Updated: Aug 22
Have you ever had a brain fog? Have you ever tried to remember something but couldn’t? Or have you ever tried to stay focused, but your mind wandered?
I don’t know if there is anything more irritating than someone not paying attention. Unfortunately, with all the distractions staying focused is a bit of a challenge, isn’t it?
There are so many things that need to be done and so many things that you want to do in your life that staying concentrated is a must. But what to do if you can’t stay focused? What if you feel overwhelmed with the choices you have?
Keep reading to learn how to stay focused throughout the day so that you get more done and feel accomplished at the end of the day.
Benefits of Staying Focused
It seems obvious why you need to stay focused. You need to streamline your vision to achieve anything, concentrate on the task at hand, and get any traction or progress.
Of course, when you stay focused and get things done, you can feel accomplished. Don’t you feel fantastic when you have done a great job, you moved forward, and your time was well spent?
Yes, on the surface, there are many benefits of staying focused, but I want to dive a little bit deeper. I want you to answer this question: how would your life look like if you stayed focused? What would you be able to achieve in your career, health, relationship, and life? Who would you become? How
would you show up?
You see, staying focused to get things done and tick another box on your to-do list is great. But the magic happens when you focus on the present moment and what matters to you the most.
Reasons You Can’t Stay Focused
If you are anything like me, you multitask all the time. Actually, I am a pro at multitasking. I love to multitask because it gives me the feeling of getting things done in a shorter amount of time. And who wouldn’t want to accomplish more in less time?
Unfortunately, neuroscience teaches us that multitasking kills our focus. The brain uses a lot of energy to process information, and if you jump from one task to another, you lose concentration. You use way too much energy this way.
Think about starting and stopping a car. You burn more petrol, but you don’t go far.
I was very upset when I learned that I am not only less productive, but I use more energy when I multitask. I still multitask (old habits die hard) but I’m more aware of the tasks I simultaneously spend my time on.
If you find yourself responding to emails, scrolling through social media, and trying to have a meaningful conversation with your spouse at the same time, you are going to lose your focus.
Have you ever tried to read or watch something, and the phone was ringing? You couldn’t concentrate on the task at hand. There is no end to distractions in today’s world. Everything and everyone wants our attention.
Distractions are the easiest way to kill our focus. They go hand in hand with multitasking. The constant interruptions make it hard to stay focused and get things done.
But before we start, are you part of my community? Join my newsletter to get the latest action steps on how to eat a healthy plant-based diet, de-stress, manage your time better, prioritize yourself, and anything in between so that you INCREASE your energy, SAVE time, and INVEST well in your wellness!
Daily Habits to Stay Focused
At a first glance, it may seem a bit surprising, but staying focused needs to be a daily habit. As you have just learned the main reasons why you can’t stay focused are multitasking and distractions. Both factors are part of your day.
You may try to overcome multitasking, but you can’t eliminate distractions. You need to learn to manage them. So here are five daily habits you need to incorporate into your day to stay focused:
As much as it may sound boring you need routines if you are to stay focused. And your first one needs to be a morning routine. You should not start a day without looking ahead and planning what needs to happen.
I am a big advocate of morning routines. There is simply no other way to beat the overwhelm, manage stress, and have more time and energy.
I always start my morning by drinking water, moving my body, and reviewing my goals. I want to know what I need to focus on today and what my priorities are. And how my today’s tasks tie to a goal I want to achieve.
It does not need to be work-related. Think about your health and wellness goals. Do you want to eat healthier? What can you do today to make it happen? How can you prioritize it so it will happen?
Or perhaps you want to keep up with your workout routine. How can you keep this at the top of your mind?
Routines are not only great for conserving energy, but they are an excellent stress management technique. A routine, aka habit, is a learned set of activities that you do automatically. Your brain doesn’t use any energy for thinking or decision-making process.
It means there is more energy for your creativity, resourcefulness, and brainstorming. You come up with better solutions or new ideas and get more done. But most importantly, you stay focused on what matters to you most.
You may also want to develop an evening routine to keep your mental energy high. This will not only help you to close the day but will prepare you for the next day.
#2 Set Prioritise
I know you are a high achiever, and you want to get everything done. Me too! But the only way to stay focused and get things done is if you carefully select what needs to be done.
Yes, in a way, I am talking about the infamous to-do list. To-do lists have a bad rap because they don’t work most of the time. In my case, it is a never-ending list of tasks, in double digits, to complete.
A to-do list may be more of a focus killer than a helper. If you look at your to-do list and haven’t accomplished even half of the tasks, you feel depleted. Your motivation goes down, and why wouldn’t it?
There isn’t anything more demotivating than seeing a list of unfinished tasks. It is impossible to stay focused if you are not motivated.
You must set priorities for the day.
Prioritizing is an art in itself, to make it simple, pick no more than 3 priorities for the day. These need to be tasks that are important and fit within your overall plan.
It doesn’t mean you won’t do anything else. Most likely you will, but you streamline your focus on what needs to happen no matter what. Also, when you have clear priorities you know where your focus needs to go.
#3 The Power of One
Do you know Parkinson’s Law? It says that work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion. Understand that it is not how much time you need to complete a task that matters but the time you allocate to get it done.
Do you remember when you were a student? You had months and months to write up that paper, yet you waited until the last minute to do it. Did it mean you needed all this time to complete it? No.
You got it done in the time you allocated for it.
This is a powerful technique not only to stay focused but to be productive. Pick one task at a time, allocate a time block, and jump into it. You will notice you get more things done, maintain a high level of concentration, and get better results.
When all your focus goes on one thing at a time you stop multitasking. You also cut all other distractions.
How to do it efficiently? I use a planner. But you can use any form of calendar. Look at your day ahead and block any chunks of time for specific tasks. I block time not only for my work-related tasks but I block my calendar for exercising, reading, cooking, or eating healthy.
I understand this may seem a bit daunting or rigid, but don’t be fooled. If you don’t take control of where your focus goes, you won’t stay focused.
I always feel motivated in the morning and evening. What’s more, I have plenty of energy in the morning and mid-morning and even in the evening. And when you have high mental and physical energy, you stay focused.
However middle of the day has proven to be harder for me to stay concentrated. It is much easier to reach for my phone and scroll on social media. Or look for another way of distraction. Have you ever noticed how you look for something to eat even when you don’t feel hungry?
You know now that distraction kills your focus. So does inactivity. We get mentally stimulated all day long (and often for large parts of the night), but our bodies take the hit.
When you feel tired, dehydrated, stressed, or simply bored, your focus plummets. This is even more true if you sit the whole day or have a sedentary lifestyle.
To reignite your focus you need to change your physiology. And the easiest way to do it is by movement!
Don’t worry, I’m not talking about adding workout sessions into your day (although you can if it works for you!). I’m talking about taking an intentional break to stretch your body. Brendon Burchard in his book High Performance Habits states that based on recent data we need to move our bodies every 50 minutes.
So what I like to do is to set my alarm clock every hour or so, and move my body every time the alarm rings. It is a bit of a challenge, to begin with, but the more often you do it, the quicker you see the results.
Remember when your biochemistry changes, you stay focused.
#5 Stress Breaks
I already mentioned how our brain gets overloaded with the information it needs to process. Taking another lesson from neuroscience, our brain is like a computer. It needs to recognise, catalogue, and use the data we put in in a way that is usable for the future.
Unfortunately, our brain is not as powerful or sophisticated as a computer. It simply overheats too quickly. You need to let it cool down and reset. The same way you let your electronics recover.
You need a stress break.
Have you heard of brain fatigue? Brain fatigue happens when you are working on something, but your mind wanders. You may even look for a distraction or catch yourself procrastinating.
Don’t worry, there is nothing wrong with you. It only means your brain is taking a well-deserved break. It is important to let your brain take this break because you won’t be able to stay focused without it.
Not that long ago, scientists said a stress break occurs every 90 minutes. However, I suspect it is happening more often than that. If you find yourself losing concentration stretch your body (look at
#4), go for a short walk, get some water, and do a round of breathing exercises.
You will notice a difference. When you come back from your stress break, you will feel relaxed, calmer, more productive and creative, your focus will sharpen, and you will accomplish more.
If you feel on the edge about stress breaks, let me tell you a secret. Your brain goes on a stress break regardless of your input. If you don’t take it consciously, your brain will do it for you. It is a way to preserve energy and be functional.
How to Stay Focused Throughout the Day
Many distractions are competing for your attention. But staying focused throughout the day is easier than you think.
You need to have a few routines in place to set your priorities and intentionally decide where your energy should go. Remember Parkinson’s Law. You want to block time for tasks to minimize multitasking.
Your body and brain need breaks too, so move your body, do some breathing exercises, and simply take a stress break to regain your focus.
Now, tell me how would your life look like if you stayed focused?
Join my newsletter to get the latest action steps on how to eat a healthy plant-based diet, de-stress, manage your time better, prioritize yourself, and anything in between so that you INCREASE your energy, SAVE time, and INVEST well in your wellness!