11 tips on how to stay focused in a hectic world

how to stay focused

Are you struggling to stay focused and you feel that your performance at work has to suffer because of it? In this blog post, we will give you advice on how to stay focused at work, during training or while reading.

How to stay focused in a hectic world?

By improving your ability to concentrate, you will have better results at school/work and you will be able to organize yourself better, both in your free time and in your professional life. If you want to improve this skill, you must prepare in advance.

To help you, we wrote 11 tricks on how to stay focused in a hectic world. Let’s jump straight to it. 

#1. Don’t sabotage yourself with a careless lifestyle. One of the reasons it’s more important to control your energy than time is that you can’t concentrate at full capacity when you’re tired. Therefore, it is essential to get enough sleep, eat healthily and exercise regularly.

For example, if you frequently eat products with a high glycemic index – such as sweets and white bread, you can stop reading here, because you already found your problem – the lack of energy. How to stay focused? Start by taking care of your body.

11 tips on how to stay focused in a hectic world

Excessive eating makes digestion difficult, causes a feeling of discomfort and drowsiness, so try not to overdo it in the first place.

Additionally, if you want to stimulate your ability to concentrate, be sure to include in the daily diet foods rich in iron, an essential mineral that contributes to the formation of red blood cells and the transmission of nerve impulses while providing energy to the body. Foods that contain iron include whole grains, beef liver, spinach, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, broccoli, oysters and dark chocolate.

#2. Set your priorities. Concentration involves the deliberate allocation of time, attention and energy to a limited number of projects.

To avoid wasting mental resources, you need to differentiate between important and urgent tasks and keep a list of things that should not be done.

Before you get to work, strategically evaluate your responsibilities and make an attack plan so that you don’t have to juggle all kinds of activities throughout the day.

Sure you have a lot to do, sure you want to do it all, but let’s be a little realistic! The day has 24 hours and sometimes it’s not so easy to tick everything you want.

It is good to list those things that are absolutely necessary to do and start doing them before you get distracted by small things. Of course, the little things have to be done also, but the really important tasks deserve all your focus.

11 tips on how to stay focused in a hectic world

#3. Eliminate things that distract you. Neuro-researcher Adam Gazzaley and psychologist Larry Rosen have shown that attention has two components: the ability to focus on the things that matter and the ability to ignore the things that don’t matter.

The safest way to mix the two categories is to deactivate notifications associated with email, Facebook or WhatsApp accounts. By letting others interrupt you when you try to focus, you get used to a reactive way of working, in which your attention is always at the disposal of others.

Eliminate what might distract you: phone, social networking or news sites, pets, siblings, friends. When you start something that requires you to focus, make sure that you stay away from anything that could take you out of your rhythm. If it is difficult for you to refrain from entering various sites that distract you, you can try to disconnect from the internet for a while, so that you can keep the temptation away.

#4. Make time for deep work. Email meetings and conversations give us the impression that we are productive, but usually difficult problems are solved during uninterrupted sessions of intense concentration.

In his book on deep work, Professor Cal Newport notes that people who work at a high intellectual level, schedule two to three hours a day to lock themselves in the office, disconnect from the Internet, and push their minds to the limit of cognitive abilities.

11 tips on how to stay focused in a hectic world

#5. Face boredom and resist the urge to “procrastinate.” The ability to focus is like a mental muscle, which atrophies or becomes stronger, depending on how it is used.

The more you deceive yourself that you are good at multitasking, the harder it will be for you to concentrate for an hour without interruptions. The only solution is to accept the inherent discomfort when you face a difficult problem.

Don’t try to do more than one thing at a time: although many believe it’s an effective way to get more things done, you’re actually just putting your ability to focus at stake. This way it takes you even longer to do what you set out to do.

#6. Take regular breaks. Most people can’t focus for more than 90 minutes. When we take a break, the brain enters a mode of functioning that psychologists call “diffuse.”

These periods of relaxation of the brain facilitate creative thinking and allow us to find unconventional solutions. That’s why the best ideas come to us in the shower or during a walk.

No matter how dedicated you are, you will still get tired at some point. And instead of forcing yourself and getting angry, which leads to loss of concentration, better take a break, change the landscape for a few minutes/hours and then come back with fresh strength.

11 tips on how to stay focused in a hectic world

#7. Take your dose of caffeine. According to studies, caffeine significantly improves mental performance, having positive effects on perseverance and concentration.

If you ask me, tea helps you focus better than coffee, whose effect is intense and short-lived.

#8. Make a focus ritual. Get your body used to a certain rhythm. Identify the times of the day when you can focus best and try to use them to your advantage. Do a little ritual to anticipate the moments when you need to focus (listen to soothing music, look at pictures with nature landscapes or do some exercise). By forming a habit, your mind will be more focused each time you begin this ritual.

#9. Anticipate the things you will need. Get enough sleep, hydrate yourself, make sure you won’t get hungry for the next period and prepare all the materials you will need. 

It is important to have everything at hand so that you do not have to interrupt your activity and lose your focus due to details such as – you are hungry, you realize that you need a new pen, you can not focus if there is no order on your desk, etc.

#10. Set a reward system. Motivation is very important when it comes to the desire to exercise your power of concentration. Establish a system to get something you want. If you like online games, promise yourself a game session, after you do what you have to do.

#11. Calm your own mind. If you have a lot of things on your mind, things that “run” through your head and prevent you from focusing, take a break. On the principle, “long and frequent breaks, the key to great success.”  Yes, just like that, because the first condition to be productive is to be able to focus on what you have to do.

Take a few moments to breathe, gather your thoughts and, when you feel you have a clear mind, get to work!

By doing these things you will notice improvements in your ability to focus after a few days or weeks. It is a long process that you must learn to master, but once you have managed to do this you will start to feel great and your performance will improve dramatically.

11 tips on how to stay focused in a hectic world

How to stay focused when reading

A true reader will always choose books instead of any other activity, but sometimes, no matter how interesting a story may be, one still may face focusing problems. For such cases, there are simple tricks that will help you get back to your favourite activity.

1. Turn off all notifications  on your smartphone

Social networks are part of our lives, so it can be hard to stay away from them. No matter how interesting a book is, you will surely feel the need to check your phone every time you receive a notification. Even the slightest interruption makes you deviate from reading or not assimilating the information as it should, so stop all notifications when you want to read and you will see that it will be easier for you to reach the last page.

2. Make things as interesting as possible

Surely you had to read, at one point, something interesting, but written in a boring way. If, however, you want to document yourself on a certain topic, do not waste time reading a text without salt and pepper, but choose other methods of information. Search for documentaries on the same topic, movies or articles online and use the time you earn to read books that keep you from abandoning them.

11 tips on how to stay focused in a hectic world

3. Make a corner for reading

If you want to focus only on reading, the first step is to create the right environment for it. That means staying in a tidy, quiet place that doesn’t remind you of other things you need to do. In order to focus better when reading, it is important to avoid noise.

The position you have while reading is also important. Hunger, thirst, excitement or excessive heat can also make you deviate from the story, so make sure all your needs are met before you start a book.

4. Try to clear your mind for a minute

It is no secret that daily meditation has many benefits. If you don’t want to deviate easily from reading, try reading after the following exercise: in a comfortable position, stop thinking about anything and focus only on breathing. Do this for a minute and you will see that it will be much easier for you to understand the information you find in the books.

5. Read at 50-minute intervals

Studies have shown that 50 minutes is the ideal time to focus on a single task. After this period, the brain no longer works as efficiently and needs a break. For 10 minutes, do something relaxing, have a cup of tea, check your phone, have a snack, then resume your initial activity. Using this cycle, you will remember the story much easier and you will make a work rhythm that will help you in other activities.

11 tips on how to stay focused in a hectic world

6. Set a goal

Before you start reading, set a goal. Maybe you have a reading list that you want to finish in a certain time frame or you just want to discuss a book with your friends, for whatever reason, it will help you focus better while reading and get to the last page.

7. Read reviews

A true reader is in the habit of finishing a book once he starts it, so make sure you don’t invest time in boring stories. You can do this by reading reviews of books on your reading list and removing titles that don’t interest you.

8. Make it a game

If you don’t want to lose focus while reading, try to finish a page in a few seconds or a chapter in a few minutes. You will feel that reading is a game and it will be easier for you to get involved, especially if what you read is not so interesting.

Reading should always be a beautiful experience, and if you apply these tricks, you will see that you will increase your concentration and retain the information more easily.

11 tips on how to stay focused in a hectic world

Conclusions

In this blog post, we gave you advice on how to stay focused at work, during training or while reading.

By improving your ability to concentrate, you will have better results at school/work and you will be able to organize yourself better, both in your free time and in your professional life. If you want to improve this skill, you must prepare in advance.

Please feel free to leave any comments or questions on the content. Or if you have any great tips on how to stay focused to share with the other readers that’s even better!

FAQ on How to stay focused

How can I train myself to stay focused?

You can train yourself to stay focused by making a plan, by setting your priorities and building your willpower and discipline. To avoid wasting mental resources, you need to differentiate between important and urgent tasks and keep a list of things that should not be done.

How do I improve my concentration and focus?

To improve your concentration and focus it is essential to get enough sleep, eat healthily and exercise regularly. Once you have that covered, make sure you have your priorities and goals set, take short breaks and stop multitasking.

How do you help someone stay focused?

If you want to help someone to stay focused, the best thing you can do is give them time and space. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on them, remind them to take short breaks and what their goal is.

Why can I not concentrate?

There are many reasons why you can not concentrate. Among them can be the lack of a purpose, too many distractions, low energy, or even mental disorders. IT is best to get assessed by a healthcare professional to get a proper diagnostic. 

How do you focus on one thought at a time?

To focus on one thought at a time you first need to learn how to calm your mind. Yes, just like that, because the first condition to be productive is to be able to focus on what you have to do.

Take a few moments to breathe, gather your thoughts and, when you feel you have a clear mind, get to work!

Further reading

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, by Cal Newport

10-Minute Focus: 25 Habits for Mastering Your Concentration and Eliminating Distractions, by Daniel Walter 

Limitless: Upgrade Your Brain, Learn Anything Faster, and Unlock Your Exceptional, by Jim Kwik  

Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, by Daniel Goleman 

Master Your Focus: A Practical Guide to Stop Chasing the Next Thing and Focus on What Matters Until It’s Done, by Thibaut Meurisse 

References

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, by Cal Newport

Alifeofproductivity.com website

11 tips on how to stay focused in a hectic world

Nadejda Romanciuc

Nadejda Romanciuc holds a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and a diploma in Addiction studies. She is part of the Romanian Association of Integrative Psychotherapy as a psychotherapist under supervision. She's practicing online counselling for over two years and is a strong advocate for mental health.

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