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4 Reasons You Can't Concentrate and 6 Practical Ways to Improve Focus

In tons of news, phone notifications, and emails it's no wonder that you have trouble focusing and can't stay concentrated for a long time. Find out how to improve focus in no time and stay concentrated during the entire day.
Imagine what you could achieve if you had razor-sharp focus and intense concentration! If you are a student, you would probably get straight As, and if you work, you would be an employee extraordinaire. Success would be guaranteed!

Unfortunately, we've all had to deal with a lack of focus and difficulty concentrating. There is so much stimulation in our internal and external environment that vies for our attention and creates trouble focusing.
a man writing at the desk with a laptop on it and trying to understand how to improve focus

What does it mean to have difficulty concentrating?

When you have a diminished ability to focus on something, you are having difficulty concentrating. This difficulty extends into your daily life because your inability to focus hampers you from learning new things, performing your tasks, and achieving your goals.

Here's why you can't focus

It's easy to be frustrated when you can't concentrate. You struggle when you cannot focus because you cannot think well nor plan well. You may even be unable to make good decisions. These are important factors that affect your daily life.

To learn how to improve your concentration and sharpen your focus, you need to identify the reasons why you have difficulty concentrating.

The most common culprit for the inability to focus is the presence of too many distractions. Various physical stimuli compete for your attention and prevent you from focusing on the task at hand. Today's digital platforms constantly bombard your brain with visual and audio stimulation. If your mobile phone is very accessible to you, chances are, even if on silent mode, you will keep checking it. It is also important to remember that some distractions are internal. Your mind can be racing with many different thoughts, creating mental clutter. There's stress, worry, anxiety, and so on.
a tired girls sitting neat her laptop with a cup of coffee on the table and thinking how to improve focus
Another reason why you can't focus is procrastination. Procrastination is the willful and unnecessary postponement of making decisions or doing certain tasks. Even when you are aware that something needs to be done, you choose not to act on it, which then leads to free-floating anxiety knowing that something is yet to be accomplished. This is usually a response to overwhelming tasks or decisions. It may also be due to a poor setup of your surroundings and a lack of discipline where you cannot delay gratification. Check out this link to know more about how to stop procrastinating.

You could also be physically or mentally tired. When you experience fatigue, both physical and mental exhaustion, you can have trouble focusing. It is one thing when you are physically tired – sleepless, hungry, weak, or sick – but it's another thing when you are mentally tired – too much to think about, depressed, anxious, and so on. This kind of tiredness makes it very difficult to concentrate. Studies show that when mental fatigue persists, it can lead to a full-blown burnout, physical ailments, and stress-related illnesses.

The fourth reason could be due to a lack of motivation. When you find yourself disengaged with the things you need to finish, it becomes difficult to concentrate. You cannot focus when you don't value the reward you get from performing the task. This is common when the main motivation is extrinsic. Furthermore, not all people have the same level of achievement motivation. Some people may be inherently more driven and motivated than others, which explains why they focus more on pursuing their goals.

How to improve focus: 6 surefire tips

1. Create to-do lists and daily plans

You need to focus your energy on the most important tasks first, otherwise, you will be easily distracted or demotivated. By creating a to-do list for the day, you will become more organized. Planning and prioritizing is a good way to make sure you focus on your goals. The Ivy Lee method is one of the more popular strategies in organizing your day. At the end of each day, write down your top six priority tasks for the next day, then rank them from one to six. When you begin the next day, work on your number one task until it is completed, then proceed to the next, and so on.

2. Add more physical exercise

The benefits of physical exercise go beyond physical health. There is also an immense benefit to overall productivity and concentration. According to a study conducted by the Harvard Medical School, exercise is an excellent way to reduce brain fog and frequent bouts of forgetfulness. Physical exercise helps the brain to release chemicals that boost memory, concentration, and mental sharpness.
four hands pointing to the target as the way to show how to improve focus

3. Don't strive for perfection

Have you been told to "cut yourself some slack"? If yes, that probably means you've been working too hard and you're exhausted, physically and mentally. As previously mentioned, fatigue clouds your concentration. Perfection is not of this world, and it is a waste of time to strive for it. You might be pushing yourself too hard and are unable to focus. The next time you feel you are losing your concentration, get some rest or take a power nap.

4. Find an accountability partner

You might want to have someone check on you and track your progress. Your accountability partner will help you make improvements and remind you of the work that needs to be done. Initially, you might find it unpleasant to be accountable to someone else, but in the long run, it can help you stay focused and improve yourself and your habits.

5. Monotask

Multitasking is a myth. Your brain can only focus on one thing at a time. When you try to focus on more than one thing, the prefrontal cortex of the brain will try to catch up by trying to switch focus from one thing to another. Hence, trying to multitask overworks your brain and decreases your focus. If you want to improve your focus, it is best to concentrate on a single task at a time.
a girl in the library reading a book on how to improve focus

6. Get motivated

According to Friedrich Nietzsche, "He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how." It is easy to enter a state of flow when your concentration is intense and you are deeply engaged in the task at hand. When you enjoy what you are doing or you at least know the reason for it, you will become more absorbed and focused.


You may struggle with distractions, procrastination, fatigue, or a lack of motivation at some point in your life. But the important thing is to tackle these issues and realize that if you want to succeed or have a more fulfilling life, you will have to develop your ability to focus on things that matter most.
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