4 Reasons You Can't Focus on work (and how to overcome them)

Author: David Ancor

David

(5 minutes read)


We all have those days that you just find it impossible to concentrate on your work. You end up staring at your screen or phone and you’re doing everything humanly possible not to get your work done.


Your task list is only growing and your anxiety is starting to creep in.


Being unable to concentrate on your tasks will lead to affecting your grades or performance at work.


Concentration is critical to think through difficult problems but also to recall necessary information.


Anyways, I’m sure you understand the importance of getting stuff done. So let’s get to the list of reasons that might be causing you to have issues with concentration.


Table of Reasons:


  • 1. You’re multitasking
  • 2. You’re too tired
  • 3. Racing and distracting thoughts
  • 4. Lack of Clarity on your tasks

1. You’re multitasking


One reason you are having a hard time staying focused is because you are multitasking. Doing more than one thing at a time is almost always a sure way to do nothing at all while exhausting yourself.


Are you trying to have a texting conversation while listening to music and trying to get your work done? If yes, stop, put your phone away. If you need to listen to music make sure that it’s instrumental - music with words distracts your inner dialogue. Furthermore, multitasking will cause you to spend up to 40% longer on tasks than you would otherwise (1). This is because your brain has to switch back and forth between the objects of your attention.  


Your brain can only think about one thing at a time so make sure that you are doing only one thing at a time.


If you keep getting distracted by social media, YouTube or Reddit - set up BeTimeful and stop getting distracted.


Otherwise you can check out all the other productivity tools that we have outlined here.

2. You’re too tired



Directed Attention Fatigue occurs when your brain is exhausted from maintaining attention for too long. Once your brain is too tired, it becomes very challenging to maintain concentration.


The best thing that you can do is to rest, close your eyes, take a nap, meditate or even stare out of the window for a bit. Looking at nature has been proven to decrease directed attention fatigue. (2)


Another way to ensure that you don’t continuously over tire yourself is to take breaks. A technique that you can use to spread out your focus is called the Pomodoro effect. First, write out exactly what needs to be done and remove all distractions - did we mention install BeTimeful on your browser? ;)


Next, set a timer for 25 minutes and for that duration try to work on one task at a time without diverting your attention elsewhere. Once the 25 minutes are completed take a 5 minute break - let your mind wander while looking outside the window. This will help you stay fresh while accomplishing your tasks.


You can install the Pomodoro timeron your computer so you can easily set a timer.


3. Racing and distracting thoughts


We’ve all been. We have our to-do list ready, we sit down to do the work and our brain is racing at 100 miles per hour. We start reading or working and all of the sudden we’re thinking of a bunch of different things, ‘Did I forget my laundry in the washer?’, ‘Did I reply to my friend’s text?’, etc.

We’ve all been. We have our to-do list ready, we sit down to do the work and our brain is racing at 100 miles per hour. We start reading or working and all of the sudden we’re thinking of a bunch of different things, ‘Did I forget my laundry in the washer?’, ‘Did I reply to my friend’s text?’, etc.


4. Lack of Clarity on your tasks


Lack of focus or concentration is sometimes a sign of disorganization. Having too many conflicting priorities can lead to overwhelm. If you are juggling too many things at once, it’s hard to know what task is a priority. If you keep leaving your work midway through or unfinished, it means you’re getting overwhelmed.


One of the best ways to prevent this from happening is to set time aside for planning. Planning will allow you to think ahead, and plan for all your tasks to get finished - even checking on your friends and laundry. During your planning phase you can brainstorm and think about all the possible action items that you need to get finished.


Block time in your calendar to plan for your week ahead. Also finish your day with noting what you’ve done well, what you could improve on and what are the tasks for tomorrow. This doesn’t have to take long but your subconscious will start working on the next day’s tasks. I have to thank you for Brian Tracy for his instrumental productivity tips.


Conclusion


A scattered brain is completely normal and nothing to be ashamed of. We’ve all been! However, we have to learn to do everything we can to set ourselves up for success. One necessary step is to ensure that we are finishing our tasks and getting our work done. In order to do this, you have to set time aside to be distracted. You also have to set time aside to plan ahead and make sure you know what needs to get done. This will prevent overwhelm and ensure you are being productive!

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