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Home I can't really focus. What are the daily habits that distract my focus?

I can't really focus. What are the daily habits that distract my focus?


You check your social media apps on your phone. There might be updates you haven’t read, though you just checked 15 minutes ago. You open an online game, hoping to squeeze in a few minutes of play which sometimes stretch to half an hour. You time and time again read emails and respond to them as they arrive in your inbox. You see something interesting while browsing, so you research about it and eventually fall into a rabbit hole. All these situations are so familiar. They cause so many of us to struggle with how to manage our time and use it well. 

Instead of engaging in creative and deep work, we find ourselves distracted by these seemingly mundane activities. Some of our distractions have become bad habits that tell us how severely out of focus we are. On the other hand, knowing that they are habits gives us hope that they can be broken through science! 

The science behind habits

Ultimately, habits live in our subconscious. They are our response to the triggers that our brain perceives, and they are automatic and form a chain. The more that the chain is repeated, the stronger the habit becomes part of our system. 

  • Cue. This refers to an event that wakes a craving. 
  • Craving. It is the enticing solution that the brain thinks of in response to the cue. 
  • Response. It is the action that we take because of the feeling of craving. 
  • Reward. It is the result of the action, often something that makes us feel good or reduces our worries. 

Tips for successful transition from distraction to attention

  • Choose to do the important things in the beginning. 

In a list of many things to do, where the urgent, the important, the urgent and less important and the unimportant are mixed or worse, unclear, it is hard to enforce our will to be productive. It results in attention that is easily fragmented and easily broken. It turns out, when so many things compete with our mind, our willpower gets depleted as the day wears on.

What to do: Before starting the day, refresh yourself with your priorities, arranging them from the most important. Make a schedule dividing your time into time blocks that prioritize important things. 

Reward: Include rewards in your schedule. For example, 2 hours of focused work cna be rewarded with several minutes of simple activities that you enjoy. It could be taking a break to stretch, a short nap, a snack, or social media scrolling. It helps you build the muscle of attention and allows you to enjoy rewards without feeling guilty.

  • Break the habit that  is the most powerful. 

In a huge survey of employees and their distractions, social media showed to be the most powerful distraction among different career backgrounds. Opening a social media app and browsing have become so easy even if we aim to be working. Unfortunately, research shows that our brain takes 20 to 25 minutes to re engage in a task after a distraction. Imagine how much time we spend connecting with our tasks after being distracted by social media several times a day!

What to do: “Out of sight, out of mind” might help us. Consider placing devices out of sight and out of reach. Some have found deleting their social media apps during work hours, or keeping their phone in another room while they are at work is effective. 

Rewards: Using our gadgets for social media even during our work hours and break times puts us at risk for a sedentary lifestyle and for more anxiety. Instead of browsing the Internet mindlessly, try incorporating activities that relieve stress such as walking, exercising and spending more time in nature. For example, you can change the cues by making exercise equipment handy. 

Building a successful strategy to beat our distractions builds on our knowledge of habit science. The more we are self-aware of our own bad habits that distract us, the more we can make solutions and make it easier for our brain to build a different habit chain. Say no to digital distractions, and say yes to a more focused life! 

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I can't really focus. What are the daily habits that distract my focus?
Brandon Resasco