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Instead of succumbing to distraction, build it in, suggests a study from the University of Illinois. Psychologist Alejandro Lleras found that participants who were given short breaks during a minute task performed better than those who worked straight through. Taking a short break in the middle of a long task reenergizes the brain. Brief mental breaks will actually help you stay focused on your task.

According to a study from the University of Plymouth in England, doodling aids in cognitive performance and recollection. By Stephanie Vozza 4 minute Read. Here are eight tricks and tips for eliminating distractions and paying attention to what you need to do: Prepare Your Brain Before a task, calm your brain, says Venezky. Understand Where Your Focus Needs To Be Focus also involves an understanding of what is worthy of your distraction, says Ron Webb, an executive director at the American Productivity and Quality Center , a nonprofit research organization.

Unplug For 30 Minutes If you need to focus, log out of email and social media. Pick the time when your body is most ready to say, "Let's go! Some people work best from home because they feel the most comfortable there, while others feel more motivated when they're in a coffee shop or library where everyone is doing work. If you want to be as focused and productive as possible, then you should anticipate your needs before you start studying, or your mind will start to wander if your body wants to do something other than work.

Be prepared with healthy snacks like nuts, apples, bananas, and carrot sticks to keep you going instead of stepping out to the vending machine. No matter where you go, you should bring a bottle of water to keep your body refreshed. Bring or wear layers of clothing. If the room where you're working is too hot or too cold, you should be prepared to take off some layers or throw on a scarf or a sweater.

You don't want to lose your focus because you're sweating or shivering and can't do anything about it. Part 2 Quiz How should you start your day?

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Do some quick exercises. Drink a few caffeinated beverages. Hit the snooze button. Make a to-do list. If you want to focus better, you need to make a to-do list every day so that you have a tangible list of things to check off when you're done, and feel more direction to accomplish your goals. Instead of sitting around aimlessly, you'll have a list of goals in front of you, and will feel a sense of pride when you get them done. Tackle the things that you need to get done that day first, and feel accomplished if you have time to get a jump start and work on the other tasks. Reward yourself with breaks.


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Give yourself a small break every time you check another item off of your to-do list. Try doing all the small tasks, such as getting groceries, as soon as you can. This will narrow down your list and will ensure that you do all the minor tasks first. Don't be lazy and procrastinate those small things! Remember to do the most creative or difficult tasks in the morning, when you're full of energy and motivation. Save the easier things, like scheduling meetings, filing old papers, or cleaning your work space, for the afternoon, when you're feeling more drained.

Keep an organized space. Keeping an organized space is the key to being able to focus.

Focusing is much easier if you know exactly where everything in your office, library desk, backpack, or general workspace is. Having an organized space will save you countless time when you need to find something, and it will keep you more motivated to get work done. Clear anything not work-related away from your workspace.


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Aside from a few photos in your work office, everything you keep out should be related to work, whether it's paper, a stapler, or a set of pens. Put away your cell phone unless you really need it to work. You can check it every hour or two, but don't keep it out on your desk, or you'll be tempted to look at it all the time. Have an organized filing system. Knowing exactly where all of your documents are will save you tons of time throughout the day.

Managing your time is an important part of being focused. When you start a new work day and write your to-do list, write how long you think it will take to accomplish each task next to the task, so that you have a sense of what your day will look like. Try to do the most time-consuming things first so you can get them out of the way. Set reasonable expectations for each task. You shouldn't give yourself twenty minutes to do something that should take an hour.

Otherwise, you'll get disappointed when you don't accomplish your goals. If you finish a task early, use that time for a quick break. This will motivate you to get more work done. Plug breaks into your schedule.

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Taking breaks is just as important as staying on task. If you plan your day to include bursts of productivity followed by short breaks, then you'll be far more focused than if you just spend the entire day "sort of" working without taking any real breaks. You can use this time to make a quick phone call, respond to a friend's email, or step out to get a cup of tea. Use the breaks as a motivation to get work done. If you think, "I can have a delicious smoothie once I'm done with this paper," then you'll be much more motivated than if there's nothing positive on the horizon.

Use one of the breaks to get some mild exercise. Just taking a quick minute walk or walking up five flights of stairs and then back down will get your blood going and will make you feel more alert and energized. Take a break to get some fresh air. Step out to breathe in some fresh air, catch a morning breeze, or let the sunlight hit your face and you'll feel more focused and ready to get back to work. Part 3 Quiz How can you use breaks to be your most productive self? Give yourself at least a half-hour break after every hour of work.

Stop multitasking and learn how to focus - Mayo Clinic

Use a break to get some mild exercise. Reward yourself with a break every time you answer an email. The Internet may be filled with interesting and valuable information, but when it comes to getting work done, it can be a huge time-suck. If you really want to get work done, then you need to avoid social media and chatting with your friends throughout your work day, and to check your email only a few times a day if you really need to. If you spot an interesting article, tell yourself that you can read it during your scheduled break time -- but not sooner. Avoid sending personal emails while you're working.

This will distract you and will usually take a lot longer than you intended. If you don't really need the Internet for work, then disconnect your wireless completely. You can reconnect it every hour or two to check back in. Avoiding online distractions completely takes time. If you check your Facebook and email every fifteen minutes, start by checking it every 30 minutes, and see if you can work up to checking it just two or three times a day, or to avoiding Facebook altogether.

If you do need the Internet to work, try not to keep more than five tabs open at a time.

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Focus on what you need to read and move on. If you have too many pages open at once, your mind will be in multi-task mode. Don't get distracted by other people. Other people are a major distraction, whether you're working in an office or a library. Don't let them keep you from accomplishing your goals. Though it may be tempting to socialize when you're supposed to be working, this will slow you down and will make you work longer. They'll be less likely to butt in if they see how committed you are.

Don't take personal phone calls or text messages unless there's no avoiding it. Tell your friends and family to contact you while you're working if it's really important, and you'll get less messages. If you have a study buddy or a study group, make sure everyone stays on task. You can even clap your hands once every time people get off task to serve as a reminder of how important it is to stay focused. Don't get distracted by your environment. Any work environment can be distracting if you allow it to get to you. But if you have the right mindset, then you can use almost any work environment to your advantage.

Here's what to do: If you're working in a loud and public place, invest in some noise-cancelling headphones or listen to music without lyrics to stay focused. If you're sitting next to someone who is talking on his phone, or two friends who are loudly engaged in conversation, move away from them, even if you're settled in your place. If you're working somewhere where a television is on, don't look up at it more than once an hour, or you can get sucked in. You should write down why you're motivated to get your work done, and look down at this reason several times a day, to remind yourself why it's important to focus and not be tempted by a distraction.

Consider the importance of your work itself. Tell yourself that if you're grading papers, it's important to give your students feedback. If you're wrapping up a project, then it's important for the success of your company. What personal advantage will you gain from getting the work done? If you study for a test, then you'll be able to get a good grade and boost your CGPA. If you seal an important deal with a client, you may be able to get a promotion.

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Consider the fun things that await once the work is done. Remind yourself about the fun things you can do once the task is done, whether it's taking an evening yoga class, catching up with an old friend over ice cream, or having a nice, relaxing meal with your significant other. Part 4 Quiz True or False: Whenever I'm reading, I find myself wondering whether I'm remembering what I'm reading, and then get confused.

What can I do about this? When you're reading, allow the text to come to life through your imagination. When you imagine the story actually happening, you are more inclined to absorb and remember it. Not Helpful 24 Helpful This content does not have an English version. This content does not have an Arabic version. Healthy Lifestyle Adult health. Free E-newsletter Subscribe to Housecall Our general interest e-newsletter keeps you up to date on a wide variety of health topics.

Multitasking isn't working for me. How can I focus my attention and improve my concentration? Answer From Amit Sood, M. References Jeste DV, et al. Complementary, alternative, and integrative medicine interventions.

American Psychiatric Publishing; Accessed April 10, Skaugset ML, et al. Evidence and limitations of task switching and multitasking in emergency medicine. Annals of Emergency Medicine.