aren’t aware that you are losing concentration, you may have missed crucial messages or notes by the time you are. If that sounds familiar, there is still some hope.
While a focus supplement may be helpful, it’s not the only option. You can use the advice we’ve gathered from a few therapists to help you focus better every day.
Read on to learn how to focus better with a little bit of practice and consistency, from putting your phone away to making the ultimate to-do list.
1. PLAN YOUR BREAKS
Setting up breaks is crucial when trying to accomplish anything, but it can greatly impact overall focus.
According to Lauren Melzer, Ed.D. CHES, “When we’re trying to focus but are prone to distractions, knowing you have a planned break to give in to those distractions can be very helpful.” “Reward yourself with it rather than trying to avoid it completely.
For instance, you would have 15 minutes to relax or engage in other activities for every hour fully focused on your work.”
2. DON’T MULTITASK
While multitasking may make you feel more productive, it actually makes it harder to focus. “Few people, if any, can work on multiple projects simultaneously.
We are dividing our attention between various things, “says Hold The Vision Therapy’s founder and LMFT Rachel Miller. “Try time blocking instead.
When you decide to work on a particular task, schedule specific times or blocks of time, and stick with it until your scheduled break or the appropriate time to move on to something else.”
3. PUT AWAY DISTRACTIONS
Even though it’s difficult to do, it will help you focus more effectively than anything else if you persist.
As much as we like to believe that we are excellent multitaskers, we can find a lot of relief if we allow ourselves to focus on fewer things at once and be present with what is in front of us, according to Madeline Lucas, LCSW, a therapist and clinical content manager at Real.
“What do you require in your environment to stay in the present? You could light a candle, put your phone on “Do Not Disturb,” or put some relaxing music on.”
4. PRACTICE MINDFULNESS
You’ve probably heard of mindfulness, but how frequently do you try to tune in to who you are and what is happening right now? Although it might be challenging, the outcome might be worthwhile, particularly regarding sharpening focus. “It takes time to develop mindfulness.
I advise being observant of your attention lapses without passing judgment. You can develop your capacity to notice, identify, and refocus on the task at hand with practice, “claims Lucas.
5. GROUND YOURSELF
According to research, taking even very brief breaks can help you regain concentration, according to Lucas. Miller advises using your senses to help you feel grounded. She explains that using a sensory grounding stimulus like taste, smell, or sound can help you stay in the present.
Citrus smells and tastes are especially energizing, but for some people, a cold glass of water or a quick crunchy snack will do just as well.
6. REPEAT THINGS BACK
There’s a reason why your waiter might have asked you to repeat your order before they placed it. According to Alexandra Gil, PsyD, NCSP, repeating things back can aid in improving focus.
If someone asked you to go get groceries and bring carrots, potatoes, and napkins, you would respond, “Alright, so I’m getting carrots, potatoes, and napkins, right?”
7. GET A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP
“Sleep is very important for helping us focus as our brain needs rest in order to perform better,” says Gil. “Researchers have actually found a positive correlation between less sleep leading to decreased concentration and focus.”
8. USE WHITE NOISE
Depending on the individual, white noise may be preferable to complete silence when trying to concentrate. As much as some might assert that a noisy environment makes it harder for some people to concentrate, Gil asserts that some people may also have trouble concentrating in an environment that is too quiet.
“This does not imply, however, that if a person prefers noisy environments, they should play their favourite song or go there. White noise, on the other hand, has been connected to a better capacity for concentration.”
9. GO TO THERAPY
Occasionally, mental health conditions like depression and anxiety can make it more difficult to concentrate. Attending therapy is one way to work on that and create healthy coping mechanisms.
Focus and concentration would be improved by seeking therapy to lessen those symptoms, claims Gil.
10. DON’T LOOK AT YOUR PHONE IN THE MORNING
Even though it might be hard to resist the urge in the morning, try not to check your phone. Dopamine, the feel-good chemical we experience when something is novel or exciting, is released when we check news notifications, texts, social media, or email, according to Kate Nichols, LCSW, a psychotherapist who works virtually with creatives in New Jersey.
Our brain keeps craving that dopamine, which causes us to go on a daily “dopamine chase.” This is the source of the urge to mindlessly check your phone without even realizing it, which can seriously disrupt your ability to concentrate.
11. CREATE A HIERARCHICAL TO-DO LIST
According to Laura Sgro, LCSW, who specializes in inclusive and compassionate wellness, by categorizing tasks into red (top priority—must be completed), yellow (medium priority—ideally can be completed), and green (low priority—okay it’s if it’s not completed right now), you can stay focused on the most urgent tasks without being distracted by the other items on your list.
12. MOVE YOUR BODY
It’s time to stand up and move around. It not only increases blood flow but also has the potential to sharpen focus. Jumping jacks, a quick jog up and down a flight of stairs, or a good stretch can all help you get rid of some of your excess energy and help you refocus on the task at hand, according to Miller.