10 Reason Why You Cannot Focus on Anything
Have you felt that you had to focus on something but your mind would keep wandering in every possible direction? I too felt that all the time but finally I could get a hold of this issue and I figured out 10 reasons why I could not focus on anything and how to overcome it.
First, I would answer it broadly and then later dive into the reasons. So, Why can’t you focus on anything? Focusing on a given task requires complete attention with no distractions. However, due to some internal or external factors, our focus gets disrupted.
Today, we live in a competitive world and our focus must be intact for us to get desirable results. Below are the 10 reasons why you cannot focus on anything.
1. You have Mental Diarrhea going on
What does mental diarrhea mean? Mental diarrhea is just a fancy word for continuous thoughts in our mind that keeps us all worried. Because we give our thoughts the power to keep us all worried we tend to get stressed and feel anxious.
Now, there is a difference between getting a thought that is not true and we fear that it might happen and get the thoughts that are true with facts. If we worry about thoughts that are not true at the moment then it’s a mere distraction as compared to your worries about the factual situation.
A great example would be – I don’t want to eat sweets because what if I get diabetes. However, If you already have diabetes then you probably should not eat it.
Again, if we’re worried about something true and will happen, then I highly recommend solving that out first because, without it, your mind would never be able to focus. Most thoughts are normal and it is the signs of a healthy brain. But obsessing over those thoughts can be an issue for your focus.
How to Solve this –
There are two possible solutions that we can take to control our thoughts. The first one as discussed if something is coming up which is important and your mind is being diverted, then you should probably finish solving at first. However, If you keep getting thoughts that are not true you and you’re just obsessing over it. A technique Mentioned in Michigan Medicine University has one of my favorite technique to minimize unwanted thoughts
2. You are surrounded by distractions
Many distractions take place when we try to focus on something. The distraction can be external like a notification on your cell phone, noisy equipment, or children playing. According to research done by Steelcase
“The typical manager is interrupted every 8 minutes, and employees spend, on average, 28% of their time dealing with unnecessary interruptions and getting back on track.”
Thus, distractions are a Killer of your focus and productivity. And if you do not work towards fewer distractions it would be nearly impossible to focus.
But don’t worry, I have jotted down some quick fixes that would gain back traction for you –
- Work in a close environment – According to a study, 64% of people are likely to get more disturbed when they are working in an open environment. While the report talked about the office. I tried this at home, added an earplug and my focus was improved drastically.
- Prioritize your work – We may be a good MultiTasker but Research at Stanford shows that focusing on different things at a time make keep us less focused. I tried to create the top three priorities for the day and allocated a certain amount of time to each task. while I struggled in the beginning but results after a while was pretty fantastic
- Analyze your thought process – Did you know that we spend almost 50% of our time thinking about something that doesn’t matter. After I read this article I monitored my thought process and every time my mind wandered I use to bring it back on the task. This gave me a pretty great result.
3. You are surrounded by Mess
I used to struggle to find certain things when my desk was a mess. It wasn’t long enough for me to understand that our work has a significant amount of influence on the way we work. I created a motto for myself later on that no mess on the desk means no mess on the head.
So how does an organized desk influence focus? According to Gloria Mark, it takes almost 24 minutes for us to regain our focus. Now that is a lot and finding a file on paper on a messy desk would cost us precious time. Therefore it creates a distraction.
Start thinking of your desk as your brain, the more neat and organized things your desk is, the lower the chances of distraction. People that have a cluttered desk or house procrastinate more than the people who are organized – Source There are certain steps that I adopt to keep my environment neat, clean and organized.
- 10 Minutes Rule – I have developed this habit where after I select my top 3 priorities I keep those files organized on the desk. So that I can have access to them as and when possible.
- Trash the things you don’t need – Sometimes I even trash the things that I won’t need for another week or so. I do it cause I can get the printout later on but at that moment I just need a clean desk
- Get clarity on what is required and what is not – Now this one I learned the hard way. While I throw away the things that aren’t required for a while I once threw away the report that I had to present later on. So please check properly what you throw and what you need.
4. You are way too Focused
Who would have imagined focusing would also be an issue. But, yes it is true. Focusing too much is an issue. The main reason why you focus too much on one thing is probably that you believe in perfectionism. While perfectionism is not bad but spending too much time on a particular task may lead to procrastination.
While creating a business plan with a friend, we spent almost 4 days to get it right’. While yes we needed to get it right but what it did was it drained all the energy and to keep your focus precise we must have energy. So, what should we do? How do we get rid of perfectionism behavior to improve our focus?
There are certain ways that I used to keep myself out of perfectionism and they are –
- Trusted my outcomes – Remember when I said that we spent four days on a business plan. So the next time we created a plan in a day and we trusted ourselves. This helped us to change your focus on the next aspect of the business
- Keep the worst-case scenario in mind – I kept reminding myself about the worst thing that could happen if things were not perfect and It simply didn’t matter because we know we were doing the right thing.
5. Your Diet may be the reason
When we talk about diet, there is no special food that would change or improve your focus instantly. However, we talk about certain foods that we can eat or avoid. Some foods would provide you with the necessary energy to stay focused while other foods would make you feel lazy or dizzy.
Check out the list of foods that would provide you energy –
- Fatty Fish
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Dark Chocolates
- Green Tea
- Flax Seeds
List of Foods to avoid to improve your brain memory and focus
- Sugary Drinks
- Refined Carbs
- Trans Fat foods
- Processed Foods
- Artificial Sweeteners
- Fish high in mercury
- Refined Pasta
- Red Meat
- Vegetable Oil
6. You don’t know what your problem is
Another important reason which diverts focus is problems. While problems are inevitable when you fail to identify what your problem is, you spend too much time thinking about the problem rather than focusing on what is important. There are many reasons because of which you don’t know what your problem is the two most common are lack of knowledge and laziness.
Have you ever felt like something is distracting you but you just don’t know what it is? We’ve all been there. This is known as a lack of knowledge of what you’re feeling. Another possible reason is that you simply don’t care and you let the laziness be the cause of your diverted focus.
So, How do you identify problems? there are countless articles on the Internet available, but according to my personal experience it is not all complicated and easy to fix
- Ask Questions – The solution to every mind block is asking questions. First off start by asking what you’re feeling.
- Why are you feeling it- Another question is to ask why you’re feeling it. This would probably give you a reason behind your thoughts.
- How to resolve it – Once you identify the feelings, it becomes clear as to why you were thinking about it, and probably you can get this done first if it’s a priority or keeps your focus intact.
7. You Didn’t Get Proper Sleep Last Night
I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to get enough sleep. Not getting enough sleep has its side effects. One of them is that it causes thinking issues And we know that thinking leads to mental diarrhea which leads to distractions.
Do you remember the time when you woke up fresh and energetic? Tre recalling that evening and think how were you all energetic. What changed? How many hours did you sleep that day? Answering these questions would provide answers that would improve your focus because missing one night’s sleep can lead to cognition thinking issues.
Signs that you didn’t get proper sleep due to which your focus is sacrificed-
- Your eyelids feel heavy – There is a difference between fatigue and sleepiness and one of the ways to tell the difference is that your eyelid feels heavy when you are sleepy.
- You behave cranky – Lack of sleep induces mood swings and you have trouble concentrating. You get irritated with every obstacle for the day which causes your focus to shake.
- You forget stuff – To keep your focus intact you must remember what you want to do and how to do it. But if you didn’t get proper sleep it interrupts your short-term memory.
8. You Need more dopamine
I used to suffer from a lack of motivation and vision and that’s when I came to know about dopamine. An important brain chemical that influences your mood and makes you feel positive and motivated. When you feel positive and motivated you tend to put more focus on your task and get more things done with greater results.
However, with low levels of dopamine, you feel disinterested, low level of productivity, and basically, crawl through the day. Now, you can get dopamine naturally and you should get it naturally because replying to supplements may cause some side-effects.
There are some ways that you can get natural dopamine-
- Proteins- While I don’t need to sound all technical with amino acids and stuff. But your body needs an amino acid that boosts your focus and productivity.
- Workout often- A study found that workout and yoga six days per week drastically increases your dopamine level.
- Get proper sleep- Getting regular high-quality sleep also improves your dopamine levels by making you feel more alert and sharp
- Listen to music- I don’t mean your favorite song because then that would distract you. What I meant was listening to relaxing instrumentals on youtube. A small study by NCBI found that you can almost increase 9% of dopamine by just listening to relaxing and soothing music.
9. You Lack Reasoning
I have learned from my experience that if you don’t have a good enough reason to do a task then you’re probably going to see some difficult days. This research-based article by professor Jon Jachimowicz talks about focusing less on passion but focusing more on the why. That is your purpose.
If you do not care about something deeply and run after your self-defined passion then according to Jon Jachimowicz
“We found that those who believed pursuing passion meant following what brings one joy were less likely to be successful in their pursuit of passion, and were more likely to quit their job 9 months down the line”
Therefore, you must find your deeper meaning of doing something rather than doing it for the sake of it. Here are 3 quick benefits of having a purpose in your life –
- You feel energetic – What else do you need to focus on? If you feel energetic every day you can put your focus and get the desired results.
- You feel confident – You can easily focus on things that you feel confident about rather than the things that hold you back.
- You feel healthy – Having a purpose in your life is good for your mental and emotional health as cited by Everyday Health
Do you see how every benefit of good reasoning leads you towards a better focus? That is the power of purpose. With deeper meaning comes better focus.
10. You are procrastinating
For years I tried to crawl through the day thinking about what I WOULD do. I spent my time more on planning rather than the action itself. I read a quote somewhere that Planning is still a dream if you don’t take action. To make your dream come true you must take actions that would give us great results.
Because most of us think of the stuff we would do we don’t focus on actions. Procrastination happens when we have a fear inside of us. Fear of maybe a task, messing up, or facing uncertainty. Therefore, we think that we would do and then distract ourselves with social media and YouTube.
Certain signs tell us whether or not we are procrastinating. Those are –
- Uncertain Purpose – If you have an uncertain purpose you would feel more like crawling through the day than living the day. This drastically affects your focus
- Making excuses – You want to face the facts and most of us are good at running leading us diverted from focus.
- Having unanswered questions – When you have unanswered questions you tend to feel less focused and procrastinate about the what if.
What is the solution for it? How do I overcome procrastination? There are certain things I did to avoid procrastination and improve my focus on what is important. Here’s what I did –
- I got rid of perfectionism – If you didn’t skim through the blog. I mentioned that I spent days making a perfect plan rather than acting upon it.
- I stopped myself from distractions – There is a small millisecond-like moment where we switch from something that we must do to procrastination. In that small time, I started noticing it and brought back my focus on where it was required.
- Stay with the urge – Staying with something that makes us uncertain makes us stronger and forces our focus on what is important. You don’t need to tell yourself to avoid it. Just keep feeling it.
Hey, y'all I'm Faisal!!👋
I’m SO excited you’re here! I’m super passionate about improving ourselves and the daily challenges we Millennials go through, gives me hope to change our lives for good!
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