[A collaboration post – all thoughts are my own.]
Lately, others than facing insomnia, I have trouble focusing too. Sometimes there’s so much going on in your life and it’s hard to find focus. Given our concerns about jobs, worries about the economy, and uncertainty about the future in general – not to mention trying to juggle working from home, and just trying to keep life moving ahead – it’s no wonder we can’t focus on anything.
We live in a world where stress is almost unavoidable. Caught in a constant to-do list, balancing your commitments, and coping with stress in healthy ways can seem impossible. Many aspects of your work environment can affect your focus. Some reasons you can’t focus may include:
- Multiple tasks: working on too many tasks at once may lead to difficulties concentrating.
- Medical conditions: physical and mental health conditions can affect your ability to focus.
- Lack of rest: inadequate sleep can cause concentration difficulties.
- External distractions: personal texts, emails, or phone calls can affect your productivity.
While multitasking can help productivity, switching your focus from one task to another can interrupt concentration each time you shift. However, for tasks that take little concentration, such as listening to music while working on a translation project, multitasking may improve productivity. This is multitasking that I do almost every day.
Ways to find focus when you’re stressed out
Drink enough water
Water is an elixir for the brain — you need to consume large amounts to stay sharp. According to the National Academy of Medicine, women should consume at least 2.7 liters of water a day (even more if you exercise regularly). My jobs required me to sit in front of my computer for hours and staying dehydrated is a must.
Leave the room
As much as I love staying at home, a brief change of scenery can help me put some distance between myself and my overwhelming feelings. I usually work outside twice a week to find focus when I’m in a stressful situation. If you’re too lazy going outside, take 5 minutes to walk in the garden, living room, or to the kitchen for a glass of water.
Watch something funny
After working for hours, I like to watch a funny show or video to help me relax or take my mind off of everything going on for a little bit. Laughter can be the best medicine when you’re stressed out!
Get proper rest
Not enough sleep can cause difficulty in your everyday life. Getting proper rest can help you concentrate throughout the day much easier. Try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule, ensuring uninterrupted sleep can also help productivity. If you’re having difficulties concentrating in the middle of your workday, consider using a scheduled break time to take a small nap.
Divide larger tasks
Working on two jobs sometimes put me in a difficult place. I try my best to accomplish important tasks first like translating a novel and then writing an article for the blog. For me, both of them are my priority so I need to divide larger tasks into smaller, manageable ones.
For example, I will deal with translation tasks for 2-3 hours without any interruption. Then around 11/12 P.M., I will move to my blog; writing, drafting, administration, etc. Another way you can divide your tasks is by setting 30-minute timers for uninterrupted focus sessions. Setting timers can help you focus on tasks and become motivated by completing them.
Taking breaks throughout your work hours can help rejuvenate your thought process and re-establish focus. For work such as translator or content writer, taking short breaks can help improve your attention to detail. I like to take a break 10-15 minutes after 1-2 hours of working. Breaks such as taking short walks, getting a glass of water, or talking with a coworker can help replenish your work concentration when you return.
Reducing stress can help you maintain a calm and focused attitude towards your work. Listening to ambient music through headphones while you work may help you concentrate – one of the daily habits that I love. You can also schedule daily activities through to-do lists or by keeping a clean workspace. Some people have different ways of reducing stress, some like to meditate, read, do light exercise, or journal.
If you find it hard to focus because of distractions from your phone or notifications, consider isolating any distraction sources. You can mute notifications temporarily or remove your phone from your workspace. If someone’s conversations or other noises distract you, consider temporarily moving your workstation to a quiet room or alternative desk if possible.