Lack of focus happens for many different reasons. You may feel overwhelmed and not able to concentrate. You may be distracted by external stimulus, such as noise, all around you. You may be bored completing a tedious task. Lack of focus can be caused by different things, at different times, for example you may be overwhelmed with a large project at work and find yourself daydreaming because you just don’t know where to start. Later, you may be distracted by the noise in the office or the activity going on all around you. When you find yourself unable to concentrate, take a few moments to think about the trigger. This can help you better find a solution.
The following are tips you can use depending on your situation:
If distractions around you are causing problems, try using white noise to help block them out. A fan, a radio set on static, low playing music or a white noise machine may help you tune out what is going on around you. Just as too many distractions may cause you to lose focus, a too quiet environment may do the same. Try to find the "right" amount of stimulus for you.
If you are having a hard time getting down to work, try clearing the clutter in your area. Clutter can be visually distracting and clearing the clutter may help cut down those distractions, helping you pay attention to the task at hand.
Large tasks and projects are often overwhelming and it can make it hard to know where to begin. Taking time before beginning the project to break it down into step can help you focus on a small portion of the task at a time. If it is impossible to break the task into steps, try breaking it down into time segments, for example, work hard for 15 minutes, then allow yourself a break. It is sometimes easier to focus if you know you only need to focus for 15 minutes. Make sure, though, after a short break, you get back to work.
Give yourself rewards, deadlines or goals. Goals can be, "I finished this project in an hour last time, let’s see if I can get it done in 45 minutes this time," or "I will stop to have a snack after I complete this portion of the task (or work hard for 15 minutes."
Remind yourself you can do this. When overwhelmed or distracted, you may focus on the negative, chiding yourself for not getting the task completed. Instead, remind yourself of previous times when you completed a project on time. Positive self-talk can help you but keep it simple.
Change your normal routine. If you find you need to complete tedious or boring tasks, change the way you do it or where you normally do it. The variety can help you stay focused.
Map out your day. If you tend to move from task to task, without getting much accomplished, take a few minutes the night before or early in the morning to map out what you want to accomplish throughout the day. Having a blueprint of what you want to do can help you stay on track.
Enlist a partner. Find someone, your spouse, a friend, an ADHD coach, that you need to check in with throughout the day. Having someone you need to be accountable to can motivate you to focus so you can give a good report.
Use different approaches based on what is going on and why you are distracted. If you find that you can’t manage your lack of focus, talk with your doctor and review your current treatment. An ADHD coach or a therapist may be able to help you find ways to improve focus.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.