How to Stay Focused: Seven Practical Methods to Improve Focus
If you ever find that you have difficulty focusing on projects or during presentations, you’re not alone.
There are many potential causes behind why we struggle to stay on task and meet our goals and understanding the root cause can make it easier to address our needs and stay focused at work and at school.
Tenzo Tea is here to help. We believe that in addition to great resources and information, you deserve the support of bold and delicious tea that delivers caffeine without the crash, so you can complete your homework, take great notes, and enjoy your next great project.
Here’s what you’ll want to keep in mind about methods for focusing and how to improve yours today:
Why We Struggle to Focus
There are many potential reasons why we struggle to focus, whether you often find yourself drifting off during work or school, or if it’s only on occasion that you struggle to complete your work.
Understanding the foundational reasons for our lack of focus can help us to address them head-on, so we can return to our responsibilities with ease.
Here are a few of the most common reasons focusing is often difficult:
The Work is Challenging
While there are many reasons we may be tempted to put off our work, one of the most common reasons for procrastination may actually come as a surprise—fear of failure. Our concerns and self-doubts can actually keep us from making progress on a project, which can lead to feelings of frustration and further distraction.
Many individuals in all types of industries and art can be faced with insecurity when trying to complete their work or their next assignment. It’s important to find ways to manage the emotions, however, to keep them from interfering with your productivity and causing you to have to scramble down the line.
When dealing with procrastination for challenging work, try to be kind and patient with yourself, since negative feelings contribute to distraction and further our difficulty focusing. Instead, take some time to determine the root cause of your fears. Is it one specific piece of the project? Are these guidelines that you’re uncertain of?
Look for the reasons you may be struggling with the project and begin addressing them intentionally.
It can also be helpful to break the project up into smaller pieces. Not only are smaller pieces more manageable, but we receive positive input from our brains when we complete tasks, which leaves us feeling motivated, productive, and more prepared to face challenges.
There Are Distractions
While some individuals can work very efficiently when there are multiple things holding their attention. The truth is that when we take the time to answer messages, respond to emails, and prepare dinner while we work, it takes our attention and focus away from the task at hand especially when multitasking.
While some tasks can be completed with half an eye on the stove timer, others can require our full attention, and having the television on in the background or you are getting constant phone calls, this can mean that nothing gets truly accomplished.
Interaction with other people, whether via call, email, or message, can also take a lot of our attention and become overwhelming over time, which makes it even more difficult to get back on task.
Putting your cell phone on do not disturb for small chunks of time can help if your work environment isn't demanding. If there is a temptation to check your phone, try setting an alarm for the interval of time you have your phone set on do not disturb, then place your phone out of sight.
It is important to note that there are many different types of learners and workers, and what works well for one person may not be the best fit for someone else. Eliminating distractions completely isn’t always possible, but you may see that popping in your noise-cancelling headphones and turning off your notifications can make all the difference.
You Feel Overwhelmed
Distractions don’t always come from the outside world. It can be incredibly hard to focus if you’re feeling overwhelmed and worrying about all of the tasks at hand, as well.
With the pace of the world today, as well as work and home responsibilities, it’s not uncommon to feel like you might be in over your head.
After all, there are emails that need a response, a grocery order to be placed, birthday cards to be sent, and a mounting pile of work deadlines. Many individuals struggle with accomplishing their goals simply because the goals feel overwhelming.
The best way to manage this feeling is to simply slow down and account for all that you have on your plate. When your thoughts are crowded by the small tasks, even if they’re very simple and easy, it distracts from the bigger things you need to focus on.
Taking a 15-minute break can be one of many good habits to set to help your mind relax before continuing to work. Short breaks can be a bit of a reward after you've been working vigorously.
This is where creating a to-do list can be very helpful. Not only will you get to enjoy the rush of completing a task and marking it off your list, but you’ll also be able to put all of those extra thoughts somewhere.
No responsibility is too small for the to-do list. If it’s distracting you from the task at hand, put it on the list. This will make it easier to think clearly and focus on accomplishing your next project, without worrying about forgetting something important.
You’ve Been Working Too Long
Even the most dedicated employee or student needs to take a break some time. If you find that you’re beginning to lose focus or your work isn’t looking as polished as when you started, that’s a pretty good indication that it’s time for a break.
There are many ways to take breaks from your project, but you want to be sure that your break is productive, in that it will help to get you back on task with a clear, focused mindset.
For shorter breaks, it can be helpful to do deep breathing exercises or even step outside for some fresh air. If you’re taking a longer break, you may want to eat a healthy meal or spend some time away from the office. Various brief breaks can help your workflow if you are not able to take a longer break.
It’s best to avoid breaks that cause you future stress or distract you when the time comes to return to work. Every student and employee will be different, so explore the methods, programs, and apps for work and break management and find the best one for your needs.
You Need Mental or Physical Health Support
Unsurprisingly, we don’t work our best when we’re not feeling our best. If you’re struggling to focus, it may be the result of something as simple as needing a nutritional snack or a drink of water.
The food we eat—or don’t eat—can have an enormous effect on our overall health and wellness, including our ability to focus. Foods that are heavy in sugars and carbs can make us sleepy and distracted.
Whereas foods that are rich in vitamins and nutrients can give us the boost we need to make it through our day. Getting your fair share of protein-rich foods and vegetables can help. If you’re planning to take a break to snack, reach for the healthy food that nourishes the brain as well as the body.
Beyond your physical needs, however, your emotional and mental health needs can also play a very important role in your ability to focus on the task at hand.
Whether we experience issues with mental health regularly or are responding to a temporary situation, they can contribute to feelings of restlessness, distraction, and low interest, even in the things we typically enjoy.
There are many ways to support your mental health, as well as your physical health, and they’re going to vary from person to person. It may be as simple as creating a better stress management system or you may wish to speak with a professional about your needs.
Either way, prioritizing our mental health is key to creating, learning, and growing.
Ways to Focus At Work and at School
These are just a few of the most common reasons why we often struggle to focus on our homework and work, even when we don’t feel like it. But don’t worry. There are many ways to balance and manage our workload so we can keep ourselves happy and healthy and complete the next great project.
Here are just a few:
Get to the Root
Because procrastination often stems from a fear of failing to meet expectations, there’s a good chance that more than just laziness is at play when you can’t seem to finish that next project. It’s much easier to find methods for focusing and productivity when you can determine exactly why you’re struggling in the first place.
Take a moment to check in on your emotional needs and what about the project is blocking you from getting started or being productive.
If you’re unsure of how to approach the new assignment, ask your client or professor for further instruction. This helps to eliminate uncertainty and make it easier to get started or take the next steps on a project.
It’s all-important to take care of your mental health. Many individuals in all stages of their life struggle with mental health in the long and short term. But there are many resources that can make it easy to manage their effects, provide you the support of trustworthy professionals, and make achieving your goals for work or school feel more accessible.
Taking the time to address the potential reasons behind why you’re struggling to focus can help you on the path to finding the best solutions for your concentration needs.
Create Reasonable Goals
When we have an enormous to-do list or lots of little responsibilities, it can be very easy to become overwhelmed, the extent of being paralyzed by all that we need to do. Enormous goals can feel impossible to meet, which can keep us from getting started or moving forward.
One of the best ways to manage this feeling of being overwhelmed or unable to focus is to break up your goals. It can be challenging to get started, and sometimes that sense of being discouraged can contribute to feelings of guilt and actually make it even harder to meet your responsibilities. Instead, you’ll want to commit to getting something done, even if it isn’t necessarily the most important thing, since it’ll help you to feel inspired and motivated to continue onto the more challenging steps.
Find the Right Learning Method
There are many different ways to learn and they’re going to vary from person to person and project to project. When we try to follow a method of learning or content creation that doesn’t fit with our particular needs, it can feel like every step is an uphill battle and the work we create isn’t necessarily as good as it could be.
Explore your different types of learning methods and options to find a method for studying or working that best fits your needs. Not only will this make it easier to be productive and get work completed, but you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and encouragement to keep working on the next item on the list.
If you’re struggling to stay on task when you’re at work or at school, eliminating the distractions in your area can make all the difference. While some people can work effectively when they have many tasks going on at once, take a look at how the process works for your own productivity.
If you find that responding to messages and emails and watching television and snacking all at the same time make it difficult for you to get work done the way you want, then try to eliminate some of the biggest distractions around you.
That means turning off the phone, closing the door, and telling your family and co-workers that you need time to be left undisturbed.
Not only will eliminating distractions help to provide you with extra time to accomplish your goals, but it also means you won’t have to keep finding the motivation to get started on the project again.
A great way to eliminate distractions is to listen to music. Music without words, like classical music and even music from action films can help to keep you on task and keep out any noises that might take your attention away from the project or assignment, so you can meet your goals in a quick and intentional way.
Change Up Your Environment
Sometimes we just need a break—and one of the best ways to get that break is to change up the environment you’re in. While the perfect office or study space can help you to feel encouraged and excited to create or meet your goals, being in the same place for too long can make you feel unmotivated and frustrated.
The simple solution to this is to step outside of your office or study space for a short period of time. Fresh air, a new environment, or even just a few minutes away from a computer screen, can give us a boost and make it easier to find the motivation we need to concentrate on the tasks at hand.
Ask for Help
You don’t have to do it all by yourself. If you find that you’re struggling to complete a project because the instructions were unclear or because you don’t understand what’s expected of you, then reach out to your client or professor for clarification. You may find that the things holding you back were based in doubt and uncertainty.
If you do understand the scope of the project but you’re still struggling, then enlist the help of friends or colleagues. Maybe your family can take some of the pressure off of your back by assuming responsibilities around the house or your colleague can provide their insight into the assignment and help you to unstick.
It can also be helpful simply to have a study partner around, so you feel inspired and engaged to continue working on your project.
One of the most important things you can do when it comes to supporting your focus and making it easier to get your job done is to take care of your mind and body. Getting enough sleep, eating nutritious, healthy foods, and staying well-hydrated throughout the day are essential for maintaining overall health and wellness and for staying on task.
If you’re snacking while studying, try to reach for foods that will give you good energy and won’t lead to a crash later down the line. When you take your next break from working or studying, consider a short walk, a period of meditation, or even a few minutes of yoga. This can be helpful for keeping yourself focused and for feeling energized and excited.
Can Caffeine Be Helpful for Focus?
Caffeine can also be an excellent option for staying on task and well-energized. While it’s always important to balance the amount of caffeine you drink with your other healthy habits, caffeine can boost your energy levels and keep you on task. It works as a stimulant to maintain alertness and reduce fatigue.
One of the best options for caffeine is matcha tea, like the kind you’ll find here at Tenzo Tea.
Unlike other types of tea, matcha tea is mixed with hot water, rather than steeped. That means the effects last longer and are more effective. When you drink matcha tea, over other types of caffeinated beverages, you’ll get to enjoy an energy boost for a longer period of time and you won’t need to worry about the effects of a caffeine crash.
Mix matcha powder into your morning latte or smoothie or enjoy in your favorite sweets to get a bold and delicious flavor that makes it easier to focus on work and school without distraction.
It can be frustrating to sit down to a new project for work or a new homework assignment and find you just can’t seem to focus on what needs to get completed. There are many reasons we can struggle to stay focused, and you aren’t alone in sometimes needing support.
If we’re feeling overwhelmed with work and projects, doubtful of our own ability, or we’ve simply been staring at the screen for too long, it can have an effect on our productivity.
There are many steps you can take at home, work, and school to get back on the path toward motivation and goals. Start by getting to the root of your procrastination and why you might be struggling to accomplish your tasks.
Break up your goals into smaller, more manageable projects, eliminate all distractions, and take care of your body with good food and rest. It’s also important to learn how to ask for help when you need it.
Tenzo Tea is here for you. When you need that next energy boost for those long work or study hours, you’ll want to reach for a matcha tea from Tenzo tea.
It’s full of energy support that won’t cause a crash, and every sip is bold and delicious. Explore our growing library of information and resources on the benefits of matcha and hit the ground running with a cup of your own today.