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Focus better
Posted: February 15, 2012
Last Updated: February 15, 2012

Today’s world is full of concentration killers; little distractions that disconnect you from focusing on the task at hand and instead spending your time on less important matters. But there are some easy ways to keep your concentration intact while ignoring disruptions.


In the wired world of today social media is the King of Distractions. Those little status updates beep you right out of your train-of-thought and force you to backtrack to resume your work. So while working, avoid logging in to social media sites. If you feel compelled to check in, do it during breaks, when the steady stream of posts won’t break your concentration. The same goes for email. Set times during your work day to check your email account, work or personal, so it doesn’t interrupt your work or sidetrack you on less important tasks. Think about shutting down your email program during the day to carve out times to concentrate on projects without being interrupted.


Cell phones can be just as disruptive to your life as email. That summoning ring is a sound few of us can ignore, but it can also cut off your concentration on the task at hand. Turn off your cell phone when concentrating on difficult or important tasks. It helps keep you focused and limits your worry for distractions. Still having trouble accepting the world can do without you immediately answering your cell phone? It only takes a few seconds to change your voice mail to let people know you will get back to them later in the afternoon after you have finished your project.


Think you have mastered multitasking, think again. Experts say you lose time whenever you shift your attention from one task to another. The end result is attempting simultaneous projects usually takes longer than doing one project after another. Whenever possible, devote your time to a single activity, especially on intense or high-priority tasks.


Prioritize your tasks whenever possible. Everyone usually checks their email, phone messages and in box. Place these at a time in your day when they won’t interfere with major projects or impending deadlines. Important work that has deadlines should be scheduled into you calendar, give a little time every day to work on long-term projects so you don’t procrastinate or become overwhelmed.


Face it, some office work is just plain boring. Schedule it between more interesting tasks or give yourself a reward once its complete like a cup of coffee, a short walk, or a favorite healthy snack. Even listening to the radio while you are filing can help you stay on task and stimulate your brain to keep you from getting bored.


It can be hard to concentrate with nagging thoughts, like last night’s conversation or worries about house or yard work. Instead of ruminating on these thoughts, write them down. This removes the powerful distraction and allows you to complete the task later or let the concern go for awhile. Journaling can help with this; keep one by the side of your bed if nagging thoughts keep you up at night or at your desk so you can lists tasks that need to be done but aren’t related to work.


Most people think sadness is the main symptom of depression, but the National Institute of Mental Health says difficulty concentrating is the most common symptom. If you are continually having trouble concentrating after trying these hints or feel empty, sad, hopeless or lonely, you may be experiencing depression. If you have consistent trouble focusing check with your doctor or counselor as many adults have undiagnosed Attention Deficit Disorder. There are ways of managing the condition. 


For more information on ways to help you concentrate call Border Area Mental Health Services. To reach Border Area Mental Health Services in Grant and Hidalgo Counties, call 388-4412; in Catron County, call 533-6649 for referral; in Luna County, call 546-2174.  For CRISIS, call 538-3488 or outside Silver City, call 1-800-426-0997.

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© 2008 by Border Area Mental Health Services and Putting the Web to Work. Front-page photo copyright by Bob Pelham, Pinos Altos Cabins, and used by permission. All rights reserved. For the privacy and comfort of our clients and staff, the photographs used in this site are representative and do not show specific individuals associated with BAMHS.