You know the feeling. You’re working hard, getting stuff done, and suddenly… “Oh shoot, I forgot to reschedule my doctor’s appointment!” Then you remember you also forgot to take the trash out last night. And wait – did that Amazon package you ordered ever come in?
Suddenly, your productivity is out the window, your to-do list just grew a mile long, and you can’t possibly stay focused. When this happens occasionally, it’s not a big deal. But if it’s happening to you on a weekly or even daily basis? It’s time for some change. We’ve come up with some of the best ways to clear your head and stay focused so that when distraction comes knocking, you can keep the door shut tight.
When the productivity train has been derailed, physically remove yourself – even if it’s just for 5 minutes. Changing your surroundings will automatically change your mindset and thinking pattern, which means your brain will have an easier time moving back into “work mode” when you get back to your original task.
Set a Timer
If what’s keeping you from staying focused is worry-based, sometimes just stepping away won’t do the trick. What that worry or fear wants is center stage – so let it stand in the spotlight for a few minutes! It’s perfectly fine to set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes, and let yourself ruminate on that unpaid bill or family drama. Talk about it, think about it, write about it – let it all out. And then when the timer goes off? Shut the thoughts down. Sometimes, pretending a worry isn’t there can actually take more energy than just acknowledging it and then moving on.
Try Yoga Nostril Breathing
Nostril breathing is known for slowing your heart rate, calming your mind, and centering your brain and body. To try it, sit in a comfortable position with your legs crossed. Exhale completely, and use your right thumb to close your right nostril. Inhale through your left nostril, and close the left nostril with your fingers. Then, open the right nostril and exhale. Inhale through the right nostril and then close the nostril. Now open the left nostril and exhale through the left side.
That counts as one cycle; you can continue the cycle for up to 5 minutes – just make sure you always complete the practice by exhaling on your left side. If at any point you feel dizzy, nauseous, etc., stop doing it! A great way to make sure you’re practicing this correctly is to talk to a yoga teacher or holistic practitioner.
Write It Out
If you’re a Type A personality, this one is for you. When those random to-do items spring into your head, have a list at the ready that you can add to. Keep this list by your desk, bedside, etc. so that as soon as you think it, you can write it out (and then forget about it!). When your brain knows that the task will be taken care of later, it can settle back down and focus on what you were trying to accomplish in the first place.
Whether it’s yoga, running, kickboxing, or gardening – just do something to get your body moving. Physical movement will automatically keep your brain in a more healthy, less hyperactive state, and will help you with concentration, positive thinking, and feeling at peace.
Listen to Your Body
As weird as it may sound, sometimes that brain fog, frustration, or distractedness could just be your body telling you it needs some water or food. Our bodies communicate with us constantly, and if you’re dehydrated or lacking nutrition, your body will let you know – many times, through things like grumpiness or a lack of focus. Before you give up on finishing that project, try drinking a big glass of water and checking in with your body to see if it needs a healthy snack.
Focusing can be tough, especially in today’s constantly busy,very active, and social world; but staying distracted doesn’t have to be the norm. Have you tried any of these ideas to keep yourself calm and focused? Let us know in the comments, and add any of your own tips for keeping your brain on task!