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October 4, 2016

Trouble Concentrating? 5 Reasons You Can't Focus

How to stomp out distraction in the workplace to achieve your most productive 9 to 5.

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Do you have trouble staying focused during the day? If so, you’re not alone. Many of us deal with a lack of focus at work, while some of us find it easier to tune out distractions in the workplace. The truth is, nobody stays completely locked-in 100% of the time–and we could all benefit from finding ways to ignore distractions in the office. Staying focused at work is easier said than done. One study found that office distractions eat an average of 2.1 hours of our day. That’s a substantial amount of productivity going down the drain. Smartphones, social media, and email help us accomplish amazing things, but they also distract us. Technology isn’t the only thing disrupting your concentration in the office. We’ve constructed a list of 5 common workplace distractions that you need to address.

5 Reasons Why You Can't Focus

1. Office distractionsare killing your focus

Most workplaces aren’t conducive to focus. They’re full ofdistractions that affect our ability to produce quality results and attain gratification. The feeling of curiosity you get when you see an emailnotification, or receive a text message may ultimately lead you to disengagefrom a more important task. But, there are things you can do to mitigate theseoffice distractions. I’ve shared a few below:

●     Try to work nearproductive people: This may seem obvious, but it is worth repeating: Productivity is contagious.Working around productive coworkers can give you motivation to stay ontask. 

●     Take a walkaround the block: If you’re having trouble concentrating, step outside and take a 10 to 15-minute walk. Research has shown that light exercise canrejuvenate the brain.This not only gives you something to look forward to, it also lets you know when it's time to get back to work.

●     Be transparentwith your colleagues: Communicate with your colleagues. How else will theyknow not to disrupt you while you’re working. There's nothing wrong withsending an email around that says, “I’m busy working on a time sensitiveproject. Please only reach out to me with issues that can’t wait untiltomorrow.” That way, they’re less likely to disturb you, and can also help pass on the message to others.

2. You have too much on your plate

We all love the team player; the guy who’s willing to take onnew tasks, no matter how daunting his current to-do-list may seem. Truth is,when it comes to multitasking, people often assume that they’re actually doingmultiple things at once. But, they aren’t. Instead, they are actually going back and forthbetween tasks and not completing their work any faster.

Working hard can mean enjoying life, being productive, andrealizing your ambition. But, when taken to an extreme, it can have a cripplingeffect. Learn to delegate responsibilities to others. Prioritize and manageyour time accordingly. There are times you can multitask. If the task at hand feels like it will not require a great deal of concentration, then go ahead and get it done alongside other small to-do's.

3. Big city life istaking a toll

When you live in the constant hustle and flow of a major city, there's no shortage of opportunities and rarely any dull moments. But, researchers have found that living in the big city can be hard on the brain.It’s common knowledge that natural landscapes are a much more calming backdropthan urban landscapes, but the constant stimuli is much more than just abackground; it’s something that city folks must be actively engaged in. Payingattention to street signals, weaving in and out of traffic, and watching forother drivers and pedestrians takes its toll and leaves us mentallyexhausted. This cognitive overload leaves you less equipped to maintain yourfocus throughout the day. Using public transportation and telecommuting are someof the ways to reduce the effect city life has on your ability to concentrateon work.

4. You’re not catchingyour Z’s

Rest is a key component to success and happiness, but sometimeswe fail to realize how integral it is to our concentration and productivity.Routine activities, like grocery shopping or doing laundry, can feel like overwhelming tasks when you're tired. Knowing this, we still push ourselves to thelimit each day, in an attempt to squeeze everything we can out of our 24 hours.This type of “cramming” we become accustomed to in college iscounterproductive. Fatigue slows your thought processes. Scientists measuringsleepiness have found that sleep deprivation leads to lower alertness andconcentration. This hampers your ability to perform tasks that require logicalreasoning and complex thought.

5. Stress is wearing youdown

Everyday life is fraught with distraction. It seems thatthe more distracted we are, the less happy we become. According to the AmericanPsychological Association, when stress starts interfering with yourability to live a normal life for an extended period, conditions become dangerous. Youmight start to feel fatigued, unable to focus, or irritable for no goodreason.  This is how stress can kill yourability to stay on task; it competes with your cognitive centers—the areas inthe brain that are responsible for quick, sharp thoughts. Proven remedies for dealing withstress include: meditation, getting regular exercise, and sharing your problemswith others.

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