Staying Focused

Yoo Young Chun, Focus Editor

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When it comes to doing work, my biggest barrier is my lack of focus. I sit down at my desk with my books and homework out in front of me ready to be done, but there is this stubborn part of me that says “just watch one more trailer about a movie you’ll never watch and then you can finish your worksheet on multiplying rational expressions”. It is close to impossible for me to work on something straight for more than fifteen minutes. It took me while to realize that focusing is something that can be achieved. As I keep working, it gets easier to sit down for long periods of time without glancing at my phone or getting distracted. However, for times when it’s especially hard to stay focused, I’ve learned a couple of things I can do to make it easier.

  1. Turn my phone on airplane mode
    • To be honest, I hate putting my phone on airplane mode. It makes me anxious that I might miss an important call or text. Usually I don’t use this method unless I really need to focus because I either have a deadline or it’s work that’s important and requires a lot of concentration.
  2. Listen to music
    • Listening to music while doing work is something I’ve always been cautious of. A lot of people have differing opinions on listening to music, but what I think is that it really depends on the situation. I usually only listen to music while I work when what I’m doing is extremely tedious and doesn’t require much thought. Even then, I don’t listen to music with lyrics, movie soundtracks and classical music really helps for me. Sometimes when I really can’t focus on anything and music makes things worse but I need SOMETHING to keep me grounded, I turn on white noise, and it really works. When it comes to music, it totally depends on the person, so if it works then it works.
  3. Take a nap

    • If it’s not time-sensitive, it’s okay to sleep. For me, it’s sometimes the only solution when I can’t even open my eyes properly because I’m so tired. I used to think sleeping was a waste of time but I learned that sleep helps a lot when I need to focus.
  4. Work on something different
    • Sometimes the reason I can’t focus is because my brain had been doing the same thing for too long. When that happens, I just take a break from what I’m working on and work on something else so that I can still be productive. 
  5. Take a break

    • Lack of focus sometimes comes from working for too long. It’s good to take a 10-15 minute break and then get right back into working. The tricky thing about breaks though, is I’ve noticed that when I go on my phone or computer during the break I get even more distracted and end up going over the time I set up for the break and waste time. That’s why when I take breaks I try to stay off of electronics and read a book or sketch to keep my mind in a productive mindset.
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