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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
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  • LouJ.Ann

    Thanks for the post, I really enjoyed it.

  • Janet B.

    I have two things that helped me. One is a word search game that is timed, it even trains you to help you get better, and gets progressively harder. I have a Kindle Fire and this game was a Kindle app. It promotes itself as improving your ability to focus. It has really helped. I play it for at least a few games every day. In the beginning, I felt my time score was horrible(there is no way to tell, because I do not compete), but my time has gotten better….by more than double, now almost triple. Then because I am scoring like that, the game gets harder and my score drops some. It is actually more fun than regular word searches because of the timed element. The second thing I have tried and mostly been successful with, is to avoid refined sugar. I use honey & real maple syrup sometimes, but I use stevia in my coffee and tea. I put Simply Fruit fruit spread which is only fruit (yeah, Smuckers) on zero calorie Greek yogurt, reading labels and not buying anything with corn syrup…..this is really hard because it is everywhere. I also try to watch for hidden sugars by names I never knew before…google or you can use Pinterest to find out all kinds of things like that. I am making breakfast bars with nuts, fruit, seeds, flax meal, coconut oil, whole wheat flour, unsweetened applesauce, and many other ingredients that are good for me. I am trying to kick most of my bad choice food habits to the curb. I had just gotten lazy when I worked seven days a week and was too tired to come home and cook. I have been open to trying things like quinoa, which I really like, and lentils(excellent). This all boils down to better nutrition.