How’s your focus lately? Do you feel like you can’t stay on track? Are you constantly succumbing to distractions?
If it seems like you’re constantly slipping into daydreams or failing to complete tasks on time, then it might be time to work on your focus. Thankfully, focus is a mental muscle that you can strengthen with practice.
If you’re tired of distractions pulling you away from what’s important, here are five helpful ways to improve your mental focus and find clarity.
Determine your current state of clarity.
Let’s be honest. We all have distractions and secretly like to keep them around. As much as we remark how frustrating they are, it’s nice to have things that keep us from stepping up to the plate and proving our potential.
So what’s your distraction? It’s time to define your excuses and take a good, hard look at your current level of mental focus. Make a list of things that constantly distract you. This could include anything from a crowded inbox to your crowded at-home office with its mini “coworkers” running about.
Keep a journal to identify areas that need improvement before ultimately setting some goals and tracking your progress.
Once you understand your current state of clarity, it will be easier to work on improving your focus.
Eliminate (minimize) distractions.
Whether it’s the constant pings of our phones, notifications from social media, or that one friend who always wants to chat, there will always be things vying for our attention.
While we can’t eliminate all distractions, we can do what’s in our power to focus on what’s important. The goal is to create an environment that is conducive to concentration and eliminates as many distractions as possible.
Start by silencing your phone and putting it away. If you’re working on a project, close all tabs on your computer except the one you’re working on. If you can’t focus well with noise in the background, try noise-canceling headphones or find a quieter place to work.
Can you recall the last time you dedicated your mental energy to a single task or project but found it harder and harder to continue as the clock ticked on?
The human brain can only focus for so long before it fatigues and needs a break. Not only that but working on a task for too long can lead to decreased performance. We may struggle to stay motivated or brainstorm new ideas when this happens.
It’s important to take breaks frequently to avoid this. Get up, walk around, do some stretches, drink water, or do all the above! Giving your brain a break will help you return to the task, feeling refreshed and ready to focus.
Find your ‘why.’
When it comes to focusing, having a clear purpose can make all the difference. When we know why we’re doing something, staying motivated and dedicated to the task is easier.
So, if you’re struggling to focus on a particular task, take a step back and ask yourself why you’re doing it. What is the purpose of the task? How will it help you achieve your goals? Once you have a clear understanding of its importance, it will be easier to stay focused.
Practice being present.
In our fast-paced, stressful world, getting caught up in our thoughts and worrying about the future is easy. Another reason we love our distractions so much is that they help us avoid being present and dealing with what’s right in front of us.
But if we aren’t living in the present, we can’t expect to be able to focus on the task at hand, either. So what can we do to experience more mental clarity overall?
Mindfulness meditation is a type of meditation that you can practice anywhere, anytime. You can practice it by taking deep breaths, focusing on the inhale and exhale as much as possible. Your mind will undoubtedly wonder, and that’s okay. The point of the practice is to take note when it does and turn your focus back to your breath. Like everything else in your constantly-connected life, your thoughts are a distraction. Over time you are sure to see that returning to your important tasks is just as accessible as returning to your breath.
Sometimes, despite our best self-care efforts, anxiety and stress linger. When these conditions become chronic, they can impact your quality of life and overall wellness. If you or someone you love is suffering from ongoing anxiety, stress, trauma, or depression, reach out for support through our telemedicine program.