12 Tips to Help You Stay Focused

Well, as you can see from the title, we’re talking about ways to stay focused. Fun topic, I know.

Honestly, our attention span is seriously lacking. Apparently, it’s less than your average 8 second goldfish according to Microsoft’s 2015 report. Sad. We have the attention span of a goldfish. Think about that for 8 seconds now.

I did happen to find some articles disproving this calculation, but we’ll just roll with it anyway. Speaking of goldfish, have you seen that new movie on Netflix?

With so many distractions out there, it’s hard to be productive. Here are 12 tips that will help you stay focused when you can’t seem to concentrate.

Put the Phone Away

You know how distracting your phone can be. It’s so easy to get lost in the sea of apps, messages, social media, news…sucks you right in. So if you want to stay focused, don’t put it within reaching distance.

I went as far as putting it in my closet once because I knew if a notification popped up, I’d be a goner.

And guess what? It worked.

I was able to finish everything on my list in an hour or two and I was happy doing it.

So if you have trouble separating from your phone, think of it as a challenge or even make a bet with yourself.

You’ll feel much better knowing how productive you can be without the phone. And a plus if you if you accomplish the challenge.

Take that Much Needed Break

Rule of thumb: whenever you’re head starts hurting or you can’t concentrate, take a break. A nice break is usually 30-45 minutes where you’re doing something that doesn’t require too much brain power.

Food and netflix are always a nice combo (youtube works too), but not always the best idea if you fall into the rabbit hole that is Netflix & youtube.

If you need a change of scenery, go outside and take a walk. Clear your mind and get some fresh air.

My favorite kind of break includes a book and some music. Just make sure it’s something you enjoy doing.

So set a timer and relax. You deserve it.

Set Goals and Make a List

There’s nothing more satisfying than making a list and checking (or slashing) each one of those pesky to-do’s off your list. It also helps you stay organized and have a clear idea of everything that needs to be done.

By making a list, you’re also bound to be more productive since you won’t forget anything and you can decide what’s most important at the moment.

I know I’m at my best when I have a list + a goal for the day. Usually my goal will be to get a certain number of things done in one day (which all depends on how time-consuming each task is).

The best way to approach a to-do list is to do the most important things first. Sometimes it’s nice to do the easy tasks before the tedious ones since the list will shrink in a quick timeframe. However, it all depends on what motivates you most.

Reward Yourself

You always work best when you know there’s a reward at the end of the tunnel.

Before starting anything, think of something you love doing and tell yourself you can do it as soon as you finish everything (and only if you finish).

For me, my reward would be reading a few chapters of a book or watching an episode of my latest show addiction. Maybe for someone else that reward would be buying something they’ve been wanting for awhile or hanging out with friends.

It’s that much more satisfying when you know you earned it. And it helps you stay focused and motivated.

Peppermint Tea

Research shows that peppermint tea boosts concentration and improves focus. You can also drink as many cups as you want without worrying about a caffeine buzz. However, to maximize the health perks, two to three cups per day are said to be best.

Peppermint will not only increase alertness, but keep you relaxed and calm which is a perfect brew when you’re about to take a test, give a presentation or even hiking a trail.

Additional benefits: helps with digestion and sleep, supports your immune system, reduces nausea and might even improve memory.

So drink up and reap the benefits.

Coffee

Coffee is one of the drinks many people turn to when they need that extra energy boost, but it does more than that.

It also happens to improve focus and concentration. For optimal performance, the key lies in the dose.

You should only drink one cup of coffee per day to avoid any negative side effects. Plus, if your caffeine intake is too high, your body might not get the signals since it becomes used to the effects.  

Download Apps

If you’re phone is near you, then you might want to download the app, Flipd.

This allows you to lock your phone for a however long you want which can be handy for those of us who can’t control the impulse. Techcrunch gives a more in depth explanation.

THowever, if you’re on your laptop, don’t worry. There’s apps for blocking websites and urls too.

SelfControl and FocusMe can be installed in minutes and will keep you focused…no distractions. It should also be noted that you choose how long you want each of the websites blocked.

I have personally tried SelfControl and it really does work. It’s annoying as hell when you want to go on one of the blocked websites and can’t, but it’s worth it when you finish everything in record time.

Eat Breakfast

Ever since we were young, we’ve heard how breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Well, it’s still true.

Research shows that skipping breakfast decreases mental performance and reduces concentration along with alertness.

In other words, if your stomach is growling, you won’t be able to put much thought into anything except food. When you’re hungry and have to focus, you’ll most likely end up hangry.

So eat up. Even if it’s only a protein bar or a smoothie. A car can’t drive without gas, you can’t operate without sustenance.

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is proven to help increase focus along with improving memory. So eating some dark chocolate or having a cup of hot chocolate while be incredibly beneficial and yummy.

It doesn’t hurt that there’s some caffeine to give you that much-needed energy boost. But there’s also not too much caffeine where you’ll be wired for hours. It’s the perfect amount.

Chocolate also just makes people happy and has many other benefits.

So if you’re in a funk, grab the cocoa.

Aromatherapy

If you need to focus and would rather breath in some fresh scents, aromatherapy might be the way to go.

Peppermint, lavender, rosemary and lemon are only a few essential oils that improve concentrations, so it’s definitely beneficial to look into and see if it works for you.  

Here are 8 essential oils that will will help increase focus and memory according to The Miracle of Essential Oils.

Listen to Music

Music should be no surprise when it comes to being focused.

For me, some background noise (that I actually like) can greatly improve my speed and mood which, in turn, boosts my overall performance.

According to Northcentral University, you should listen to tracks with 60 to 70 beats per minute. Genres to put on your playlist include classical, electronic, and spa music. Nature sounds can also be soothing and help with concentration. Sadly, music with lyrics can be distracting when studying, so best to avoid them.

However, if you’re performing simple tasks, then listening to upbeat music with lyrics shouldn’t hurt. At least, that’s what I tell myself.

Enjoy Nature or your Quiet Place

Nature is always a calming environment where you can destress and relax. In addition, nature tends to boost your mood while also improving focus.

Stressed? Go Outside.

Feeling glum? Take a walk.

Can’t focus inside? Grab a blanket and sit beneath a tree.

Whether it’s right in your backyard, in a park or sitting by a stream, you’re bound to clear your mind and just concentrate on homework or maybe reflect on life.

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