How do I focus on one thing at a time?


You may have heard this question from a friend, family member, or someone at work: I get distracted so quickly — how can I focus on one thing at a time? The answer is that there are many steps you can take to help you focus and stay on task.

You've probably noticed that people who can focus do things differently than those who have difficulty concentrating. Take the tips below and see if they help you focus and keep on track of what's important. I usually follow this...

How could I stop getting distracted?

It's normal to get distracted from time to time. The key is not to let distractions interrupt your work for too long. As soon as you find your attention drifting, bring it back to the task at hand.

One way to do that is: Ask yourself if the distraction is significant. If so, keep track of it until you have time to work on it. If not, let it go.

If you think a distraction is worth your time, set a time limit for yourself. For example, tell yourself that you'll check your email every 10 minutes or read the sports page for just 30 minutes before returning to what you're doing.

This tells your brain that it doesn't need to focus on the distraction until that time.

A distraction may also be worth your time, but not at that moment. If so, write down what you want to do and when — then come back to it when you've finished your task. This helps you remember the distraction (so you can follow up on it later) and gives your brain a chance to recharge and refocus before doing something new.

How could I stay focused?

Focus can be a skill that gets easier with practice. We should Keep in mind that you might have slipped just a bit and stopped doing what you were doing and it takes time to get back on track.

Toss out the distractions: Resist the temptation to let an email message or phone calls distract you from your current task until you've finished that one. If you're writing an article, your email shouldn't take more than two minutes. If you want to spend a few minutes chatting with someone on the phone, make sure the chatting is over before you start writing.

As distractions come and go, block them out as if they don't exist:

  1. Don't look at them.
  2. Don't answer them if they call your name.
  3. Don't even think about what they might be saying.

Make it a habit: When you make a commitment to yourself, your brain will follow through on it. Tell yourself that you won't let distractions get you off track, and stick to your guns!

Tips for staying focused:

Here are some other ways to become more focused and help keep distractions at bay and I usually follow this:

Don't stay in one place too long.

This works better than sitting in one spot and trying not to get distracted. Get up, walk around, and keep doing something else until your attention returns to the task at hand.

Take regular breaks:

Your brain needs a rest. If you're working long hours and don't allow yourself to take breaks, you will have a difficult time concentrating in the long run.

Write things down, but not too much:

Write down the key points of what you need to do. If you're writing a speech, write down five or six major points to hit. If you're writing a report or memo, write down one main point whenever possible. The key is to get the big things out of the way first and then refer back to them when you need to finish something else.

Always do what you can when you can:

There's no point in trying to force yourself to finish a task if you're not in the right frame of mind. Finish what you can and move on.

Reward yourself when you finish something:

This will help your brain remember what you've accomplished and make it easier for you to get back on task later on.

If you finish one job, permit yourself to stop working for a couple of minutes to read the sports page or watch a little TV. When you get back on task, give yourself another reward.

Use "do not disturb"

Use a "do not disturb" sign or flip the switch on your phone to silence your incoming calls and messages. If someone needs to get in touch with you, he'll leave a voice mail or send you an email.

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Second-year medical student, I always see my life from a positive aspect, so trying to make some face smile by writing some lines about happiness.


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