1st May 2020

Finding it hard to focus? Here’s how to concentrate

Time to read: 4 minutes

What barriers to concentration are you facing right now? Whether you’re working remotely from home, or a keyworker busy keeping things going elsewhere, the Covid-19 pandemic presents us with new challenges to our concentration skills. We’re being distracted by the abnormality, not to mention the worry, of it all. This new 4-minute read article gives you 8 tips for staying focused in these unprecedented times.

As I sat down to write this, my husband interrupted me. ‘Have you been able to get us a click and collect shopping slot yet?’ he asked. ‘Funny you should say that,’ I replied. And now I find myself worrying about whether I should log in for the umpteenth time to see if I can snatch a precious slot or whether I should continue concentrating on writing this piece…

I’ve decided I’m sticking with you in this article. Our online shop will have to wait. But there’s this nagging thought at the back of my mind. Should I take a quick peek at availability?  So, how do I get rid of it and concentrate on you, dear Reader?

Here goes!

Unless we focus on our priority tasks each day, we’ll be side-tracked by a plethora of distractions that jump up and grab our attention and knock us off course. Frankly, if you’re working in a care home or hospital right now, your training kicks in and what you have to do is both vital and obvious. You know what you need to do. Urgent and important tasks make themselves known. But if you’re working from home you need self-discipline and a respectful household to help you apply some key concentration techniques. Here’s what I recommend:

  1. Set yourself specific short-term goals and reward yourself when you achieve them. But don’t beat yourself up if you don’t – just telling yourself to concentrate won’t work! Apply the ideas below instead.
  2. Don’t attempt to do more than one thing at a time. You can’t multitask, even if you think you can. If you try, you simply make your brain flit from one thing to another and your concentration, along with your ability to function optimally, suffers.
  3. Decide on your priorities and work through them one at a time. Gather everything you need to complete the task, so you don’t distract yourself looking for things as you go along.
  4. Give yourself structured breaks. That means allowing your brain a complete rest from your current task and giving yourself a short physical or mental activity to do, to reset the mind. These ErgoBreaks boost your oxygen intake and your concentration levels.
  5. Concentrate for short bursts. You concentrate best in short sessions of around 20 minutes. If you feel your mind wandering, take an ErgoBreak.
  6. Don’t try to concentrate when you’re hungry. It’s difficult to concentrate if you’re thinking about whether or not you should have a chocolate biscuit or stop for lunch. So don’t start a task if you’re hungry. But don’t have a big meal and then feel like a doze, either!
  7. Keep yourself hydrated. Keep a bottle of water close to hand and drink frequently. Yes, this means more trips to the loo, but for your brain to function well, it’s important not to get dehydrated. (A bottle with a lid is better than a glass, to avoid spills!)
  8. Enlist the support of your household. Sharing your ‘workspace’ with other members of your family can make concentration even harder than normal. Partners may also be working from home and take up ‘your’ space; children demand attention and need home schooling and parenting.  When you need to concentrate, ask for help. Maybe it’s time for a bit of negotiation?  The more they allow you the peace and quiet you need to concentrate, the sooner you’ll be available to attend to their needs.

What about the things we can’t ignore?

Of course, inevitably we need to compromise. There will be things and people we simply can’t ignore but structuring your day and using the tips above will help.

By understanding how to help yourself concentrate you’ll get more done, and you’ll do it better. You’ll feel better too. You’ll feel less stressed, more satisfied, and even be able to enjoy some of the benefits of working from home. 

And now, with my job here done, I must log in to see if I can track down an elusive click and collect shopping slot! Good luck with your concentration skills.

Catherine de Salvo

1 May 2020


The Scott Bradbury WATCH & GO ‘One to Watch’ video for May is ‘Concentration Skills for Busy People’.  This short video illustrates how to concentrate and comes with a handy downloadable learning guide summary.  To see the video and the guide, along with the full WATCH & GO video library, please call +44 (0)1638 723590 or email video@scottbradbury.co.uk  You are welcome to have a free trial.  www.watchandgovideos.co.uk

For other tips on concentration skills, see this article:

’How to Work Accurately in Abnormal Times’

Finding it hard to focus? Here's how to concentrate

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