Trouble Concentrating? Here Are 5 Tips to Help You Focus
Technology has made it increasingly difficult to focus. There’s always a Facebook newsfeed to update, an article to read, or a Twitter feed to scroll through. If you have adult ADHD, and feeling trouble concentrating on important tasks becomes even more challenging. Procrastination, trouble meeting deadlines, and an inability to properly manage your behavior are all trademarks of adult ADHD.
Learning to establish routines, form new habits, and get organized are all effective ways to increase your ability to focus. You won’t immediately become impervious to distractions, but by practicing new habits daily your ability to concentrate will gradually increase.
Focus Tip #1. Set Timers
Doing short bursts of concentrated work is easy to improve your concentration. When you have several important tasks to complete, you may feel overwhelmed. By setting aside a specific amount of time to work on a task, it becomes much more manageable.
The Pomodoro Technique advocates dedicating 25 minutes to sustained work and then taking short 5-minute breaks. Repeat the process through the day, taking a longer break (25-30 minutes) after every four pomodoros.
The good news is that it’s an inexpensive way to increase concentration: All you need is a timer!
Focus Tip #2. Prioritize Tasks and Establish a Completion Time
It can be tempting to put off difficult or time-consuming jobs until the end of the day. However, the longer you take to start a task the more impossible to complete it seems. You may also find yourself inventing unimportant tasks to avoid starting: I need to do laundry right this minute! I have to organize all my files alphabetically immediately!
Instead, make a list of to-dos at the beginning of your day, listing priority tasks first, and assign the amount of time it will take you to complete each task. Then go through every item on your list, one by one, without skipping any. Hold yourself accountable.
Focus Tip #3. Create an Organized Environment
The organization creates space for productivity. Distraction often comes in the form of a desk in disarray or a messy home. Designate storage space for items you don’t use on a daily basis, keep your files organized, and have specific areas for keeping important items – keys, wallet, cellphone, etc. The less you worry about lost items or cleaning, the more time you’ll have to focus on the task at hand.
Focus Tip #4. Break Tasks Into Manageable Portions
Some tasks are bigger than others. To effectively implement your to-do list, you should break down each task into manageable portions. Start by doing the things that take the least amount of time first. You may find that a difficult project isn’t nearly as overwhelming when you break it into several 5, 10 or 30-minute tasks.
Focus Tip #5. Limit Distractions for Trouble Concentrating
Studies have found that the human brain can concentrate on two complex tasks simultaneously – add a third and concentration decreases. For adults with ADHD, it can be even more challenging to multi-task.
Improve your focus by limiting distractions. If you work in a noisy or busy office, wear noise-canceling headphones. If you work from home, designate an office area that is in a different room from televisions and phones. Many people find that the Internet offers hours of distraction. Downloading applications which block distracting websites during work hours or turning off Wi-Fi could help.
Increasing your ability to focus comes down to knowing your own strengths and weaknesses. If you have trouble concentrating on a task, then a timer, to-do list, or organized routine could help you. Implement some new habits daily and find the routine that works best for you.