While the lack of focus may be caused by some medical conditions in some people, a good number of people who just can’t focus on activities don’t experience it as a health issue. For the people in the latter category, understanding the reasons for their inability to focus can be a first step in the right direction to getting help. When the reasons for the inability to focus are identified, you can go on to find ways to get help.
Being unable to focus on activities can show up differently in various people. While in some people, it shows up as making careless mistakes and not remembering how things were, for some others, it’s the difficulty to stay still and the inability to think clearly. Simple things such as having a wandering mind while working on activities, missing appointments and deadlines, being distracted from work and people or just being absent at a particular time of the day. Here are some of the major reasons why you can’t seem to focus.
1. Experiencing tiredness and lack of sleep
If at most times, you feel stressed, foggy, blurry-eyed and dependent on coffee, then that’s proof that you’re too tired to work and need to have more sleep. Sleep is very important as it gives the opportunity to recharge the brain cells and exercise neuronal connections. There’s a direct link between sleep deprivation and impaired cognitive function. This further proves that your working memory and cognitive speed can be affected when you don’t get enough sleep.
Not getting the right amount of sleep – an average of six to eight hours daily – will affect your body functions, and your mind is where it begins. It’ll be very difficult to stay focused when your brain is tired.
2. Not getting rid of distractions
More than half of the activities and devices we have around today are major distractions, even when we don’t realize. From computers, constantly beeping phones and TVs that are always in the background, we’re subconsciously pulled away from activities that we’re meant to focus on.
One downside of the tech age is how we’ve allowed these devices and the internet to not only play into our conversations and interactions with other people, but with our personal work. Hardly can we go a few straight hours without the need to check our phones just to be in the know.
To stay more focused, we need to make more conscious efforts to stay away from social media, devices, and even people.
3. Dealing with too many tasks at once
Multitasking can sabotage your productivity. There are times when multitasking is totally required. However, going overboard with multitasking can prevent you from staying focused. In the first place, working on multiple tasks at once can force you to work faster than you usually will and lead to a higher level of frustration and stress.
You can streamline your tasks to the most important and urgent, the ones that can wait for a bit, and those that you don’t necessarily need to be worked on. Following this scale of preference can help focus more on the important things.
4. Not having a good plan to work with
Having a good plan to work with is just as important as the task itself. When you want to focus on a particular subject, you need a viable plan to work with. This is important because having a concrete plan shows you what you need to concentrate on at different points in time.
Focusing on one step is way easier than focusing on the whole project which can be overwhelming.
5. Having no enthusiasm for the work you have to do
One major factor that a lot of people forget is that the enthusiasm to work on whatever thing you have in front of you is important to focus on. Most times, your brain will look for ways to focus on the tasks that you find interesting. This way your lack of focus turns to procrastination.
One way to fix this is to take your ‘dreaded’ activity bit-by-bit or find a way to make it interesting enough to work on.
6. ADHD and other related chronic medical conditions
Your lack of focus can also be as a result of an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or other medical conditions that cause you not to focus on tasks, even when you want to. If you find it difficult to follow instructions, get irritated easily, and have trouble relaxing and prioritizing tasks, they could be characteristics of ADHD.
If prescription drugs are not your thing, try Nootropics to alleviate ADHD naturally.
7. Not identifying the specific goal you’re trying to reach
Do you go around filing your checklists with tasks, without knowing the goals you’re trying to reach with each of them? That can be a reason why you’re finding it hard to stay focused on the tasks. While you’re working on each task, your brain is unsure about why you’re doing what you’re doing. It may also be that you don’t know so much about the subject in hand that you don’t know where to look.
Hence, before you focus on tasks that you have in hand, pinpoint the specific problem you’re trying to solve. If you go into the tasks with only a general or vague overview, you’ll find it hard to focus on them.
Asides from the above-mentioned, there are a number of different reasons that you might be finding it hard to focus. The important thing to remember is that identifying the cause is a first step to getting better. If you feel you need medical attention, talk to an expert about it. If not, follow the suggestions made for each reason.
Namni Goel, Hengyi Rao, Jeffrey S. Durmer, David F. Dinges; Neurocognitive Consequences of Sleep Deprivation (2009) https://www.thieme-connect.com/products/ejournals/abstract/10.1055/s-0029-1237117
What is ADHD? (n.d.).aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Resource_Centers/ADHD_Resource_Center/ADHD_A_Guide_for_Families/What_is_ADHD.aspx
What Constant Exposure to Negative News Is Doing To Our Mental Health (2015) https://www.huffpost.com/entry/violent-media-anxiety_n_6671732
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