5 Tips for Staying on Task

We all have those days when focus seems to dangle just out of reach, but here are some ideas on how to stay on point during the daily routine at work or at home:

1. Take a small 5-10 minute break every three hours - It's very difficult to maintain concentration over a long period of time without your thoughts wandering and eventually those thoughts can multiply until they are completely scattered, so taking a break away from the PC, desk, phone or whatever and taking a short walk or stretching keeps the blood circulating and helps cut down on the mental stress.
2. Less coffee/soda and more plain water - Aside from keeping your body hydrated, replacing a cup or two of coffee with water will help you avoid drinking too much caffeine which can lead to dizziness, insomnia, and also makes it difficult to focus.
3. Listen to melodic instrumental music - According to the American Music Therapy Association, music can be used to reduce stress, exercise memory, and relieve pain. Find some relaxing tunes 10-15 minutes a day without any lyrics (classical has been found very effective in studies) to improve cognitive function.
4. Be Mindful - Rather than just chowing down at lunch time or walking down the hall, take time to "stop and smell the roses." Eat slower and try to discern the textures and tastes of the food, count the tiles on the floor, read the notices tacked to the walls, what does that cloud remind you most of? How many different bird calls can you hear? Focus on one small thing you never took time to notice before each day to cut back on "tuning it all out."
5. Stay off/Limit Social Media - When it gets a bit boring, the tendency is to cut through it by checking email or Facebook to give your mind a break. But in reality it is giving it even more data to process as well as potentially adding even more tension when you see something you dislike. One trick is to set time limits of how long and how often you check and start cutting back, another is to set your cell phone out of sight, or even disable notifications for a while.