Focusing can be hard, especially if there are many distractions around you. However, there are probably more distractions than you realize around you. Here are 5 underrated distractions and what you can do to fix them to improve your focus.
1. Think About the Temperature
A work environment that’s too hot or too cold is a distraction even if you don’t realize it. If you’re too hot your mind wanders and thinks about how hot it is. If you’re too cold you start thinking about ways to get warm and lose track of the task you were doing.
Manage your ambient temperature
- Why is it a problem? Being too cold or too hot can distract you physically and preoccupy your mind with the temperature itself
- The fix: Set the thermostat to somewhere between 68-77 degrees Fahrenheit, as a comfortable temperature allows your mind to focus completely on your work
Here’s how to fix the problem:
Set the thermostat to somewhere between 68-77 degrees. According to Cornell University (1), that’s a good range to help increase focus. However, according to the Helsinki University of Technology, the perfect temperature might actually be 71 degrees (2).
2. Get Rid of Street Noise
The sirens, the honking, the rain, or any extra noise around you can be a distraction.
Get rid of it!
Play some music to get you pumped up and motivate you to get some work done. A study done by the Wake Forest School of Medicine and the University of North Carolina (3) says that music helps you focus better.
There’s a catch:
You have to like the music you’re listening to! Apparently listening to songs you don’t like is an even bigger distraction.
If you don’t like listening to music while you work, turn on some background noise. White noise or brown noise are common choices.
Avoid “distracting” noises
Why is it a problem? Noise can be overstimulating, causing you to become distracted and unable to focus
The fix: Listening to music or comforting sounds can re-engage your brain, helping you to focus
A study in the Journal of Consumer Research found that high levels of noise can actually impair thinking (4). They concluded that a consistent level of ambient noise will increase creativity.
The Harvard Business Review says that background noise will mute distractions (5).
The biggest distraction of all?
Hearing conversations you aren’t supposed to. So make sure you’re working somewhere quiet, or, use noise-canceling headphones.
3. Take Frequent, Short Breaks
Trying to get something done by working for hours straight can actually make you do a worse job at the task than if you took breaks. A study done by the University of Illinois found that workers that took short breaks during a 50-minute task performed better than the other workers that didn’t have any breaks (6).
Here’s the best way to take breaks:
Try to take a short break every hour. Get up and walk around and stretch your legs. Let your mind wander to other things besides the task at hand. This way your body and mind will get a break and be ready to jump back on board.
Work for shorter periods of time
Why is it a problem? Working for lengthy periods of time can be draining and cause your focus to dwindle, especially if you get easily taxed by long or large tasks
The fix: Take a short break every hour to give yourself a moment to recharge
When you give your mind permission to wander outside of work, it can make work easier to get through.
4. Ditch Your Cell Phone
Your cellphone is a distraction. Chances are your cellphone is right next to you when you’re trying to get something done. When your phone rings, an app notification pops up, or you get an email, that can pull you out of what you’re doing. You tell yourself not to look at your phone, that it can wait, but oftentimes you give in and check your phone. Before you know it, you’re on Instagram.
Turn your phone off!
Put your phone away
Why is it a problem? Phones are huge concentration breakers--they make noise, provide easy distractions, and can pull your mind away from the task at hand
The fix: By turning off your phone or putting it in another room, you’ll be free from distractions and be able to focus without interruption
Don’t let your phone be a distraction. You’ll be surprised at how much quicker you’re able to get things done without your cellphone around. Put it on silent, disable notifications, or simply leave the phone in another room.
5. Moderate Your Caffeine Intake
Too much caffeine can overstimulate you and make it harder to focus because your mind is racing. However, a small dose of caffeine can increase your focus!
Here’s the funny thing:
The less caffeine you drink, the better it works. In fact, the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease has found a connection between smaller doses of caffeine and cognition (7).
Improve your quality of sleep
Why is it a problem? When you’re tired, it can be a chore to focus, let alone complete your work, resulting in feelings of boredom and anxiety
The fix: Evaluate your sleeping habits and consider a caffeine boost as the stimulating supplement can increase physiological arousal, giving you energy to push through drowsiness
When it comes to stimulants, the more you take, the greater your tolerance becomes. Training your body to get more out of less is key when it comes to things like caffeine.
So instead of drinking coffee all day long, savor your first cup and cut back on the amount--you’d be surprised to see the difference
There are many more ways to get your brain to focus better. However, these 5 ways are sure to help you get things done.
So put your phone aside, set the thermostat, and get to work!