Mind-Stimulating Tips to Stay Focused and Sharp

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If you're having trouble staying focused, try these simple tips!

Some days, it feels like there’s just so much going on. When my day fills up, it can sometimes make it hard to stay focused. Which is so frustrating, considering how much I really need to focus! Funny how that works, right?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work when I just tell my brain it’s time to focus. In fact, I think it might make it even more difficult. I’m sitting there trying to motivate myself, and meanwhile, my mind is going, “oh, squirrel!”

Sound familiar?

We live in a digital age where distractions are everywhere. All the constant stimulation certainly hasn’t done any favors for our attention spans, either. So what can you do if you really need to focus, but your mind won’t stop wandering?

If you are having a hard time keeping on task, there are a few things you can do to help stay focused. Check out these simple tips for ways to stay focused and sharp!

Get Rid of All Those Distractions

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No one wants to hear it, but you have too many things going on at one time. You need to get rid of distractions if you want to improve your focus. They can and will pull your focus in a million different directions. I don’t know about you, but not only does this hurt my attention span, but it also makes my brain feel extra tired and fuzzy from jumping from thought to thought. That’s because your brain is still engaging with everything around you, even if you aren’t doing it consciously.

Clearly, it would be impossible to eliminate any and all distractions. But, you can make an effort to reduce them as much as you can, within reason.

If you are in an environment with other people, ask those around you not to distract you for a period of time. And if applicable, close the door. If you are actually in a public space, like a coffee shop, good-quality headphones or even earplugs might be required.

Turn off the TV. And while you’re at it, you need to turn off any notifications on your phone – or turn your phone off altogether. If music with lyrics is too distracting, you might focus better with classical or other instrumental music instead.

Stay Away From Social Media

I know I already mentioned getting rid of distractions, but social media is such a big distraction that it gets its own mention. Social media is the biggest time-suck out there because it is so distracting. We are using our brains when we give our attention to social media. It breaks our focus and basically forces us to pay attention to a bunch of other (non-important) information.

The next time you get the itch to open a new tab and head to Facebook, just don’t do it. If that is easier said than done, there are several apps out there that will block social media and even other distractions like YouTube or Netflix. Popular ones include AppBlock, Freedom, FocusMe, and Focus.

Caffeine in Moderation

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Look, I love coffee. Like, I really, really love the stuff. In fact, I wrote an entire article about all the health benefits of coffee. There’s more in that cup of joe than just caffeine!

One of those benefits? The caffeine in coffee is a brain booster. Of course, anyone who drinks coffee or other caffeinated beverages already knows that. But it’s worth mentioning that caffeine leads to a feel-good stimulant effect in your brain, which in turn improves overall mental function.

The key here, though, is moderation. Whether you’re getting your caffeine intake from coffee, tea, or any other sources, you should do it in small doses. This way, the caffeine will have a positive impact on your ability to focus. Drinking too much caffeine at once might just leave you feeling anxious or nervous. That could reduce your ability to stay focused, which is the opposite of what we want.

Drink Plenty of Water

Staying hydrated is incredibly important when it comes to maintaining effective bodily functioning. This also includes your brain! The human brain is composed of about 73% water, after all.

Feeling fatigued and losing focus could be a sign that you are dehydrated. It makes you feel less energetic and diminishes your ability to hold your focus. Dehydration can also affect your blood pressure, and decreased blood flow to the brain can hurt its ability to do its job, too.

So, drink more water! Even if you think you’re already hydrating enough, drink a little more. If you start to get bored with plain water, you can always add fresh fruit or herbs for flavor. Unsweetened (or naturally flavored) sparkling water is a healthy way to get some bubbles. Or, if you prefer something hot, unsweetened tea is always a great option.

Eat Brain-Boosting Foods

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Hunger can be seriously distracting. But I need to warn you not to reach for all those salty, sugary snacks. Those prepackaged snacks might be really easy – especially if you have a vending machine nearby – but nothing causes a crash quite like junk food. While it may give you an initial boost, it leads to a quick crash that could leave your brain feeling fuzzy.

To help your brain stay sharp, you need food that will give you a lasting boost of energy. Look for healthy foods that include minimally processed ingredients, healthy fats, and lean proteins. Here are a few great brain-boosters:

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fatty fish, like salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, and trout
  • Berries
  • Leafy greens, like kale, spinach, broccoli, and collards
  • Beans and legumes
  • Eggs
  • Lean protein, like skinless white meat poultry, lean beef, and pork loin

And I feel like it goes without saying, but don’t skip meals. Skipping meals can cause your blood sugar levels to eventually drop. This is definitely no good when you’re trying to keep your mind in tip-top shape!

Set a Timer

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When you’re looking at the bigger picture, it can be difficult to focus on one task at a time. Lots of things that need to get done, one giant task, or even just extended periods of time, can feel overwhelming or even distracting. To hold your interest and increase your ability to focus, try setting a timer.

Developed in the late 1980s, the Pomodoro Technique was originally developed for studying. It is a time management method that breaks work into intervals separated by short breaks. More on those breaks in a second.

Test this method and see if it helps improve your focus. Set a timer for 20 or 25 minutes, and use that allotted time to focus on a single task. Once the timer goes off, take a short break. Once your break is over, set the timer again, and get back to the task at hand (or a new task).

Take Plenty of Breaks

I know that it sounds a little counterproductive, but you need to take breaks to get stuff done. As much as we would all love to be super productive from start to finish, we aren’t robots. Humans just weren’t built to be like that. Our brains need breaks, and plenty of ‘em.

That means actually taking your lunch when at work. Do not work through lunch breaks, and don’t even eat lunch at your desk. You need to recharge your battery so that you can stay focused for the rest of the day.

On top of lunch breaks, you should also be taking other small breaks for yourself throughout the day. It could look like a walk down the hall to grab a snack, or stepping outside for a quick breath of fresh air. Even just standing up for a few to stretch your legs is better than nothing.

Get a Good Night’s Sleep

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I am willing to bet that you are not getting enough sleep. It seems to be a common thread these days with just about everyone I know. It’s time for us to all admit it, because that’s the first step toward fixing something.

Not getting enough sleep is linked to a whole host of problems, from weakening your immune system to depression, and even heart attacks and strokes. It is also hurting your mind’s ability to function. All that lack of sleep is trashing your memory, alertness, and ability to focus.

There are plenty of reasons we are not getting enough sleep, so fixing the problem will look different for everyone. To start, take a good look at your bedtime routine – and if you do not have one, there’s your first issue! Adding one of these three teas to your nighttime ritual could help you catch some Zs. Plus, these are some common mistakes that could be keeping you up at night.

However, what if it’s your anxious mind that is keeping you up at night? I can’t suggest meditation enough for anxious individuals. It obviously won’t cure anything, but it can definitely help!

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