• We all get distracted at work, but if we don’t nip this problem in the bud, it can become more frequent and more difficult to resolve.
  • You can try remedying this problem by putting and keeping your phone away: according to recent research, your phone can be a distraction even when you aren’t on it.
  • It can also help to analyze your sleep patterns: are you getting enough sleep? Is something prohibiting you from sleeping well? Identify and then fix this issue.
  • Additionally, ask yourself if you’re lacking the necessary motivation: if the answer is yes, try to find fulfillment in your job again.
  • Listening to music and taking small breaks throughout the day can also help you to concentrate and keep your mind on task at work.
  • Finally, grounding techniques can help as well; you can use your five senses to get out of your head and refocus on what’s in front of you.

I’m sure you’ve had one of those days where work is just dragging on and on. Every time you look at the clock, it’s barely moved an inch… even though it feels like it’s well past five and well past the time to go home. It’s normal to have these days here and there, but it’s when these days become more and more common that you might have a problem on your hands. Whatever the case, the following professional tips can help you refocus your mind at work, stay on task, and get to the root of the problem at hand:

1) Put your phone away! Itamar Shatz, a PhD candidate at Cambridge University and author of Solving Procrastination, offers a simple yet vital piece of advice: put your phone far, far away. “Recent research has shown that simply having your phone out on your desk while you work draws on your limited cognitive resources, and therefore, makes it more difficult for you to concentrate, a phenomenon which researchers refer to as brain drain,” he explains. “The solution to this is to create as much psychological distance as you can from your phone, in order to reduce its negative influence. The easiest way to do this is to put your phone somewhere you can’t see it or interact with it while you work, such as inside your bag or inside a closed drawer.”

2) Look at your sleep habits. It’ll also help to think about how you’ve been sleeping lately, as exhaustion can make it very difficult to focus on your work, or anything for that matter. “If you are traveling for work, I wouldn’t underestimate the toll it can take on you and your overall wellbeing,” says Helen Godfrey, licensed professional counselor. “Even if the time zone is only an hour or two different than your home state’s, it can catch up to you. Is there another reason you are not getting enough sleep? Too much caffeine late in the day? Worry? Loud neighbors? What is 1 thing you can do to resolve this issue?”

3) Think about your motivations or lack thereof. Ask yourself if you’ve lost your motivation or drive to get the job done. “If you’ve lost track of your why for the job, then try to look for the fulfilling and interesting aspects of your job and how your job contributes to the greater whole,” Lisa Larsen, licensed psychologist, recommends. “Maybe you are underchallenged at work and ready to take on more responsibility or complexity. If that’s the case, maybe it’s time to talk to your boss about a new position (if one is available) that makes use of your talents and experience.”

4) Plug in. Another simple tip that could help is plugging in and listening to some music, especially if you find yourself distracted by little noises around your workspace. “Working at the office comes with plenty of distracting noises. You can overhear colleagues having a conversation, someone snacking on a bag of chips, and even phones ringing. With your headphones in, you won’t be able to be distracted by all of those little things. It will help you stay in the zone,” Caleb Backe, health and wellness expert, explains.

5) Take little breaks throughout the day. You could also find success in breaking your worktime down into mini-sessions, as this will allow you to take a few moments to just relax. “Even 5 minutes of relaxation allows us to recharge our mental batteries and this improves focus, problem-solving abilities, creativity, and wellbeing. The best way to get started is to have several mini-sessions throughout the day,” says Milana Perepyolkina, international bestselling author. “During the day, take a short break and sit quietly with your eyes closed. Breathe slowly and deeply for about 5 minutes. Tense and relax all muscles in your body. Breathe in and hold your breath for a few seconds, breathe out, and hold your breath again. You will notice that you have no thoughts while you are holding your breath.”

6) Ground yourself. Finally, try grounding techniques. “If you keep finding yourself lost in thought and unable to be present and engaged in your work, this is a helpful tool to practice,” says Mental Health Counselor Karly Hoffman. “Grounding means to practice engaging your five senses to bring you back to the ‘here and now’ moment. So, for example: Scan the room and notice 5 things you see, 4 things you feel, 3 things you hear, 2 things you smell, and if possible 1 thing you taste. This gets you out of your internal experience enough to refocus on what you need to. It can be challenging at first,
but with practice very helpful.”