Skip to main content

Do you often come to the end of your day and wonder where the day went? Are the items on your “to do” list barely touched? Maybe instead of staying focused and moving forward on your priorities, you drift from one thing to another, never finishing anything. You float through the day distracted by thoughts that pop into your brain with no sense of focus. You spend time looking for items you just used like your phone, your scissors, or even your cup of coffee. If this sounds like you, help is at hand. I have four tips to help you focus.

A multitude of thoughts

 The average person has about 48.6 thoughts per minute. This constant barrage of thoughts prevents us from staying focused on our tasks at hand. Consequently, we arrive at the end of our day exhausted and wonder what we have accomplished.

We can’t really stop the thoughts from coming into our brain, but we can control how we handle them and give our productivity a boost.

Here are 4 things you can do to help yourself focus:

1. Prioritize

Each day make a list of what you want to accomplish. Be mindful of what is important now and choose 3 things on which to focus. Schedule a time to work on them on your calendar. Break down the tasks into small components and do focused work on them for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Set a timer. During that time if an email reminder comes in or an unrelated thought pops into your head, make a note of that interruption and then turn your focus back onto the task at hand. Don’t try to speed things up in order to save time. This just makes you think of what you need to do next. Your brain needs to focus on what is in front of you now.

2. Take breaks

After your timer goes off take a break. Every 15 to 20 minutes take a five-minute break to stretch your legs and clear your mind. Drink some water. Look at cat videos. Do a breathing meditation. Do whatever refreshes you. At the end of your break, resume your task. After about an hour of this cycle, take a longer break. Refresh yourself and clear your mind. This is also called the Pomodoro Technique.

3. Heighten your awareness

When taking your breaks be aware of your body and your surroundings. As you sit, are you relaxed in your chair or are you holding your body tight? As you drink your water or other beverage, how does it taste? How does it feel in your mouth? Are you feeling warm or cold? Do you feel a breeze? What are you hearing?

Practicing mindfulness allows you to have more control over your stress and emotions. Reflect on how you are feeling and what you want to change. You will be in a much better place to return to your tasks.

 4. Implement routines

Some sources suggest that we make 35,000 choices a day. While that number seems very high, let’s acknowledge that we make lots of choices every day. The more routines we can put into place, the fewer decisions we must make.

Do I get out of bed at 5:00 am or 7:00 am?  Do I shower now or in the evening? What do I eat? Should I do the laundry today?

If you have a set time to get up and a set time to shower, you don’t even have to think about it, you just do it. If you have planned your meals, you just eat and move on.

Plan when you intend to do your household chores. If you always do your laundry on Saturday, you don’t have to make that decision over and over. Plan when to clean, shop, or pay bills. Implementing routines will eliminate some of those thoughts that interfere with getting your priorities done. Put together a chart and place it where you will see it as a reminder to follow your routines.

In Conclusion

A cluttered racing mind full of scattered thoughts will leave you overwhelmed and unable to focus. Slow down, simplify your day, reduce your choices, and let some things go. When you do this, you will find that you accomplish more, know what you’ve accomplished, and will still have some energy at the end of the day.

For a deeper understanding of the importance and the development of routines as well as an opportunity to ask questions, sign up for our next monthly Lunch ’n Learn with Diane and Jonda class on August 18th . The topic this month is Falling Back into Routines. It is a one-hour class beginning at noon ET on Zoom and costs $19.95. Email Diane ( ) to register.

Jonda S. Beattie, Professional Organizer owner of Time Space Organization, and co-owner of Release, Repurpose, Reorganize. She is based in the Metro-Atlanta area. As presenter, award-winning author, as well as a retired special education teacher she uses her listening skills, problem solving skills, knowledge of different learning techniques, ADHD specialty, and paper management skills to help clients.




  • It’s so easy to lose focus. I love your tips for staying on track. And with all the thoughts and decisions we make in a minute or day, it’s no wonder our focus sometimes gets compromised.

    It also doesn’t help how intrusive our digital lives have become. As you encouraged, practicing boundaries, using short work sprints with the timer, taking breaks to hydrate or move around, and implementing mindfulness strategies are excellent ways to increase focus and reduce distractions.

    Putting some boundaries around digital dings and buzzes can also help. I turned off most of my notifications a few years ago, and my focus ability increased.

  • Seana Turner says:

    Routines are so powerful. I’m starting to think we should start talking to children about habits and routines, and helping them truly understand how important they are. It’s helpful to see that the habits can either help us or harm us, and that we have the powerful to influence the ones we form.

    Heightening your awareness is often the first step, as so often we aren’t paying attention. I sat here just now and took a minute to take in my surroundings and evaluate what thoughts are running through my mind. Very helpful1

  • Kim says:

    Great tips for keeping focus. I need to get better at planning out my day and focusing on three most important tasks. I tend to have it all in my head and I get a. lot done but maybe not the best strategy or routine. I love the Pomodoro Technique and pulse it a lot especially for writing but its good for other things as well.

  • Kim says:

    These are great tips to help people to keep focus. I need to get better at making a daily plan for my day. I tend to do a lot and have it all in my head so having more of a routine would be helpful. Even a to do list is helpful. I love the Pomodoro Technique and use it a lot especially for writing but it comes in handy for other tasks as well.

  • Julie+Bestry says:

    48 thoughts per minute sounded high until I actually thought about what I was thinking at any given moment. Yup. It’s accurate. And yes, we can think about more than one thing simultaneously (just not very well). After all, we walk and carry a laundry basket and bend ourselves to avoid hitting the corner of something jutting out and think about at least a few things bothering us and that we have to accomplish. Our past, present, and future is all racing in our head!

    I manage to implement three of your four excellent strategies. I’m all about prioritizing, taking breaks, and using routines. I’m still terrible at mindfulness, but I’ll keep trying. I suspect I’m the kind of person who is good at focusing on tasks because I’m so avoidance of mindfulness of anything other than the tasks? And I live for a modified Pomodoro — basically, I double the 25 standard minutes to 50 and then take a longer break, because that’s the perfect amount of time for me to write something. This is all great advice.

Skip to content