Tuesday Ten: Tips to Improve Your Focus

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Let’s face it: There are bound to be days where your brain just doesn’t want to cooperate. You try to write a blog post…you hop on Pinterest instead. You need to respond to important emails…you end up Instagramming. With endless outlets for distraction in our modern world, it seems that staying on task is becoming more challenging by the minute. For those times that concentration is just not on your side, there are (luckily) a few tricks you can try to get your mind back on track. Below are 10 tips that will keep you refreshed and feeling productive…

  1. Take a walk. 
    There are so many benefits that can come from simply taking a walk when you’ve hit a mental speed bump. I have recommended walking the block as a way to stay active in the office. But in addition to burning a few calories, going for a stroll can leave you feeling refreshed and ready to get back to the task at hand.
  2. Turn on the tunes. 
    According to Everyday Health, taking a little break to listen to music can actually help your body produce chemicals that can boost your mood. If you’re feeling tired and sluggish, throw on your headphones and listen to a pump up song that will make you feel upbeat. If you’re feeling stressed and down, listen to something soothing. Just make sure the music doesn’t distract you further—limit it to one or two songs.
  3. Socialize.
    It’s easy to get carried away with socializing when you’re in need of a break. But if you have been studying alone for hours or haven’t stepped away from your desk all day, having a little social interaction might be what you need to get back on track. Call your family when you’re walking the block (two birds with one stone!). Or chat around the water cooler with your coworkers. Taking a few minutes to engage with actual people—not computers—will have you feeling more focused when you go back to your desk.
  4. Hydrate.
    Drinking enough water throughout the day is key if you want to think clearly for hours on end. In reverse, being dehydrated will leave you with a headache and make you feel groggy. If you get bored of water, add a few pieces of fresh fruit to your h2o or sip on herbal tea. Need further convincing? A recent study from King’s College in London revealed that being thirsty can decrease productivity by 10 percent and even weaken hand/eye coordination. Drink up, ladies!
  5. Soak up the sun.
    If you’re feeling unfocused and sleepy, you may just need a little vitamin D, otherwise known as sunshine. According to an article on Refinery29, sunlight stops the production of melatonin and even a little exposure to natural light can prevent you from feeling tired. Spend your lunch break eating by a window or take an outdoor study break for a dose of mental clarity.
  6. Make a to-do list.
    Getting your tasks organized and prioritized is one of the best ways to focus your energy into projects that matter. But while writing down all of your to-dos is a great strategy, what’s more important is to write down goals that are realistic. If you have a long day ahead of you, I suggest making two different to-do lists: The first should be all of the tasks that must get done that day, and the second can be longer term objectives that you might be able to tackle once everything else has been completed. This will help you to zero-in on what you should really be focusing on.
  7. Turn it off.
    Simple as this: If you need to get something done on your computer, turn off your phone for a few hours. If you’re cramming for finals but you keep seeing emails pop up on your laptop, put your computer on sleep and move it to another room. This out-of-sight-out-of-mind trick totally works… According to Forbes, knowing when to turn certain distractions off will instantly recharge you. And, trust me, there will always be time to see the latest photo on Facebook or text your friends back.
  8. Choose super foods.
    I am a big fan of super foods like berries, walnuts, spinach and avocados. Not only can they make your hair silky and your skin clear, they are also proven to help your brain perform memory tasks and cognitive functioning. Huffington Post reports that going on a “brain diet” by eating these super foods can improve blood flow to the brain and regulate your blood pressure. When you feel like you’re hitting a mental block, grab a handful of blueberries or whip up a spinach salad. (Major bonus for all you latte lovers: Coffee makes it on the list of mental super foods!)
  9. Create an inspiring space.
    Personally, I need my surroundings to be beautiful and inviting in order to be inspired to work. Feeling stir crazy and uninspired is a recipe for becoming entirely unfocused. If you work in a cubicle, set a colorful bouquet of flowers atop your desk and pin photos to your walls. (Click here for some inspired ideas to makeover your workspace.) Likewise, if you are trying to log in a productive day of studying, opt for a library with a view or go to a quaint coffee shop.
  10. Stretch.
    Stretching your body will promote blood flow to your brain and limbs, which will help you to concentrate. Even alternating between standing and sitting during the day helps to keep your body alert. Try swapping out your desk chair with an exercise ball or investing in a standing desk.

Do you have any tips that help you to concentrate?

Leave them in the comments below so other LaurenConrad.com members can try them out too.

XO Lauren

Photo: Anna Palma for Fashion Gone Rogue
Source: Everyday Health, NY Times, iVillage, Refinery29, Forbes, Huffington Post
Categories: Grow, Tuesday Ten
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  • OLJC

    I’m a master’s student and facebook/pinterest make it VERY hard to get anything done, haha. Happy Tuesday!

    Check out my blog at:
    oljcwanderlust.blogspot.com

    xo’s

  • Ashley

    These are all fantastic ideas, and who couldn’t use a little pick-me-up from time to time? :) http://dreamliveandrepeat.blogspot.com/

  • Monica_in_Heels
  • Claudia Medrano

    Oh I so agree! I’ve been slammed with school work this week and have moved through each of these suggestions at one point or other.

    Something else that helps is to dress comfortably without wearing PJ. If I know my work will have me sitting in one spot for enough time to have more than one meal, I won’t wear jeans or fitted tops because they can feel stiff and constricting after a while. On the other hand, I can’t do the oversize hoodie look when I’m trying to focus. All that bulk makes me feel uncomfortable and slows down motion as I move between books, bag, and laptop.

    Sometimes – and that’s a big sometimes – it helps to have people around me who are also focused because it creates a sense of accountability and camaraderie between a group that has the same goals of productivity.

  • Marie Fournier
  • Deanne Castro

    These are must-try tips! Thanks for shairng!

    For more on fashion and beauty, please check out my blog: http://myfashavenue.com/ Today’s post: How you can transform your casual look from Flirty-Chic to Edgy-Chic

    Follow me on Twitter and Pinterst: @MyFashAvenue

    xo
    Deanne

  • Rachel Trampel

    I think my boyfriend would like me to try out these tips ;) Sometimes I get distracted when he is talking to me, lol. But these are really great tips and are great for people about to take finals!

    Wondering how to wear a floral blazer? See how I styled mine on the blog today! http://www.rachelslookbook.com

  • Ashley Rizzardo

    Great tips! I will be sure to remember #5. Studying in dorms during the winter was pretty much the worst. No sun and little focus. When it got warmer and we started studying in the park, I felt so much more relaxed and motivated.

    http://allthatglitters.co.nr

  • Heather P.

    Great post! I find that listening to music while I work is the best thing for me (mostly because I work from home most of the time). When I can’t do that, I make sure to take a short break each hour, whether it’s to take a quick walk, stretch, or just goof off on Facebook for a few minutes. :-)

  • Mary – The Classy Cubicle

    Really great tips! I have the hardest time with “”turning it off”” but when I force myself to do it, man am I productive!

    xxoo,
    Mary
    http://www.theclassycubicle.com

    .

  • hooleywithaz

    oh my goodness, i just wrote a post about how bad i am with this when trying to do translation work or homework (i’m a spanish-english translator in my spare time if anyone needs my skills!). these are great tips if you make them work for you!
    http://hooleywithaz.com/anatomy-of-a-translation/

  • Vicky

    I love that I woke up to this email/blog post. I’ve been struggling at work to put my phone away and get busy! It’s so hard because I constantly want to be texting or something to de-stress a little during my work day. This is SUCH a great post! Thank you :)

    And I couldn’t think of anything you didn’t already mention in the post. I usually try to guzzle water or get up and move a little. I’m definitely a planner, as well, so lists are all over my desk. My favorite one is just to decorate your desk/room and let it be your muse. That’s what I’ve done!

  • megan magers

    oh my goodness i love/needed this! i am so guilty of losing focus, or rather attempting to give my focus to five different things and ultimately neglecting all five! i learned in psychology courses that theres no such thing as multi tasking because you are not actually giving any task the attention it takes to complete it effectively and efficiently. but these tips totally make it more of a possibility to complete my to-do list because if we truly focus on each individual item, we can complete everything in no time. With spring here, a walk and phone call to family sounds perfect plus drinking lots of water and creating an inspiring space is key too. thanks for sharing!! im going to hit the gym and start my day now! xo

    http://myotherclosetiscouture.blogspot.com

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  • Rachel

    Love taking walk breaks!!

    Rachel
    theoxfordstyle.com

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  • Camille

    This post came at, like, the PERFECT time because it’s Finals Week!

    http://www.camillenochaser.blogspot.com

  • Renuka

    what an informative post! I like the fact that several items on this list involve improving your health and well-being in the process!

    http://www.pocketfulofperspective.tumblr.com

  • Rafael Centenera

    this is ALL CENT DOG (O) Yes! …Mahalo

  • Cassie Bananas

    i really like this post-full of really useful information-thanks!

  • Denisse md

    When i have a lot of CT’s or MRI’s to look at i just turn my ipod on an put my earphones, i get lost in my work and music for so long that when i can recall, I’m almost all ready done!, believe me is a great idea especially if you need to get like really focussed on something, especially studying!!

  • AnselSf

    I would also recommend that if you need to write something in your computer, you gather and download everything you’re going to need, then turn off your router, modem or the wireless button on your computer. Let’s face it, “”only one”” video of The Ellen de Genres Show actually means like 435. :p

  • AnselSf

    I am also an English-Spanish (and viceversa) translator, and the same thing happens to me all-the-time! Wowowow…

  • Leanne

    Such great tips.

    Love from South Africa

    http://arumlilea.blogspot.com

  • constantsouffle.com

    I go for a bike ride with my pups!

    http://www.constantsouffle.com

  • Rebecca Kelsey Sampson

    My surroundings really make or break me. Right now my environment isn’t the best for focus but I’m working on improving it soon.

    Kindness is the best accessory,
    Rebecca

  • Kelley {Keep Sitting Pretty}

    I’ve used each of these tips at least once! Great list.

    XO Kelley
    http://www.keepsittingpretty.com

  • Lily P.

    Such a helpful and great post Lauren!
    I loved it so much,thanks!
    xo Lily

  • pmdavies91

    I like put on load music and make a hot drink, usually coffee. I can then focus more or less instantly, even when I’ve spent ages staring at a blank screen/paper pad.

    I like in a one bedroom flat, so don’t have a work space. So, the other day, I made a flat pack office using various white/cork boards. It sounds silly but I’ve already found it really helps me focus and find inspiration.

    Some good tips on here though. I’ll probably make a note of them to remind me how to focus in the future.

    Paul
    http://www.riseaboveaverage.blogspot.com

  • Dazzlerama24

    Hello Ladies! I’m starting my own YouTube channel and would love for some comments on things that you want to see! let me know in my Welcome video by commenting below!
    Dazzlerama24 :)

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  • Melissa mould

    these are great tips for a working lady and I really agree. I also love the pink jumper <3

    Taking a walk really helps

    Mel x
    http://instagram.com/mediamarmalade/

  • Tiffani Stuart

    I really wish I could change my work environment! I work in a place that the decor is pretty much decided FOR me. I have very little say in the way I want to decorate my office & it sucks! It’s not drab by any means (I work a foster care & adoption agency, so everything is COLORFUL!) But it still doesn’t say “”Tiffani Works Here””… I wish I had my own office.

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  • Harmony

    I work 14-16 hour days with only 2 15 minute breaks. I recommend walking at a race walk speed and hydrating. Protein snacks are essential. I do not use any social media during working hours or check my phone.

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  • http://taty-in-newyork.blogspot.de tatystrahlendberg

    I really believe that turning off social networks helps wonders! You always think that you are missing something, when really you are only sitting in front of it in boredom :) That decision helped me a lot! http://taty-in-newyork.blogspot.de

  • http://thebookcharacter.blogspot.com/ Marissa S

    These are all great tips! I have started sitting on an exercise ball lately when I need to work on school that way I am at my desk and sitting up straighter instead of slouching into my bed or at a dining room chair. I love the concept of a standing desk! I have actually been using a makeshift standing desk today before I even read this post :D As well as taking brief breaks to stretch and move around so I feel more alert.

  • http://www.sararussellinteriors.com/ Sara Russell

    Great ideas! I use many of these! I always have flowers in a short vase on my desk too :)

    xx sara
    http://www.sararussell.ca

  • <3 Julie

    I love these ideas as well! Another great idea is go for a run. Running for me relieves a lot of stress and a much needed break from work. Also maybe call up an old friend or familu member to catch up, I know for me its a refresher as well. Hope these help! Have a great day everyone.

  • http://www.smart-twenties.com/ Samantha Brown

    These are great ideas! My favourite way to increase my focus is by making sure I have lots of breaks otherwise I just end up scrolling aimlessly through Instagram when I should be studying!

    I like to use the pomodoro method: you choose one task to focus on for 25 minutes (one ‘pomodoro’) and then have a 5 minute break. Once you’ve completed 4 pomodoros (with four 5 minute breaks) you have a longer break (about 20-30 mins). This helps me so much with study because I find that I have such a short attention span (especially when I’m doing something boring) so aiming for 25 minutes of focus is so much more achievable than trying to study for 3 hours straight!

    And if I need a bit of extra motivation ill do a quick at home work out during my longer break just to get me feeling alive. I’ve been loving the ‘pump up’ app – it’s free and it gives you awesome customised workout plans even when you don’t have any equipment you can use! Loving it!

    Sam xx
    http://www.smart-twenties.com – how to make the most of your twenties

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