Losing focus at work is more common than one might think. Despite popular belief, it is not directly related to laziness or laziness, as there may be external and behavioral factors that are affecting our performance.
If we do not pay attention to what affects our focus, we run the risk of suffering some work, personal, and health consequences. In this article, you will find some of the reasons that could be causing you to lose your focus and how you can deal with it.
- Focus problems at work have many external reasons, but also our own behaviors, such as not sleeping or eating properly.
- Resting at night or taking breaks during the day is one of the best options when concentration fails you.
- There are many online techniques for improving focus, from meditation and breathing to sorting out your distractions.
Why do I lose focus at work?
Everyone is distracted in different ways and for different reasons—there is no strict rule. But, there are general situations that may be contributing to your losing focus at work. Here are some of the most common reasons.
1. You deal with too many activities at the same time
Currently, multitasking is praised and rewarded, due to the ability of performing several activities at the same time. But, we must remember that some people find it difficult to focus their attention, and that’s okay.
If you are one of those people who find it difficult to multitask, it is important to allocate your time to each activity. Don’t try to squeeze too much into too little time if you don’t think you’ll give it enough attention. Remember that it is better to do one task well than several half-finished or poorly done tasks.
2. You do not plan your activities
Sometimes we tend to stack up a few non-specific activities. A common mistake is not noting down and/or prioritizing the urgency and importance of these. For this reason, it is recommended to make a general or individual plan for each project.
Among the advantages of planning are:
- It encourages people to think about what a project requires and involves.
- It realistically establishes a deadline.
- Allows independent deadlines to be set according to the need of the project.
3. You expose yourself to distractions
People can be distracted by external inputs that they like. For example, constantly checking social media, sending messages, chatting with colleagues, etc.
Ideally, you should set time limits on how long you are not allowed to be distracted by activities outside your work. You can measure the time according to your needs, for example, observe what your maximum attention span is and use it as a guide.
4. Your personal life distracts you
We as human beings cannot consider that our private life does not mix with our professional life. Therefore, both good and bad moments that happen outside the work area can also impact our focus.
In fact, whatever we experience outside the office is considered to contribute to the development of stress, anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome. Bad news, in particular, can easily distract us at work.
5. You work without a break
Work without breaks in the short or long term can be harmful to our work performance, and even our health. If you are not used to taking time off from work between days or weeks, you should start to consider it as part of your routine before you develop burnout.
Burnout syndrome (BO) is defined as a physical and emotional response to stress suffered by the individual in the workplace. It is diagnosed by two important signs (1):
- Emotional exhaustion: characterized by a progressive loss of energy.
- Depersonalization: occurrence of negative responses and attitudes that were not present before.
6. Not enough sleep
Sleep is the greatest source of energy, and if you don’t respect it, you run the risk of being distracted and unmotivated at work. You may even feel sick from fatigue.
Some benefits of a good night’s sleep include improved memory, increased performance, better attention and better health, among others (2). For obvious reasons, we cannot say that once you get too little sleep your health will be compromised, however, you should avoid making a habit out of it.
7. Poor nutrition
Another bad habit that makes us lose focus at work is a bad diet. This can include unhealthy snacks, eating too little throughout the day, or even excessive eating.
The importance of food has been studied in students, for example. Several studies have shown that a lack of nutrients promotes poor academic performance (3).
8. You do not like your job
If you dislike a specific task, or your job in general, you are likely to postpone what you don’t like in favor of smaller activities or external distractions.
This phenomenon is called procrastination. This behavioral disorder means delaying tasks that need to be done for more irrelevant and pleasant ones. It is sometimes confused with laziness, but it is not the same thing (4).
What should I do when I lose focus at work?
Remember that every situation and person is different, so here are some tips to try when you lose focus at work. Depending on the occasion, try one or all of them until you find the one that works for you.
Breathe and give yourself some time
If work or loss of concentration is getting to you, take some time and breathe. To do this you can simply stand up, stretch and take deep breaths. There are many guided breathing videos online that can help you.
You can also go to the bathroom to freshen up, or simply walk around your workspace while you take your mind off the task you are doing. The goal is to distract yourself for a while, breathe, and stretch your body.
Deal with what distracts you and put it in its place
If you are distracted by something particular, we recommend you to stop working, find out what specifically is bothering you and make a decision about it. You can do the following:
|Characteristic or what it requires||What you must do|
|Urgent||Work on it. If it is time-consuming, decide whether you can wait for a break or ask your bosses for more time to sort it out.|
|Not urgent||Decide when you will give it its time, write it down and put it aside.|
|Requires little time||Pause your work, determine how much time you will give to it, and don’t switch to other tasks until you have finished.|
|Requires a lot of time and attention||Depending on its urgency, write it down, decide when you will deal with it and put it aside.|
Sometimes, writing down your tasks and assigning your attention to them frees your mind from thinking about them constantly. Especially if what you are thinking about is that you don’t want to forget to do it. See the best Task Management Software
Practice concentration and relaxation techniques
There are many myths and stereotypes about meditation, but studies in neuroscience and psychology have highlighted the benefits of this activity. These include the following (5):
- Increased awareness of being present.
- Improves mood, self-esteem, self-confidence, intelligence, memory, attention, and focus.
- Increased visual-spatial and imagination skills.
- Decrease of burnout at work.
Losing focus at work is a common situation, and it doesn’t mean that you are unable to do your job. Listen to your body and mind and attend to its needs, as failure to do so will affect your performance and even your health.
Remember that it is better to complete one task successfully and with the proper attention, than to do several, without any dedication, which will eventually require more adjustments. It is better to take five minutes off than to do projects half-heartedly.
1. Burgos LM, Battioni L, Costabel JP, Lima AAD. Evaluation of burnout syndrome in residents after implementing the “postguard duty rest.” Argentine journal of cardiology [Internet]. 2018 Apr 1 [cited 2022 Sep 21];86(2):126-30. Available from: http://www.scielo.org.ar/scielo.php?script=sci_abstract&pid=S1850-37482018000200126
2. The 12 benefits of sleeping well [Internet]. definicion.edu.lat. [cited 2022 Sep 21]. Available from: https://definicion.edu.lat/psicologia/B9901B424B1296661083EAD4A1C0C29B.html
3. Cadena Montalván E, Maquilon De la Rosa M. Incidence of poor nutrition in students, affects academic performance. repositoriougeduec [Internet]. 2014 [cited 2022 Sep 21]; Available from: http://repositorio.ug.edu.ec/handle/redug/16467
4. Garcia A, De M. Multifactorial problem of absenteeism, presenteeism and procrastination in the structures in which the worker performs. Occupational Medicine and Safety [Internet]. 2011 Jun 1 [cited 2022 Sep 21];57(223):111-20. Available from: https://scielo.isciii.es/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0465-546X2011000200004
5. Gutiérrez, G. S Meditation, mindfulness and its biopsychosocial effects. [Internet]. 201 [cited 2022 Sep 21];14(2):223. Available from:https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Ginette-Sanchez-Gutierrez/publication/228503777_MEDITACION_MINDFULNESS_Y_SUS_EFECTOS_BIOPSICOSOCIALES_REVISION_DE_LITERATURA/links/61a07332acc0bc46c116d9dc/MEDITACION-MINDFULNESS-Y-SUS-EFECTOS-BIOPSICOSOCIALES-REVISION-DE-LITERATURA.pdf