If your mind is wandering at work, you could try some of these research-backed methods to help you get back on track.
Don’t beat yourself up if you find it hard to focus – it’s a pretty common trait across all humanity. We’re not machines, and so our minds occasionally wander.
As we’ve discussed before, however, sometimes our minds can wander even when deadlines loom and it’s vitally important that we remain focused on the task at hand. Even when there are a variety of external motivating factors, it can still be difficult to bring your attention back to the present. So, what gives?
A lot of the human brain is still a mystery to researchers, but scientists such as Peter Killeen have attempted to map a framework for how the seeds of a wandering mind are sown on a physical level, which they have called the neurogenetics theory.
According to the theory, the brain’s neurons require a consistent source of energy to keep tipping over. They look to glial cells and glycogen stores for this energy. If these are found lacking, the neurons function at a diminished capacity and other parts of the brain start to bid for attention, causing the mind to wander.
Luckily, there are things you can do to prevent this from happening, and On Stride has gone to the trouble of compiling them into this infographic.
For example, listening to music while you work can aid concentration. It may sound counterintuitive, but research from University College London concludes that adding distractions reduces distractibility. You’re essentially filling all the ‘slots’ in your mind and not giving anything else opportunity to grab your attention.
Another solution, albeit one most are already both familiar with and actively practising, is to grab a cup of coffee. A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease identifies the link between caffeine and cognition.
Even just being more aware of your own thoughts, such as consciously calling yourself out when you lose your focus, can help to motivate you to get back on track.
For some more advice on what to do if you’re struggling to focus, check out the infographic below.