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How to Stay Focused: 12 Tips for Staying Focused at Work

Social media, multitasking, background noises… Do you find it hard to stay focused at work? It may help to think of your focus as a muscle you can grow and exercise, rather than a fixed ability at the mercy of distractions.

In this post, we’ll share with you 12 tips for staying focused backed by science. Read on to find out how to stay focused at work and beyond.

1. Eat right to keep your brain fueled

Your concentration owes a lot to your mood, state of mind, and overall health. These, in turn, depend on what you eat. To stay focused, avoid skipping meals, which can lower your ability to concentrate and make your brain feel foggy.

And make sure you eat healthy:

  • good fats for your brain including nuts, olive oil, and oily fish
  • lean protein like legumes, fish, tofu, beans, peas
  • complex carbs like whole grains, quinoa, oatmeal, sweet potatoes
  • fruits and vegetables, including leafy greens

2. Consume caffeine in small doses

Coffee, green or black tea, yerba mate, or dark chocolate can all boost your concentration. Provided you enjoy them in small doses. Drinking a large cup of coffee or black tea all at once may only make you anxious and restless, which will decrease your ability to concentrate. On the other hand, if you’re sensitive to caffeine, consuming only a little or avoiding it altogether may actually improve your focus.

3. Get proper sleep

Not getting at least 7 hours of sleep every night will affect your focus, memory, and often, your mood too. To sleep better, avoid caffeine in the second half of the day, put away screens an hour or two before bedtime, and cool down your bedroom to 60-67 degrees F (15-19 degrees C). You can also wind down with a book or warm shower.

4. Turn off distractions

Start with the distractions you can control, such as turning off notifications on your phone and computer. Consider also blocking social media and addictive apps and sites using a tool like AppBlocker. Then try to limit any other distractions if possible. Close the door if you have to. With distractions off, it will be easier to stay on task, work better, and finish projects faster.

5. Prioritize your to-do list

How to keep focus with so many things to do? Writing down tasks will increase your chances of accomplishing them. But to-do lists can easily become a burden if you let them. That’s why it’s crucial to always prioritize your tasks, choosing two or three key tasks and sorting the others based on importance.

man with sticky notes on his face overwhelmed by tasks

6. Try the Pomodoro technique

A popular time management method, the Pomodoro technique can improve your focus and flow. You’ll need a timer. Set it for 25 minutes and focus on your task. Then take a 5-minute break. Repeat the cycle for a total of four Pomodoro sessions before taking a half-hour break.

7. Group similar tasks and avoid multitasking

Multitasking significantly lowers productivity. Resist the temptation to switch from tasks, even if your computer makes it easy. Group similar tasks and work on them one at a time to stay focused. This approach will make transitions between tasks smoother and help keep you in a state of flow that can boost your productivity.

8. Seek silence or a gentle background noise

Silence can boost your concentration. When silence is not an option, consider a gentle background noise such as nature sounds, white noise, or pink noise. If your office or house tends to get noisy and you can’t quiet things down without offending people, try using a pair of noise-canceling headphones.

9. Listen to instrumental music

If you prefer working with music playing in the background, opt for music without lyrics. According to this study, instrumental music is less distracting. For some people, it may also reduce stress and improve their ability to concentrate. Classical music seems to be especially effective.

10. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness means being fully present in your body, aware of what you are doing and of your sensations from one moment to the next. Being mindful can sharpen your focus. It can also help you catch your mind when it begins to drift away and return it to your work. It’s easier to become mindful if you practice simple breathing exercises, like taking deep breaths and counting your breaths.

relaxed woman breathing mindfully surrounded by flowers

11. Practice short memory recall to improve your concentration

Exercising your short-term memory may help you boost your ability to concentrate. Every week, try to remember a list of numbers. Start with 4 or 5 numbers. Add another number to the list each new week and keep exercising.

12. Address any underlying eye health problems

Common conditions like dry eye can cause unpleasant symptoms like a foreign sensation in the eye or light sensitivity that can lower your concentration. Don’t neglect eye problems. Recognize them and manage them through healthy dietary and lifestyle changes.

If you found our focus tips useful, you may enjoy the other digital lifestyle tips on our blog. From how to relieve tired eyes with an eye massage to how to sleep better at night, our posts span many different topics. Explore them now.