You’re sitting in your desk chair staring blankly at your computer screen. You have emails streaming in, but you can’t focus. Your mind wanders as you attempt to form a coherent response to a single message.
It’s no use — you give up and take a coffee break. Everyone has been here, but it’s not the only option.
A wayward thought here and there obviously doesn’t mean you throw in the towel for the day. When you can’t focus, there are some simple steps you can take to quiet your mind and get back to business without losing much steam. Here are just a few of your options.
1. Breathe Deep
The inability to quiet your inner monologue is a major reason it tends to wander. If you take a step back and work on calming your mind, especially on a regular basis, the instances in which you can’t focus will slowly start to decrease.
Practice mindfulness in the form of meditation. Even if you only have a few minutes to try a simple breathing exercise — such as alternate breathing through either nostril — it might make a big difference.
2. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
When your focus dissipates and you’re tempted to take a coffee break, reach for water instead. You may think that a jolt of caffeine will help you focus, but in fact, it could cause your mind to race.
Grabbing a glass of water will give you a moment to re-center and also help you stay hydrated, which may boost your focus all on its own.
3. Mentally Sprint It Out
If you look at your eight-hour workday as a single unit to conquer, it’s going to seem nearly impossible. But if you just take the day a few minutes at a time, it makes it much easier to reach your goals.
So start your day with a sprint — don’t look at it as a marathon. Try to focus without checking social media for five minutes at a time, and you may be surprised by how much you accomplish in the next hour.
4. Embrace the Type A
If you find yourself constantly trying to fight your Type A tendencies, don’t. Give into them. Start making lists so that you can prioritize what’s really important and what can wait until tomorrow.
Seeing a visual rundown of what you have to do can help you take your day one task at a time instead of diving into several different challenges all at once.
5. Find Your Inspiration
The place that you lose focus is most likely your work — but remember, there’s a reason you went into your field in the first place.
Did you launch your own business to pursue a passion? Were you interested in your job because you knew you’d get the chance to help people? Did you accept your last promotion to tackle a new challenge?
Stop and remind yourself what inspired you to end up where you are at this moment, and you should have an easier time zoning in on the task at hand.
6. Take the Challenge
If you feel like you need some help regaining your focus, then get it in the form of the Mental Focus Challenge. Over the course of two weeks, you’ll practice different techniques for increased focus each day until you find ones that work for you and master the art of staying on task. When you require some extra motivation, accountability like this can help.
Now that you have a handful of ways to fight off distractions, you have no excuse for losing your focus. The next time something threatens to tear you away from what you’re working on, simply step back and practice one of these methods. You’ll end up not only more focused but also more engaged in your work overall.
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