Why can’t I focus? This might be the question bugging your mind right now, especially if you’re finding it difficult to concentrate on tasks.
Lack of focus and concentration can really affect your productivity and efficiency.
This is because one requires deep concentration to handle tasks and achieve goals.
If you find yourself constantly distracted and unable to stay focused on specific tasks, it could be the symptoms of underlying mental health issues or other factors related to your lifestyle, habits, or environment.
This blogpost aims to explain the reason behind the inability to stay focused by delving deeply into the psychological and other factors that cause a lack of concentration.
Read on to find answers to your question, Why can’t I focus?
Why Can’t I Focus
As a background to this, let’s examine what it means to be focused or what concentration is all about.
Being focused means paying close attention to set objectives, goals, or tasks and staying committed to the actions required to achieve the set objectives.
Likewise, concentration means giving your exclusive attention to a specific object/task/someone.
Lack of focus and concentration could manifest itself in so many ways besides the inability to pay attention, and they include;
- difficulty listening to others during a conversation
- getting easily distracted
- inability to capture details
- procrastinating or abandoning tasks or project
Staying focused is something many people struggle with often.
Even more so, it is now that there are lots of digital distractions around, thanks to technology.
Most people find it difficult to stay away from their mobile devices these days and concentrate on other things that truly matter.
Overall, distractions are the reason for the lack of focus and concentration in most people.
However, beyond these physical distractions, the inability to stay concentrated could be deeply rooted in internal and psychological factors.
Hence, let’s examine some of the causes of lack of focus and concentration.
Factors That Affect Focus And Concentration
1Mental/Psychological Health Problems
Your inability to stay concentrated on tasks while you work may be due to some mental health issues.
Mental health conditions such as ADHD, depression and anxiety disorders, emotional shock, and PTSD have been associated with a lack of focus.
Some of the symptoms of these mental health conditions include lack of focus and other behavioral changes.
Let’s examine how these mental health conditions are related to a lack of focus.
This is known as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Although research shows that it is most likely to affect children, adults also show signs of this disorder.
Furthermore, lack of focus proves to be one of the predominant signs of this disorder.
Hence, if you lack focus and other strange feelings or behavioral patterns, you should consider seeing a mental health specialist for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Depression and Anxiety
Depression and anxiety disorders is another factor that contributes to the lack of focus in most people.
Severe depression leads to foggy thinking (difficulty thinking clearly).
Furthermore, anxiety disorder is characterized by stressful thoughts and excessive worries.
Anxiety makes it difficult to focus on a single thought.
Depression and anxiety often go hand in hand to tamper with your thought pattern.
Thereby making it difficult for you to concentrate and think clearly.
Emotional Shock and PSTD
One of the dominant symptoms of emotional shock is being unable to think clearly.
Stressful or traumatic life situations, probably the loss of a loved one, or ugly past experiences could also be making it difficult for you to focus.
These traumatic events could lead to emotional shock/trauma, which could have tampered with your brain’s functioning.
Due to the impact of the trauma on how your brain functions, you process things differently.
You constantly feel the need to make rash, impulsive or defensive decisions.
Thereby making it difficult for you to stay focused and think clearly.
2Unhealthy Lifestyle / Bad Habits- Factors That Affect Focus and Attention
Unhealthy lifestyle practices and bad habits can also affect your ability to focus.
Some of these lifestyle practices and bad habits include;
Lack of Sleep
Lack of sleep could also be one of the main contributing factors to your inability to focus.
It is recommended that adults within the age of 18-65+ get within 9 to 11 hours of sleep.
Now, this is hardly possible due to most people’s busy schedules.
When you make it a habit of sleep late and get the least the required amount of sleep, this could be bad for your mental health.
A day of insufficient sleep slows down your thought process and makes you sloppy for the rest of the day.
Doing this in the long term can lead to mental health issues such as Insomnia which would then affects your mind’s functioning and alertness.
Hence, you could be finding it difficult to concentrate due to your bad sleeping habit.
Excessive Stress/Overworking Yourself
Overworking yourself could also be a leading cause of your inability to stay focused.
Stress, either emotional or physical stress, affects the way the mind and body function.
It leads to foggy thinking and causes your mind to wander through different thoughts at the same time.
Hence having too many stressful situations around you, either from your business or personal life, can be the reason you’re finding it difficult to concentrate.
Keeping Yourself Hungry
If you’re in the habit of keeping yourself hungry by skipping breakfast or refusing to eat when you should, this diminishes your energy level and blood sugar level.
Besides affecting your energy throughout the day, it also affects how the brain functions and makes it difficult for you to focus.
Poor Diet and Nutrition
The kinds of foods you consume also affect your concentration levels.
Nutrients such as amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins B, D, and other essential minerals are necessary for the mind and body’s proper functioning.
Hence, consuming too much or too little of these essential nutrients can make it difficult to keep your energy and concentration levels.
Not Drinking Enough Water
When the body lacks sufficient water, it could lead to headaches, uneasiness, fatigue, and low energy levels.
When you feel these symptoms, it can be quite difficult to concentrate on whatsoever you’re doing.
Consequently leading to a lack of focus.
Lack of Exercises
Just as exercise is needed to keep the body fit, exercises are also needed to keep the mind sharp and alert.
Hence, your lack of focus could be largely due to being unfit physically and mentally.
Overall, these are some of the unhealthy factors associated with your lifestyle and habits that affect your focus and concentration.
Certain addictions can also cause contribute to your lack of focus.
This is a situation where your mind is so focused on one thing that you fail to focus on very important things.
Most times, these addictions get in the way and make you lose focus on the task at hand.
Some of these addictions include being addicted to your phone, social media, and sometimes romantic obsessions.
Being obsessed with the thought of someone; makes the person occupy your mind.
Therefore, distracting you from what you ought to do and making you lose focus.
4Lack of Motivation
This has to do more with the tasks or objectives you’re working on.
When the tasks you’re handling lack excitement or have an unproductive workspace, it can be difficult to stay focused.
This is because you’re bored and you lack the motivation to continue with the tasks.
Hence your mind wanders off to other interesting things/thoughts.
Consequently making it difficult for you to focus.
Another major cause of lack of concentration in most people is the environmental factors around them.
Environmental factors such as background noise tend to divert your attention most times.
These noises could from the people or things around you.
Some biological facts can also be the cause of your lack of concentration and focus.
One of these is hormonal changes in the body.
When your hormone level such as estrogen and progesterone in women and testosterone in men, dopamine is low, it affects your memory and thinking ability.
Likewise, as you advance in age or get older, your concentration level and thinking capabilities reduce.
These are biological factors that alter the proper functioning of the mind and body.
Consequently making it difficult for you to concentrate.
Now you know some of the factors that affect focus and concentration in most people.
This answers the question, why can’t I focus?
It’s now time to learn how to solve this problem by discovering how to improve focus.
Simple Tips On How To Improve Focus
One important thing you should know about focus and concentration is that you can’t improve by forcing yourself to focus.
Forcing yourself to focus is counterproductive.
You’ll only end putting all your attention on trying so hard to be focused rather than focusing on what you’re doing; pun intended.
Rather what you should do is to identify the cause of distraction and tackle it.
Earlier, we identified some of the factors that affect focus and concentration.
That is the first step to solving your problem.
Now let’s discover some simple steps to improve focus that you can implement.
See A Mental Health Specialist
This is the first step we will recommend you take to solve your difficulty in focusing and concentrate.
We’ve established that the lack of focus could be due to certain underlying psychological conditions such as ADHD- attention deficit, hyperactivity disorder.
One of the symptoms of this psychological condition is the inability to focus.
Hence, if you begin to notice an increasing inability to focus and forgetfulness, then you should consider seeing a mental health professional.
The mental health professional would run some diagnoses and administer appropriate treatment if the diagnosis proves positive.
This step is necessary to eliminate doubts and identify the actual cause of your lack of concentration.
If your diagnosis comes out negative, you’ll know that your lack of focus is due to other factors and not necessarily a result of psychological problems.
Hence, these next steps would prove useful.
Get Enough Sleep
This is quite hard for most people to do, especially for you as a business owner/entrepreneur.
Most times, you barely get up to 6 hours of good sleep, and even when you plan to, your sleep is interrupted by business calls and other forms of distraction.
This is bad for your overall health, especially in the long term.
Besides creating health problems for you, such as high blood pressure, heart diseases, obesity, and more, it also affects your concentration level.
Lack of quality sleep can cause you to experience headaches and heaviness during the day.
Consequently affecting your productivity.
Hence, it is recommended that you get at least 8-9 hours of sleep for your overall health and well-being.
Here are some tips to help you get quality sleep at night and improve your focus in the day;
- Avoid taking coffee and other caffeinated beverages before bedtime.
- Turn off all electronic devices such as your tv, phones that could prevent you from going to bed on time.
- Make your sleeping environment cool and quiet to ensure you sleep comfortably.
- It is also advisable to take a shower and engage in some relaxing activities before you sleep.
Eat Well and Maintain a Healthy Diet
Starving yourself and not eating properly leads to low energy levels and a lack of concentration.
Just as gas is needed to keep a vehicle moving, food is needed to keep the mind and body active.
Likewise, certain nutrients such as protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, fatty acids are needed to keep the mind active.
Starving yourself by skipping breakfast would make you go hungry during the day, and when you’re hungry makes it hard to focus or concentrate on anything else other than your rumbling tummy.
Hence, make it a habit always to eat breakfast, and not just any breakfast but a healthy one filled with all the proper nutrients and minerals.
Stimulate Your Environment
This is another thing you could do to improve your focus.
By this we mean, tweaking your environment to improve your focus.
This could start by creating a productive workspace for yourself.
When you have the perfect environment that stimulates a healthy workflow and keeps your energy levels up, staying focused becomes easier.
Here are some ideas on how to create a productive workspace for yourself.
- Keep your workspace as minimal and clutter-free as possible: avoid having too many items and documents around your workspace. Make use of the drawer to organize your stuff appropriately.
- Also, minimize distractions by limiting the number of electronic devices around you: Your phones should be put away in the drawer during working hours, and TVs should be turned off if they distract you from your work.
- Ensure your workspace is properly ventilated and allows for natural lighting in-flow; another option could be to use natural light bulbs.
- If you love plants or artificial flowers, make sure to have some in your workspace.
- Also, if there are so many external distractions (noise from people or objects), you could consider using headphones to shut out the noise around you.
Overall, a clutter-free and nicely organized workplace will help you stay focused and motivated.
Distracting thoughts also make it difficult to stay focused.
Very often, our minds tend to wander off to other things outside of our present moment.
Research shows that an average person has about 6,200 thoughts per day.
This means that the human mind is wired to process so many thoughts per time and wander from one thought to the others, making it difficult to achieve focus and concentration.
Due to this, you can easily lose track of what you’re doing at that moment and focus on your wandering thoughts.
Hence, the need for you to practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness is all about being aware of the present moment.
With mindfulness, you can stay alert and easily notice when your mind starts drifting off and recall your focus back to where it ought to be at the moment.
You can develop mindfulness by engaging in mindfulness practice or exercises such as meditation or yoga.
Thus helping you avoid distractions and improve your focus.
Exercises are a great way to build stamina and agility for both the body and the mind.
Research shows that physical activity boosts the brain’s dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels because they directly affect focus and attention.
Hence, by imbibing a habit of exercise, you can boost these neurotransmitters’ overall functioning and improve your focus.
Similarly, engaging in concentration exercises and games such as concentrating on an object for 10 to 15 minutes can also change your concentration level.
Likewise, puzzle games can also improve your mental agility and give you the mental stamina to hold your concentration on something for a long time.
Consider Using To-do and/or Not to-do Lists
This is another helpful tip for improving your focus.
It’s all about making your tasks more manageable and improving your productivity.
Most times, when you have many tasks to handle, it can become cumbersome and overwhelming.
Furthermore, having a list of too many things to do in your mind makes it more difficult to get anything done.
Rather than focusing on the tasks at hand, you’ll find yourself thinking about how many tasks you have to complete and how you’re running out of time.
Hence the need for to-do lists and/or not-to lists.
Your to-do list will contain a list of tasks you have to handle either in a day or more.
On the other hand, a not-to-do list is a list of time-wasting activities or tasks you should ignore.
Creating lists would help you put things in perspective and allow for easy workflow.
With a to-do list, you can focus on one task at a time and progress to the next one while you slowly check tick completed tasks off your list.
Depending on which works best for you, you could choose to use a to-do list or a not-to-do list, or both.
Reduce Your Stress Levels
Overworking yourself too much can lead to you burning out.
Even more, stress could lead to mental fatigue or exhaustion.
When this happens, it isn’t easy to stay focused.
Hence the need for you to reduce your stress levels by working with breaks.
This means that while you work, ensure to take as many breaks as possible.
Even more, especially as a business owner, when the workload becomes too much for you to handle, you should consider delegating or outsourcing tasks.
Consequently helping you reduce stress and improve your focus.
Final Words on Why Can’t I Focus?
This is it on some of the factors that affect concentration and how to improve your concentration level.
Remember, trying hard to concentrate is counterproductive.
Rather the best way to deal with concentration problems is to identify the source of distraction and factors responsible for lack of concentration.
Only then can you identify the right steps to take to solve your concentration difficulty.
Also, improved focus equals improved productivity.
Use these simple tips to improve your focus and start reaping the benefits.
What are some of the steps you take when you find it difficult to focus?
Please share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.