Do you have a hard time focusing when trying to complete a project – while others around you can spend long periods focused solely on one thing?
If your answer is YES, you’re certainly not the only one. So why is that?
How come some people can focus on a task, and others just can’t seem to be able to control their wandering minds?
Well, some personality types have more trouble staying focused; but there are a variety of other reasons why you may find it difficult to concentrate.
Here are some of the most common causes:
1. Not Getting Enough Sleep.
There’s a reason why so many professionals constantly talk about how important sleep is. Not only does it help your BODY rest and recharge, but your MIND as well.
This means that not getting enough of it can be seriously detrimental to both – although your mind takes the brunt of it. Your focus becomes limited, because your brain is tired and confused. It hasn’t had enough time to prepare for the day, and all of the challenges it brings. All it wants to do is to shut down and recover – even in the middle of important tasks!
Now, you might think that you get enough sleep – yet, you can still find yourself having trouble concentrating. In that case, you may want to check with your doctor whether or not you have a sleep disorder. You see, even if you get the recommended amount of sleep, it might be restless or interrupted.
Deep, restful REM sleep is what you really need, and if you don’t get adequate amounts, you will suffer the consequences. Furthermore, not getting enough sleep can even lead to depression, making it even harder to stay focused.
2. Too Many Distractions.
Most people in today’s age tend to interact with multiple devices at the same – like using their phone and computer while having the TV play in the background. And you can say “that’s just the way of life” – but all it does is split your focus. And this plays into your conversations as well.
When interacting with others – whether virtually or in real life – you think you’re giving your undivided attention, but with the TV creating constant background noise or your phone buzzing every few seconds, there are too many sources of stimulation to focus on at once.
Stop and consider how all of your devices might be hindering your ability to focus. It might be helpful to distance yourself from those devices when you have something urgent that needs your full attention. Removing, or at least limiting, these distractions can be a big help.
3. Not Dealing With Problems.
It’s often said that the person who complains the loudest or the most will get the most attention. When it comes to focus, the ‘complaint’ is a problem that’s not being dealt with.
If the problem is being ignored or goes unchecked, you can find yourself constantly thinking about it and how you need to address it – but you never do anything about it. The key to stopping these problems from continuously popping up in your head is to actually take steps to solve them.
Merely adding something that needs to be dealt with to your ‘to-do-list,’ or making that appointment you’ve been putting off can help soothe the voice in the back of your head. Even if the problem can’t be solved right away, just starting to work on it can clear your mind a bit and recentre your focus.
4. Not Having A Good Plan.
This one goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. When you’re dealing with something, don’t just go at it blindly – have a plan on how you’re going to approach it – it’s far easier and more efficient that way.
Mechanics do the same when checking a car, and so do doctor’s when you visit them with a health issue. It can be something simple – like making a small checklist for going to the store. Or something more comprehensive – like drawing up the blueprints for your next big home improvement project.
Either way, preparation is key – regardless of how you choose to prepare. Going through individual steps and instructions is much easier than trying to take on the entire project all at once.
5. Not Getting Enough Exercise.
Not getting enough rest is a big problem, but so is not getting enough movement. Regular exercise not only keeps you healthy, but it’s a great way to stimulate your body.
Yes, it’s much easier to put exercise off due to a full schedule – too many work hours and not enough free time – but a lack of exercise takes its toll on the body and the mind! Regular exercise promotes brain plasticity, boosts hormones, and reduces stress.
It increases sensitivity to insulin and fights off anxiety and depression. All of these factors can affect your focus and concentration! So even if it’s just taking the stairs instead of the elevator, get some exercise to help your mind and body work more efficiently.
6. Working In A Messy Environment.
If you can work quickly and efficiently in a cluttered workspace, you’re definitely in the minority. Creative types can be productive in chaotic environments, but if that’s not you, you need to create some order in your workspace.
A messy space may not bother you consciously, but it can still affect your subconscious mind. Papers, folders, random knickknacks, and trash all over your desk are all just distractions for your brain – which means you need to get rid of them.
Nobody’s workspace can be absolutely spotless, and you’re free to personalize yours, but give yourself enough clear space to be able to easily focus on a given task.
7. Undiagnosed ADHD.
Do you have trouble listening to people, following instructions, and prioritizing tasks? Are you often irritable, restless, and have a lot of trouble relaxing? Are you late more often than not?
These are possible symptoms of adult ADHD – which means, if they apply to you, you’re going to have a lot more trouble focusing than most people.
If you think you might have adult ADHD, it’s best to talk to your doctor about it. They will point you in the right direction – whether it be prescribing medication, or referring you to a therapist who can provide you with alternative ways to alleviate your symptoms.
8. Working Too Hard.
A lot of people work much more than they should, and their ability to focus is suffering. Stepping away from work every now and then is beneficial for both your mental and physical health.
Working every possible hour you can, is only going to push your focus to deteriorate, and it will lead you to you be less efficient at your job – and any other projects you are working on.
If you want to improve your focus, you need to take breaks. You need to give yourself and your brain some rest.
9. Having An Unhealthy Diet.
Another essential element to a properly functioning body is fuel to keep it going. And like any machine, giving your body the wrong type of fuel will lead to problems. Having an occasional treat is fine, but in order for you to function at maximum efficiency, you must give your body the nutrients it needs.
Forming healthier habits like bringing a water bottle to work, eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, and taking vitamins, will be beneficial in the long run.
You don’t need to go on any extreme diets and become a health freak, but making some lifestyle changes to be healthier will help your body function better, and your mind stay focused.
10. Too Much Stress.
This applies to pretty much everyone – especially in the fast-paced, demanding world we live in. Stress becomes overwhelming, and we all have some sort of anxiety, angst, or worry. But stress is terrible for your mind and body!
Maybe you can’t eliminate the cause of the stress, but finding better ways to cope with it, will help you immensely.
Whether it’s practicing yoga or deep breathing exercises, going for a walk, or taking a nap – there are many simple ways to help reduce the stresses in your life. You’ll be able to breathe easier once you have less stress and anxiety. You’ll be able to focus better and get more done. This will further reduce stress – creating a cycle of healthy behaviors.
Not being able to focus can be extremely frustrating. Maybe you can’t find the motivation or can’t prioritize – either way; usually, there’s an underlying cause. It’s a multilayered problem that, at times, affects everyone.
fortunately, with a better understanding of your biology, behaviors, and a few practical changes, you can tackle the issues affecting your concentration – so you can focus on the things that matter the most.
What do you think?
What’s preventing you from being able to focus?