Are you having trouble staying focused? Do you find your mind wandering when you should be listening to your spouse, kids or boss? Is your attention span becoming shorter and shorter? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, something may be zapping your concentration throughout the day. Here are some common daily distractions that may be zapping your concentration:
Email: Although you may feel most of your workday happens via email, the constant barrage of emails may be what is zapping your concentration. If you find you are continuously stopping a task to look through emails, work offline until you complete your priority projects. Longer projects may require “email breaks” where you pause work on the project to check emails. Only respond to urgent requests or anything that takes less than two minutes. Otherwise save more time-consuming issues for after your priority projects.
Hunger: When your tummy is rumbling, chances are the rest of your body is suffering too. Lack of nutrition and sustenance leads to many issues that may be zapping your concentration including fatigue and impaired mental clarity. Your brain and entire body needs food for energy. Make sure you eat meals and snacks high in protein and fiber to maintain steady concentration and focus.
Social Media: Each time you stop work to see what’s happening on social media, you set yourself back when you resume work. You have to re-enter your thought process, which wastes precious time. Rather than keeping social media open on your screen constantly, close out the applications and visit them as a break or treat as you complete tasks. If you are too tempted, turn off your phone and go somewhere without internet access so social media is not an option.
Calls and Visitors: Work time is meant for working so make that your priority. Turn off your cell phone if necessary or reject calls that are not potential emergencies or business-related. If work friends tend to stop by your office to gab, be friendly but firm that you need to complete your work and you will catch up with them later. Find alternative ways to make time for chatting, like calling friends on your way to/from work or meeting up for lunch.
Fatigue: When you are tired, your concentration suffers. Do your best to get enough sleep every night and make sure it is solid, restorative sleep by practicing good sleep habits. Also, do other things to boost your energy, such as stretching, getting fresh air, consuming small doses of caffeine and eating a wholesome diet.
Feeling Overwhelmed: When you are overwhelmed by your work and feel hopeless, you may find it hard to concentrate. Tackle stressful situations in smaller pieces by dividing projects into parts and viewing each separately. If you can compartmentalize areas of a project, you won’t be consumed by too many details at once. Also, seek help or guidance when you need it.
Other Thoughts, Worries or Tasks: The constant swirl of other issues can distract you from the task at hand. Things as simple as your grocery list, to more major worries about your health, can make you lose control of your concentration. Start by making a list of these thoughts, worries and tasks so you can release them from your brain. If some of them require action, such as scheduling a doctor’s appointment, do what needs to be done to get it off your mind.
Health Issues: Sometimes your lack of concentration may be due to a health issue. Some health issues are defined as the inability to focus, like ADD or ADHD. Others are side-effects of different problems. Sometimes medications can send your concentration down the toilet. Talk to your healthcare provider about these issues so he or she can help you come up with solutions.
If any of these problems are zapping your concentration, identify them and work to resolve the issues. Then watch your productively levels soar!