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. It seems that everyone has 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 you’re 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 when it comes to 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 throughout the situation, 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. Each time you switch jobs, you lose productivity because it hinders your focus.
Instead of doing multiple things at once, make a list of 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 a type of mindfulness training that helps you pay attention to the world around you 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.
When you first start practicing open monitoring, you’ll want to sit in a comfortable position. 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 the feelings and thoughts helps you stay focused on the essential parts of your life right now.
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 see along 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 your breathing feels or what it does to your body. You could think about the cool air coming in and out of your nostrils or the way your abdomen moves. Focus on any aspect of the breathing process, but make sure it’s tied to a sensory experience.
Don’t get frustrated if your mind keeps wandering 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 distraction. Practice this exercise every day, and it’ll quickly start helping in your daily life.