If you struggle with distractibility and focus, you likely want to know how to overcome the issue. It interferes with every part of your life, holding up the progress toward your goals. Even when you know it’s holding you up, it can be hard to resist distractions.
Many people get distracted by their phones, so it’s hard to escape things that pull your focus away from your task. Everyone seems to have their phone nearby and within reach even when they’re busy with other things. It’s hard to stay focused on anything else with nonstop notifications, text messages, emails, video games, and so much more.
There are also many other distractions surrounding you, including your stress levels. When stressed, it might seem like your mind is racing, creating distractibility. Plus, things like cravings, the weather, and other people can cause distractions, too.
Studies show that the mind wanders for nearly 50% of your waking hours, making it hard for you to focus. Luckily, you can make some changes to reduce distractibility and refocus attention. A few brain exercises might be all it takes to refocus your wandering mind.
Ten Exercises to Help Reduce Distractibility and Refocus Attention
When you first hear the word exercise, you likely think of physical activity. However, mindful exercises are the way to go regarding reducing distractibility and refocusing attention. Training your brain to stay on track can be life-changing, helping you accomplish more and go further.
1. Mindfulness Training Decreases Distractibility
Mindfulness training is the best way to control the distractions around you and in your mind. Research indicates that mindfulness training is helpful for people in high-stress groups.
Additionally, those who regularly practiced mindfulness training experienced improved attention over time. It helps you remain stable and focused, even when things go wrong.
However, the people who didn’t practice mindfulness training experienced a decline in distractibility when they experienced stress. They struggled to push away distracting thoughts and ignore external factors that caused them to lose focus.
Mindfulness training requires that you pay attention to the present moment. You focus on starting aware without letting your emotions distract you. As you practice mindfulness training, aim for at least fifteen minutes a day, five days a week, for the best results.
The more time you spend, the more benefits you’ll experience. You might not see a difference right away, but it’ll come with time and practice. An essential thing to remember when practicing mindfulness is to return wandering thoughts to the task at hand.
2. Single-task instead of multitasking
Multitasking sounds like a great idea, but it won’t get you very far. Your brain can’t do multiple things simultaneously, so you believe multitasking is just switching tasks quickly. You lose productivity each time you switch jobs because it hinders your focus.
Instead of doing multiple things at once, list everything you must do. Then, prioritize your list and start doing things one at a time.
In between each task, you can reward yourself by checking your phone or getting another cup of coffee. Your goal should be to avoid these distractions during the job, so rewarding yourself afterward can help.
3. Get enough sleep to lessen distractibility
Life gets busy, and it’s easy to assume you’ll function well with little to no sleep. However, distractions will be hard to ignore if you don’t get enough sleep each night. Your brain will struggle to concentrate on one thing, and everything around you will pull your thoughts from your task.
Try to get at least seven hours of sleep each night to reduce distractibility and refocus your attention. With more rest, you’ll find that you get more done during the day, evening out the extra time you spent asleep.
4. Open monitoring
Open monitoring is mindfulness training that helps you pay attention to the world without becoming attached. Instead of latching onto a specific object or person, you remain open to any experience. You will embrace every situation and allow it to happen without overthinking or overprocessing first.
You’ll want to sit comfortably when you first start practicing open monitoring. Then, focus on your thoughts, sensations, and emotions, but don’t hold onto them.
Instead, name the feeling and then release it. Making the conscious choice to remove feelings and thoughts helps you stay focused on the essential parts of your life.
5. Listen to music
Background music can help you stay focused on your tasks. Music can help your brain release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that entices happiness. When you’re happy, it’s easier to concentrate and push away distractions.
You don’t have to play classical music quietly, either. If you’re up for it, you can turn it up louder than background music and listen to your favorite songs until you feel like you can focus again.
6. Body scanning can lessen distractibility
A body scan directs your thoughts to specific things, helping you train your brain to focus on one thing at a time. Start this brain exercise by concentrating on your toes and taking note of the sensations you feel. Acknowledge that you experience tightness, tingling, warmth, cold, or anything else.
After your toes, move on to the soles of your feet, your legs, stomach, chest, and so on. Continue your focus up your body, only thinking of one part at a time. As you get better at focusing on one aspect at a time, you’ll begin to handle distractions much better.
7. Mindful breathing
Mindful breathing is a brain exercise that increases your ability to focus on one thing at a time. Start by sitting in a comfortable but upright position to do this focused attention exercise. Then, focus your thoughts on your breathing.
As you focus on your breathing, think about how it feels or what it does to your body. You could think about the cool air coming in and out of your nostrils or how your abdomen moves. Focus on any aspect of the breathing process, but ensure it’s tied to a sensory experience.
Don’t get frustrated if your mind wanders as you focus on breathing. Instead, acknowledge the thought and then refocus on your breathing. It’s normal for the ideas to creep in, and the more you practice, the easier it will become to push them away.
By gently redirecting your thoughts back to your breathing, you teach yourself to ignore distractions. Practice this exercise daily, and it’ll quickly start helping in your daily life.
8. Ease stress to lower distractibility
It’s hard to focus on something when you’re overwhelmed with stress. If you want to decrease distractibility, find ways to cope with stress and eliminate it from your life. One way to burn stress is through physical activity, but there are other ways, too, including:
- Deep breathing techniques
- Hugging a loved one
- Finding a creative outlet
- Positive affirmations
- Expressing gratitude
- Progressive muscle relaxation
- Getting some fresh air and basking in the sun
- Counting backward
- Stretching or yoga
- Closing your eyes for a few minutes
- Squeezing a stress ball
- Organizing your space
- Finding something to laugh about
- Writing in a journal
9. Start with a small and simple goal
Spend some time thinking about what a reasonable goal is for you. Then, cut that goal in half and use what you come up with as your first milestone. Set a timeframe so you’re more motivated to keep going and accomplish your goal on time.
Starting with small goals gives you a break to look forward to at a specific time. You’ll want to keep pushing to get it done, allowing you to focus and ignore distraction. When you make a habit of working this way, it’ll become easier to resist the distraction.
10. Mindful Walking
Like mindful breathing, mindful walking requires focusing on one thing at a time. However, you’ll walk around rather than sit still as you focus.
As you walk, pay attention to how your feet feel on the ground or the breeze against your skin. Listen for the sounds all around you as you walk through nature, too.
You can focus on whichever sensation you want, but don’t keep shifting your focus. Once you’ve chosen a focal point, stick to it as you practice. You can also do this exercise inside if you can’t go out.
Final Thoughts on Ten Exercises to Help Reduce Distractibility and Refocus Attention
Distractibility is often considered an issue for kids, but adults struggle just as much. If you need help refocus your attention, these tips can help you. Don’t let your wandering mind stand in the way of your career or reaching other goals.
Learn to stay focused on the task at hand so that you can get things done and enjoy your time later. You’re not too old to learn how to focus and reduce distractibility. If you start practicing now, it’ll quickly make a difference.