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chels's avatar

What do you do when you really can't focus?

Asked by chels (6784points) April 26th, 2010

Usually I’m pretty good about keeping myself focused, especially when it comes to schoolwork however lately and more importantly right now I just cannot seem to keep my attention on what I need to be doing for more than a few moments.
Sometimes this happens when I’m reading something that I’m uninterested in but right now that isn’t the case. I’m literally staring at the words in my book and not really reading or comprehending what they’re saying. It’s as if I’m just reading a bunch of letters that are all just empty with no meaning.

So what are some things I can do to try to hold my focus on something for more than a minute?
To do lists aren’t helping me either, just so you know!

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39 Answers

wonderingwhy's avatar

Usually I just go and do something else for an hour or two. Get away from the task at hand and do something completely different, I find exercise also works in that situation. I don’t worry about it, don’t think about it, just immerse myself in something else then when I’m done, I’m usually able to get back to what I started with with renewed focus and energy.

Ria777's avatar

like @wonderingwhy said, though it would help to set a timer to go off at the end of the hour. I also find it good to take a hot bath.

chels's avatar

@wonderingwhy My problem is that I have to finish what I’m doing by a certain time, so I really can’t go off and do something else. Plus usually when I do that, I just get even more A.D.D.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Find the misunderstood word or words and look them up. Go back to the area you had focus in, and near the end of that section is at least one misunderstood word.

It could even be an unfamiliar, unusual or archaic meaning to a word you think you already know well. (But the chances are that if you’re not already very familiar with looking up words that you can’t give snap definitions to many words at all.)

chels's avatar

@CyanoticWasp It’s not that I’m misunderstanding the words, I know what the words mean. It’s that I can’t focus on the words. So I read and read and retain no knowledge. Also, I have been taking notes on what I’m reading. It’s not helping either.

sleepdoc's avatar

How much coffee did you drink today?

nikipedia's avatar

1. Coffee.
2. Change of environment. Maybe you need to be somewhere absolutely silent with no distractions (library) or maybe you work better with a low ambient buzz (coffee shop)?
3. Set small goals. Like, really small. E.g., reading for five minutes or getting through just… one… page. Getting started is often the hardest part.
4. If all else fails, go for a run and try again when I get back.

Good luck!

sleepdoc's avatar

@chels do you typically study in quiet or with some background noise?

chels's avatar

@sleepdoc Depends on the day. Right now it’s pretty much quiet, but I can hear some cars on the road outside, it’s not enough to distract me or bother me though. I can pretty much tune things out of need be.

YoH's avatar

Get fresh air and take a brisk walk. Breathe deep and observe the world around you. The elements are powerful mind refreshers. This helps me to focus effectively.

sleepdoc's avatar

Hmmm well .. too much caffeine and too much noise are normally what get me where you are. Unless I am just over tired.

rebbel's avatar

Really, the one thing that helps me i a situation like that, is to leave the book/task/project and do something completely else for a bit.
It doesn’t need to be something that takes another hour of your time.
Just do the dishes, collect the mail, walk the dog, pet the cat, drink a tea, etc.
If you stay staring at the letters you’ll also loose important time, maybe even more then when you do one of the aboves.

wundayatta's avatar

A lot of times I lose focus when I’m sleepy. Just hard to keep my eyes open. A nap might help. Coffee—perhaps. Eating some food. Or a break where I talk to someone else or do something physical.

chels's avatar

@wundayatta I thought about napping however it’s already 6:30pm here. If I nap now I won’t be able to sleep. I did make some tea though!

wundayatta's avatar

@chels There you go! Maybe jump around a bit, too. Put some music on and get your heart pumping. That should keep you more focused for a while.

chels's avatar

@wundayatta Music is turned on. Let the dancing commence.

wundayatta's avatar

@chels What are we listening to?

Cruiser's avatar

I take Adderall. Just kidding!! Call me old fashioned, but I was shocked as hell to see on 60 minutes last night how many college students are taking Adderall and other ADHD drugs to improve their study habits and learning ability! HS 50%+ kids are chomping down these drugs like PEZ just to get better grades!!;cbsCarousel

chels's avatar

@wundayatta Lots of different things though right now I’m kind of in an Eric Clapton mood.

chels's avatar

@Cruiser Yeah I used to be on Adderall in high school. My thing is that I don’t need to take it all the time, if I was just able to take it when I need it that would be perfect. But that’s not really how that stuff works.

Cruiser's avatar

@chels What I found interesting in last night’s report is amongst the “normal” students who took it that they were adamant that it helped them big time score better and get the work done faster. There was even a scientist who supported the use of this drug in that if it could make people smarter and work more efficiently that she hypothesized that it could lead to better discoveries and better more effective “cures”! hmmmmm….

chels's avatar

@Cruiser Adderall is okay when needed however I don’t think it should be taken on a daily basis. When I started taking it daily, it gave me bad side effects. When I cut down and only took it every once in a while I found it to be more effective with less to no side effects.

Cruiser's avatar

@chels They did say that people who were prescribed or needed the medicine reacted differently to it than the people who are using it to boost performance. Either way a drug is a drug and IMO should not be taken unless prescribed and or really needed!

chels's avatar

@Cruiser Absolutely! :D

stratman37's avatar

Ginkgo Biloba and Peppermints. And give yourself a reward for sticking it out for 30 minutes (like maybe some ice cream or to watch your favorite show).

Berserker's avatar

I think about the booze I’m most likely going to consume later on, so it motivates me to focus, or something.

downtide's avatar

Coffee and computer games.

jerv's avatar

Caffeine and/or nicotine.

chels's avatar

@jerv Shhhhhh. Don’t say the “N” word. I just quit smoking. (for now)

Sophief's avatar

I think the answer you are looking for is love. Your in love.

chels's avatar

@Sophief Hahah. Yeah, I’m in love, but that doesn’t cause me not to focus. A.D.D does.

sleepdoc's avatar

@chels did you manage to get it read?

chels's avatar

@sleepdoc I did! I ended up with a 95% on the test I had to take as well. :D I pretty much tried every suggestion, so they all definitely helped!

sleepdoc's avatar

@chels glad to hear it!

beautifulbobby193's avatar

Masturbate. A lot of people I know wanked like crazy while they were off studying for exams.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

It’s misunderstood words, whether you care to acknowledge it or not.

Boomdizzle's avatar

Get away from it for a while – take a walk, change your scenery, try to get it off your mind. Then, come back to it with a fresh attitude.

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