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14 Ways to Stay Focused

Updated on February 5, 2014
You need to study but you just can't stay focused. Read on for a few tips.
You need to study but you just can't stay focused. Read on for a few tips. | Source

My brain didn't want to cooperate. I kept reading the same
paragraph and I kept understanding nothing. After many
unsuccessful attempts at trying to concentrate, I gave up. I knew I
needed help to stay focused.

So I decided write a list of things that would help me stay focused
when I need it the most. I hope you find this list helpful.

Why is it so hard to concentrate?

Distractions are everywhere! It's no wonder that we have such a
hard time concentrating. External as well as internal pollutants
make it hard for our brain to stay focused. Internal pollutants
(stress, pain, exhaustion) are just as distracting as external
pollutants (loud noises, calls, or text messages), if not more so.

Something else that doesn't help matters is the structure of our
brain. The part of the brain that deals with concentration (the pre-frontal
cortex) also happens to be the same part that deals with emotions.
So if you are experiencing any strong emotion - elation, anger,
sadness, fear - you are bound to be extremely distracted.

So what can we do to stay focused?

How much trouble do you have?

How many hours a day do you spend distracted?

See results

1) Identify the problem

Find out what is distracting you. Is it something external or
internal? If it's something external, see if you can dispose of it.
Sometimes we are distracted by loud noises or by shoes that don't
fit right and we don't even become aware of this distraction until we
try hard to identify it.

One way to stay focused is to prepare everything you will need so you won't have to be getting up.
One way to stay focused is to prepare everything you will need so you won't have to be getting up. | Source

Protein and concentration

Protein can help your brain stay focused and alert. Protein provides your body with tyrosene, which is an aminoacid that increases the production of neurotransmitters - such as dopamine and norepinephrine - which help keep your mind focused and productive.

However, don't mix carbohydrates and proteins. The calming effect of the carbs could cancel out the focusing properties of protein.

2) Disconnect

We all know that computers, internet and smart phones are major
distractors. You check your email to see if you have a message from
your boss, and somehow you end up looking at pictures of pretty

Save yourself the trouble (and the time) and turn off everything
that could potentially distract you. Turn off your phone and your wifi
and get to work.

3) Have a good breakfast

Eating a good, healthy breakfast can improve the brain's ability to
remain focused and to concentrate. Remember that a good
breakfast means quality not quantity.

4) Use headphones

Headphones are a universal signal that says:

"I don't want to talk to anyone."

And you know what? It works!

So if you want to stop your co-workers or family members from
distracting you, buy some big headphones and use them as your
thinking cap.

Or you can be even more direct and make a sign that says "Do not
disturb", and place it where every one can see it.


5) Set goals

Before diving head first into the task that requires your full and undivided attention, set short term goals so you can have a clear picture of what you're trying to accomplish. After you reach each
little goal, reward yourself with a little break.

*I remember seeing a picture on reddit of a page that had a gummy bear at the end of each paragraph. If you ask me, that's one of the best ways to study!

6) Clean your work area

Even the smallest little thing can become a distractor when your brain isn't cooperating. If you have post-it notes plastered everywhere, or if your desk still has vestiges of yesterday's lunch,
clean it up! Get rid of anything that could become a source distraction, even if it means removing family pictures.

Everyone has trouble concentrating...

50% of US employees say that they can work for 15 straight minutes before they get distracted, while 53% say they waste 1 hour or more being distracted during work hours.

7) Caffeine

Caffeine can make most people feel more alert and awake. Coffee is the most popular source of caffeine, but there are other drinks out there that can be even more effective than coffee, such as yerba mate. Have you tried it? It keeps me up and focused for hours.

8) Find out when you're more awake

We all have those times of the day in which we feel more "in the zone" or when concentration just seems to come easier. For me, evenings are usually my best time, while others prefer the morning. Find out what time works best for you and create your routine
around that time, if at all possible.

Save the repepetive tasks for when you have less energy.

Clean up your work area to stay focused.
Clean up your work area to stay focused. | Source

9) Eat right

There are foods that can be very heavy on our systems and drain us of any bit of energy we have left. It is easier to get distracted (and sleepy) after a heavy lunch, which leaves our brain vulnerable to any source of distraction, and resulting in complete loss of concentration.

10) Don't multitask

Do one thing at a time. Multitasking just makes it easier for your brain to lose focus. Every other activity you take on is like opening another window for distraction to come in. The more windows you have open, the easier it will be for distraction to enter your brain.

11) Sleep

Sleep is essential for your body to keep energized and alert. Lack of sleep can make you feel and act like a zombie. You can't think clearly, and your brain feels all fogged up, as if clouds were lingering in every corner. It's impossible to focus under those conditions.

If you want to stay focused, don't multitask.
If you want to stay focused, don't multitask. | Source

12) Divide big tasks into smaller ones

This method is useful for keeping you concentrating as well as for reducing stress. Instead of saying:

"I need to read this whole chapter."


"I need to read 5 paragraphs."

Reward yourself every time you finish a one of those small tasks.

13) Have everything ready

Think in advance of what you will need. For example, if I know I'm going to study, I gather everything I need before I actually sit down to study. So I grab my book, several pens of different colors, notebooks, highlighters, post-it notes and a cup of tea.

Every time you get up to get something you need, it's an opportunity for your brain to get distracted.

14) Train your mind

Sometimes you just won't be able to work under optimal circumstances. The solution? Train your brain to stay focused despite distractions. Do this exercise for 5 minutes a day, gradually increasing its duration as you see fit:

  • Turn on the TV
  • Turn on the radio
  • Play some youTube video
  • Sit down and read, and try your best to understand what you're reading.

Work on this exercise until you learn how to stay focused even if the world is falling apart.

Happy living!

Train your brain to work despite all the distractions, and you will be able to work anywhere!
Train your brain to work despite all the distractions, and you will be able to work anywhere! | Source


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    • profile image

      Manish 3 years ago

      That was indeed very thoughtful and beautiful, will bookmark this and keep on reading so that i remember all these point and will try to implement for better results. Thank you !

    • Silver Q profile image

      Silver Q 3 years ago

      Hey theBAT:

      You are right! Multitasking always ends up distracting us. Thank you for commenting and reading!

    • theBAT profile image

      theBAT 3 years ago

      Indeed, one disadvantage of "multi-tasking" is that it affects our focus. And one way of staying focused is to concentrate on a particular task at hand. Nice hub. Thanks.

    • Silver Q profile image

      Silver Q 3 years ago

      Hi swilliams:

      Yes, I like to clean my work area too. I feel like it cleans my brain and lets me concentrate better. Thank you for reading and commenting!

    • swilliams profile image

      Emunah La Paz 3 years ago from Arizona

      Very insightful article. I always feel better when I clean my work area, it's like having a fresh mind. And then... it gets dirty all over again a constant struggle but well worth the fight. Thanks For The Article!

    • Silver Q profile image

      Silver Q 3 years ago

      Hi Chuck:

      I know exactly what you mean! I get distracted while doing research as well. I wrote these tips for myself, but then I thought it would be a good idea to share them with anyone that might have a problem similar to mine. Thank you for reading and commenting!

    • Silver Q profile image

      Silver Q 3 years ago

      HI Millionaire Tips:

      Thank you so much for your kind words and for reading and commenting!

    • Silver Q profile image

      Silver Q 3 years ago

      Hey Aneegma:

      I love the headphone tactic! It's sooo effective. Thank you for reading!

    • Silver Q profile image

      Silver Q 3 years ago

      Hi Harishprasad:

      Yes, the mind can really be trained to do anything. Thank you so much for voting and commenting!

    • Silver Q profile image

      Silver Q 3 years ago

      Hi Ryan Oberoi:

      I'm glad you found something useful in this hub! Thank you for reading and commenting!

    • sam777777 profile image

      Satvinder S. Sihra 3 years ago from Queens, NY

      Wow! This article is amazing. I 'm going use these suggestions.

    • profile image

      KryssiNykki 3 years ago

      well this is perfect right now because i am trying to study and failing miserably lol. thank you for posting this - excellent hub ^.^

    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 3 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Concentration is difficult for so many people. Thanks for your tips to help with this problem. It seems more and more kids are struggling with it too. I love the healthy ways to help with it.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Congratulations for HOTD, for a well written article!

      These are excellent suggestions and useful to everyone. Voted up and shared!

    • Chuck profile image

      Chuck Nugent 3 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      Great Hub and it hits close to home for me as I am usually surrounded with distractions both at work and when working on writing my Hubs at home.

      One big distraction I struggle with when writing Hubs is getting sidetracked while doing research on a Hub. When doing research it is easy to get sidetracked on WikiPedia and similar sites by clicking on interesting links that take me in another direction. Online newspaper sites are another area full of distractions as they will have sidebars with links to articles on similar topics.

      In both cases, the topics linked to are both interesting and many offer potential for future Hub topics. In fact, a few dozen of my published Hubs are the result of ideas from links and articles I stumbled across while researching another Hub - and I have saved links to even more in my electronic folder of ideas for possible future Hubs.

      Thanks again for a great Hub and I have bookmarked it to keep it as a reminder to re-read whenever I find myself falling behind in work due to distractions.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

      Congrats on your Hub of the Day award for these great ideas on staying focused. We live in a world of distractions and using these tips would be useful to anyone.

    • nmcguire7 profile image

      Nicholl McGuire 3 years ago from Los Angeles County

      Awesome - simple yet a very important reminder to us all!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 3 years ago from USA

      Congratulations on HOTD. These are excellent suggestions! Worthy of printing out and putting on the bulletin board!

    • Aneegma profile image

      Merida Craze 3 years ago

      I use the headphones one and it works. Brilliant hub. Congrats on Hub of the Day.

    • Harishprasad profile image

      Harish Mamgain 3 years ago from India, New Delhi

      Many congrats, Silver Q for getting honor of " Hub of the Day " for this hub. The great tips suggested by you to instill concentration into our mind are really very helpful. The last tip is especially very interesting. Yes, we have to train our mind. I have seen some people perhaps so naturally trained that nothing whatsoever small or big can distract them once they are into something. Is that something to do with genes ? Nonetheless, mind can be trained to do or not to do anything. Really a great hub. Voted up. :-)

    • Ryan Oberoi profile image

      Ryan 3 years ago from Still on this beautiful planet

      Hi Silver Q :

      The point where you mentioned about dividing tasks is really working for me. Its not like i didn't know that earlier. but the Whole point that ' i'll read 5 paragraphs first ' and set a reward for that has been the major up-lifter.

    • Silver Q profile image

      Silver Q 4 years ago

      Hi DreamerMeg:

      Thank you for your kind words.

    • DreamerMeg profile image

      DreamerMeg 4 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Excellent hub with great info. Very useful.

    • Silver Q profile image

      Silver Q 4 years ago

      Hi Dbro:

      Thank you for your kind words. I agree; this world and its technology can drive us all crazy if we allow it. Turning things off, at least for a little while, turns out to be extremely helpful.

    • Silver Q profile image

      Silver Q 4 years ago

      Hi denise.w.anderson:

      That is a really good idea. Fifteen minute chunks seem definitely doable and a lot less daunting than thinking you have to do something for long periods of time. Thank you for commenting!

    • Silver Q profile image

      Silver Q 4 years ago

      Hi mathira:

      Thank you for your kind words and for commenting!

    • Silver Q profile image

      Silver Q 4 years ago


      Yes, I think we all need to stop multitasking. Try it and you'll see that your concentration will increase a lot!

    • Silver Q profile image

      Silver Q 4 years ago

      Hi lisavanvorst:

      I'm glad you found this article helpful! I know what you mean about stress and concentration. It's hard,but following some of these tips will help you to focus better! Thank you for reading and commenting!

    • lisavanvorst profile image

      Lisa VanVorst 4 years ago from New Jersey

      Great informative article. Some days my concentration level is horrible. I see from your article why. Look forward to more good article. I try to get enough sleep, however my eating habits are horrible. When I am stressed is why focusing is the hardest. Thanks for the advice.

    • Dbro profile image

      Dbro 4 years ago from Texas, USA

      Great hub, Silver Q. All of the suggestions you make seem very doable and helpful in getting a person to concentrate on a task. I think the modern, technologically driven world makes us all easily distracted. For this reason, I probably think suggestion number 2 is the most effective for a majority of us. Also, I love the photo for "multitasking" - just too funny!

      Thanks for the great advice, though my lack of focus is what lead me to your hub in the first place! :)

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 4 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      Dividing tasks into 15 minute chunks works real well for me and helps me to focus on the task at hand. That way, I am able to avoid distractions, because I am varying my tasks after each 15 minutes. If I don't do it this way, I loose interest and get really distracted!

    • mathira profile image

      mathira 4 years ago from chennai

      Inspiring suggestions.Focus can make you successful in all your endeavors.

    • techygran profile image

      Cynthia 4 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

      What great suggestions! I'm going to look at implementing at least a couple of these (maybe the one about not multitasking)! Sharing!