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Battling Brain Distractions

By Dillon Wallace

We’ve all been there – unable to focus on the task at hand because of distractions. From gabby coworkers and the lure of smartphones to the onset of hangriness (you know, angry hunger) and every procrastination method in the book, it can be easy to lose focus.


But with so many projects, obligations and responsibilities going on in our lives, focus is truly the one thing that we really can’t afford to lose. So let’s discuss some ways to battle brain distractions and regain that focus flag.

Make lists & make then often

For some people (definitely not talking about myself at all), crossing off a “to-do” list can be incredibly cathartic. If you’re juggling a lot on a daily basis, try making a list of 2-5 tasks you need to complete for the day. It will help you focus on what’s most important or top priority for the day, helping you feel less overwhelmed. When you’re done, cross them off and smile as you watch your “to-do” list become an “is done” list.


Wake & take (care of business)

Have you ever noticed how much more productive you are in the morning? Okay, maybe not right out of bed, especially if you’re far from a morning person, but around the 9 to noon hours you’re typically kicking you know what while taking names. And then lunch time hits, and you hit the 2pm productivity black hole. 


The simple answer here is to prioritize – to get as much as you can get done early, before you lose focus and motivation. Trust me, it makes the after-lunch lull so much easier to power through.



If you’re hungry, chances are your energy levels are going to be pretty low. And if your energy levels are low, your productivity and focus are going to reflect that near empty fuel gauge. So, make sure you’re eating a little something (aka don’t stuff yourself) to keep you going throughout the day. More importantly, make sure that what you’re eating isn’t just sugary junk food that’s just going to make you crash right after you eat it. 


Small chunks lead to big holes

One of the biggest distractions fatal to your focus is having a big goal and getting overwhelmed. It’s the classic “I want to get in shape but it won’t happen instantly so now I’m discouraged” dilemma. The same truth there applies to your day-to-day work and other responsibilities.


So instead of slamming the whole cake in your mouth at once, try taking things in bite-sized chunks. Tackling the smallest items on your to-do list can help you get the ball rolling, which will help you take on the bigger stuff when it’s time. And when it comes to getting in shape – just show up. Getting to the gym is half the battle.


Picture your productivity

It’s easy to picture ourselves already succeeding before we’ve even begun. But, it’s important not to put the cart before the horse with this piece of advice because that can kill motivation. Instead, picture yourself actually doing the work, not reaping the benefits afterward. Picture yourself working on each step of the process and then do them. It’s kind of like getting yourself psyched up for the task at hand.


For example, if you want to learn a song on the guitar, don’t picture yourself mastering the whole song as soon as you pick up the guitar. Instead, focus on visualizing a riff, a verse – a chorus. The rest will take care of itself soon enough.


Put the phone away

I get it – our phones are awesome. We have updates and notifications lighting up our screen constantly on a daily basis. And we just HAVE TO know what that next text or alert says, right? Wrong. If you’re truly trying to get some work done, put down the phone (face down and far away if you really want to roll up your sleeves and get serious) and get to it. You’ll notice that less phone time will improve your productivity and limit distractions immensely.


Tune in to focus

Sometimes just the pure silence of a room can be distracting. I know, it sounds counterintuitive, but hear me out. If it’s too quiet, the mind can tend to wander. Just adding a little soft music in the background or (instrumental is perfect) can help you really retain focus. It’s also a good way to keep your energy levels going because your mind can catch the rhythm of the songs to keep going.


If you recline, you’re likely to decline

Ever had true intentions to go to the gym after work, but as soon as you get home, you made the rookie mistake of sitting down on your comfy couch? Next thing you know, you’ve tapped out for the night. We’ve all been there. And the solution is easier than you think – don’t relax if you’re trying to avoid distractions. If you’re writing a paper and you start to drift, get up and walk around the room for a minute or two. If you’re planning on hitting the gym, don’t sit down and get cozy – you’ll have plenty of time to do that after you’ve put in a good sweat.


I wish I could tell you there’s a non-distraction pill you could take and everything would be better. Well, technically that does exist, but I’m not your doctor, so I can’t recommend it. But, making small changes to your focus and following the tips on this list can help you win the battle against those brain distractions that are waging war against your daily routine.

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