How To Get Focused When You Are Distracted: Tips You Can Do Today
Feeling like it’s hard to focus, and your thoughts keep getting away from you? We have some tips on how to find your focus and live your life in the now. Learning how to be mindful and keep your mind from wandering takes some practice, but it’s so worth the effort.
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Let’s face it, the last year has been difficult for everyone. It’s hard to stay focused when there is so much going on in the world. I find myself sometimes standing in the middle of a room, so lost in thought that I’ve forgotten why I’m there in the first place.
Mindfulness teaches us to live in the now and to be aware of our thoughts, our breath, and everything around us. But it also teaches us that it is alright to stand on the sidelines the many thoughts we have in a minute and allow them to pass us freely without crashing into us.
Learn How To Breathe
It’s always amazing to me how difficult breathing can actually be. I’m a shallow breather, and when I’m stressed or lost in some thought that is taking me away, I feel like I am barely drawing in are at all.
Stop right now, sit up tall, and take a long deep breath. Feel how wonderful it feels to draw in the air through your nose, enjoy that feeling. Then, slowly allow that inhale to gently flow out even slower than it went in.
Mindful breathing is learning how to think about the act of breathing and allowing it to bring your focus back inward.
Make a To-do List to stay focused
It’s easy to lose your way when you have no idea where you are going. One of my daily tasks is to make a list of things I want to accomplish. My focus is aimed at accomplishing checking off the tasks on my list and not getting distracted.
Don’t make that list too long, because then you set yourself up for failure. But give yourself credit for accomplishing little tasks and feel good about all you can do in a day.
I make a list of “Must Do” items that have a time-sensitive deadline.
Then I make a list of goals that I would like to accomplish each day.
Multitasking isn’t the best use of your time
Sure, you can work out while cleaning the house and talk on the phone. That’s multitasking. But to really be mindful of what you are doing and focus on the task at hand, we need to have all of our thoughts trained on completing the task.
When your mind is trying to keep track of too many things at once, it’s easy for it to slip away from you and get lost.
Don’t fall down rabbit holes.
As a blogger, one of my jobs is to read blog posts by other bloggers and keep up on social media. However, social media’s whole job is to steal your focus and keep you looking at what they want you to look at. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even LinkedIn are built around the concept of feeding you more information than you need so you will get distracted and stay focused on them.
This is why I limit my social media time and set aside articles that I want to read for later.
When I’m working, social media is off-limits.
And I use tools like Tailwind to schedule social media posts for me so that I don’t get lost on the platforms and lose valuable time.
Batch projects together
In the kitchen, we know that you can save time by prepping things and batch cooking. So if I know that this week I will be using onions a few times in recipes, I will cut up 3-4 onions at once and store them in the fridge or freezer until I need them. Or if I know I’m going to have a busy week, I’ll make a large dish on the weekend and set aside leftovers for quick meals and lunches.
You can do this with work projects as well!
Break up tasks that you might need to do into smaller pieces and try to stay focused on batching up as much as you can do in one session.
For example, when I am editing photos for blog posts. I take one session to take photos or search for the photos I am going to use for several blog posts or topics. Then I keep them all in a file folder that I’ll go to for the next session of editing photos.
In PicMonkey, you can make folders for projects you are working on. I like to name them by the theme I’m batching up. For instance, “Fall recipes” are full of fall photos and colors that I want to use for several posts.
I even have a “Pinterest” folder that has several graphics that are sized and ready for use on Instagram.
Use calendar reminders to keep you focused
Like most people, my phone is always close. And I load up my calendar full of tasks that need to be accomplished, ideas I want to explore, and even reminders to drink more water and call a friend for some stress-relieving conversations.
Throughout the day, I get reminders on my calendar that my tasks need some attention. And I will even set a deadline for some jobs that keep me from pushing them off and forgetting them.
Meditate and clear your head and find your focus
There is nothing harder than telling yourself to clear your head without knowing how to do it. It’s like telling someone not to be angry when they are screaming at you. It just doesn’t work.
Learning how to meditate is the first step into learning how to clear your head of overwhelming thoughts that are causing you stress.
Meditation teaches you how to stop, breathe, and focus on allowing the little thoughts to flow out so you can focus better.
Change your environment to find your focus
Sometimes you need to change the scenery or location to get a new state of mind and find your focus. It’s like a mental reset button. Maybe you need to take your work outside, relocate to another room, or maybe just get up and take a short walk.
Talk to someone about what you are trying to focus on and gain a new perspective.
There are times when I think I see the picture fully, but it isn’t until I talk to a friend that I can start to see it from different angels. The act of simply explaining what I’m trying to work out often helps me to figure out where I lost my focus and work to get it back.
Forgive yourself for being distracted
We all have discovered strength this year that we never knew we had. I never dreamed that I'd have to stay away from my kids, while the world suffered through this pandemic. It was really stressful to not be able to get on a plane and fly to see them, or call them all back home to stay together while we figured this out.
Finding my focus this year has been hard. But the one thing I want you to remember when you are struggling with this is to give yourself time and forgiveness for times when your focus seems gone. Your mind needs to let things go and work out the issues. And that's okay too.