The Betterment Project
Why You Can't Focus: Reasons Why You May Get Distracted

Why You Can't Focus: Reasons Why You May Get Distracted

When you can’t focus, it can make just about any task seemingly impossible. Most of us have experienced the sensation of reading a passage in a book over and over again, and when we get to the last line, we realize that we still have no idea what we just read. We didn’t suddenly forget how to read, but we did lose our focus. 


We need the ability to concentrate. When we lose control of our ability to focus, we can find ourselves staring off into space, daydreaming, and neglecting the responsibilities around us like deadlines, dinner on the stove, or any task we’re performing. 


Sometimes our focus slips, and we put off difficult tasks or opt for easier, more mindless tasks. While these feelings are common, they can still be quite distressing. Realizing that you’ve lost track of time, forgotten to do something, or that you’ve spaced out in a conversation can create anxious feelings.


It’s important that you learn to recognize the signs and understand the causes for your lack of focus and concentration. Then, it’s easier to explore solutions that can help lessen your loss of focus.


Recognizing a Lack of Concentration


There are signs to look for that can tell you when your concentration levels and your ability to focus are getting low. 


Short Term Memory Issues


Short-term memory loss isn’t just a problem for little blue fish in movies. Not being able to remember recent events can be frustrating for anyone. Have you found yourself wondering:


  • “Why did I open this search window?”
  • “Why did I come into this room?”
  • “What was the one thing I needed at the store today?”
  • “When was that meeting?”
  • “What did they say their name was?”

Many of us attribute it to age, but you may be struggling with your short-term memory. This is a clear sign of a lack of focus. Stress and your emotional well-being can all be factors in a loss of focus and short-term memory impairment.


Lack of Energy


Often when our concentration levels dip low, our energy levels are on the same trajectory. This is because a lack of sleep, increased stress, or feeling emotionally unwell can lead to a lapse in energy levels and the cognitive ability to focus. Feeling
fatigued can make these issues with energy and concentration more exaggerated. 


More Mistakes


We all make mistakes. We’re human. It’s our nature. If you can recall a time when someone was trying to correct you for making a mistake, then you may remember the person saying that the mistake could have been avoided if you were paying more attention. 


If you can’t concentrate, you’re more likely to make mistakes. That’s one of the reasons multitasking doesn’t work. If you’re noticing an uptick in your mistakes, you may be struggling to focus. 


Trouble Making Decisions


You can’t make it through a single day without making choices or decisions. In fact, every action you take is a decision. 


Many of our decisions are made subconsciously by our brains. The other decisions that require a little more thought or effort, like choosing what you want to eat, what you should do next, what to wear, or which route you should take on your commute, can all become more difficult when you’re struggling to focus or concentrate.


Many things can impact your ability to focus. Lack of sleep, diet changes or poor diet, anxiety, stress, hunger, or dehydration are just a few reasons that could cause you to have a newfound inability to focus. Thankfully, there are plenty of things you can do to improve your focus and get yourself back to normal.


How To Improve Your Focus


Improving your focus can help lower your stress levels because you can concentrate on the things you need to accomplish. If your focus severely impacts your daily life, you may want to discuss it with your physician. For mild struggles with concentration, here are some simple tips that may help improve your focus naturally that you can do for yourself. 


1. Time Blocks


Large projects or tasks can be overwhelming. Feeling overwhelmed can lead to procrastination, and nothing passes the time when you’re procrastinating, like losing track of time altogether by not focusing on what you’re supposed to be doing. 


One way to deal with large or overwhelming projects is to break your project and your time into smaller chunks. You can do this whether you have a large, looming project or just an everyday workload. Breaking your time into smaller, more manageable time blocks like 30 minutes can give you the motivation to focus solely on the task at hand because you only have to do it for 30 minutes.


Not only will you work through the task, little by little, you know you don’t have to stick with it for long, so it’s a bit easier to focus fully. This is a common practice in house cleaning. Set a timer, get to work, and be amazed at the progress you can make in just 30 minutes.


2. Supplement Your Focus


Many people the world over turn to
caffeine when they need to focus. Caffeine does help improve your focus, reaction time and boost your energy levels, but sometimes you need to focus without feeling the jittery rush of caffeine. In fact, some people can’t tolerate caffeine, so there have to be more natural alternatives to improving your focus. 


Fortunately, other natural supplements may help improve your focus, calm your mind, and not make you drowsy. Complete Calm De-Stress Gummies are a tasty way to help support your cognitive function and elevate your mood. You can take one to feel an almost immediate calming sensation, but like most good habits, you benefit more from consistency. 


Complete Calm De-Stress Gummies have key ingredients like Persian Saffron extract, Panax Ginseng, a daytime terpene blend, Lion’s Mane, Rhodiola, and Lemon balm. These ingredients were chosen to blend in a tasty way that may help improve memory and focus and support cognitive function and a sense of well-being.

 

 

3. Go To Bed


A lack of sleep can destroy your ability to focus.
Driving drowsy is dangerous because you can’t concentrate on operating the vehicle. When you’re not getting enough sleep, it may not always put you in danger, but it can make concentrating difficult. 


If you know you’ve been doing too much or haven’t prioritized your sleep, get yourself some rest. A power nap or a better sleep routine, in general, can give you marked improvements in your ability to focus.


4. Hydrate


A busy life make it easy to forget to drink enough water. Like the rest of our body, our brain relies on water to perform at peak levels. If you don’t get enough water, it can make concentrating a difficult task. 


If you’re working and notice a dip in concentration, instead of reaching for a cup of coffee, have a glass of water. Even an additional glass of water may make a noticeable difference in your concentration levels. 


Even if you don’t need the water break, it may help give you a mental break to refresh your focus. 


5. Take a Walk


If you’ve been hard at work, you may start to lose your focus from focusing for too long. Just like working in small blocks of time can help make the work more manageable, adding in small breaks can give your brain some breathing room. 


You may have a hard time pausing when you’re hard at work, but the fresh air and the mental break from the task at hand can help you feel refreshed and make it easier to focus when you return to what you were doing.


Summary


There are plenty of reasons why we lose our focus from time to time. Stress, lack of sleep, poor diet, and more can contribute to a lack of concentration. It’s important that you know the signs that your focus levels are beginning to dip. You may be able to implement some preventative measures.


If you’re struggling to remember why you walked into the kitchen, making simple mistakes more frequently, have less energy, or can’t decide on even simple subjects, you may need to take steps to improve your focus.


Small steps can have a big impact on your ability to focus. Try time blocks, a natural supplement, getting some rest, up to your water intake, or take a walk.


Sources:

Memory loss: When to seek help | mayoclinic.org 

Fatigue | my.clevelandclinic.org 

Why Multitasking Doesn't Work | Cleveland Clinic 

Drowsy Driving: Asleep at the Wheel | cdc.gov

Drowsy Driving | NHTSA 


Meet our Experts

This article has been reviewed by members of our Scientific Advisory Board.

  • Dr. Jay Cowin, Nutrition Expert

    Founder of Functional U, a Nutrition, Performance & Optimal Health practice.

  • Dominick Gauthier, Performance Expert

    Former Olympic Athlete, Founder, B2ten Foundation (coach to multiple Olympic Champions)