What to Do If You Can’t Stay Focused for a Long Time

Your ability to focus single-mindedly on your most important tasks and activities directly affect your productivity. When you allow yourself to get distracted and interrupted, you decrease your productivity.

Distractions hinder your focus and thus your productivity. To stay focus, you must remove (or at least minimize) distractions. For instance:

  • you may need to turn off your smartphone to prevent your countless phone notifications from distracting you;
  • you may need to tell your family, except for emergency, they should refrain from addressing you while you’re working;
  • you may need to temporarily shut down your Internet connection to prevent you from losing your way in the meanders of the Web.

Your smartphone, your family, the Internet, and other similar distractions are “external” distractions: distractions that come from your environment. These distractions are fairly simple to control. You need a little discipline, but in most cases, you can easily address these sources of distractions.

Let’s assume that you’ve removed all sources of external distractions from your environment. It still doesn’t mean you’ll be able to focus on your work for a long time. In fact, focus means you apply your attention to the task at hand. It demands mental and emotional energy, which is a finite resource that needs to be continually replenished.

“Focus” is like a muscle: when you use it, you get tired and must rest to rejuvenate yourself.

Fortunately, like a muscle, you can build mental stamina so that your mind doesn’t “check out” too soon. You can train it to stay present and pay attention to your work. You can train it to avoid internal distractions, such as random thoughts that take you down rabbit trails.

What should you do if you can’t stay focus for a long time? If you can’t stay focused for a long time, then focus for a short time. Instead of trying to lift heavy weights, lift light ones consistently–and progressively increase the load.

At first, focus for 10 minutes at a time and then take a break. Then, increase your focus sessions to 15 minutes. Then, 20 minutes. Make consistent short strides, and with time, increase the length of your strides.

What matters most is that you start and remain consistent. Starting small gives you an opportunity to get wins under your belt. Consistency builds momentum.

To increase your productivity, you must build your focus muscle. No matter your starting point, you can get better—if you put in the work.

About The Author

Vladimir Elie

I help people learn and apply success principles and strategies so that they can get the results they want in life.