Things to do when you can’t focus on work + tips if you have ADHD

ADHD-Friendly Tips for Regaining Focus and Productivity

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Do you find yourself struggling to concentrate on your work? Do you often get distracted and find it difficult to stay on task? If so, you’re not alone. Many people struggle with focus and concentration, especially in today’s fast-paced world where there are so many distractions competing for our attention.

Or if you’re like myself, you may have ADHD and find you can’t focus unless the work meets certain quality checks around: Am I interested in it? Do I get something out of it (learn, reward, etc)? Or is it straight forward enough that I’m not overwhelmed with the idea?

Fortunately, there are several strategies you can use to help improve your focus and get more done. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most effective techniques for staying on task and achieving your goals.

Human Productivity – You are not a machine

Recent studies are suggesting that the 8 hour work day is becoming an archaic approach to productivity and many companies are moving to outcomes vs outputs for this reason. There have even been some companies testing shorter work days; albeit with mixed results.

These companies expect people to still keep focus for 5 straight hours when, if you follow human circadian rhythms, there are peaks and drops that will coincide with bursted efforts of time vs bulk and straight through time frames.

It’s important that we find a balance and extend grace to ourselves; the last few years (2020+) have been challenging in an unprecedented way and we are simply not productive machines so as new articles come out, explaining how productivity has dropped recently… let us stop and a take a breath to remember, we’re human.

And as Leantime grows, if any of this resonates with you — be sure to keep an eye out as we expand and begin to open positions. When the people are healthy, so is the company.

Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn for the most up to date listings.

The Tips to Help Improve Focus at Work

Take a Break

Sometimes the best way to improve your focus is to take a break. This may seem counterintuitive but research has shown that taking regular breaks can actually help to improve productivity and concentration.

When you take a break, it gives your brain a chance to rest and recharge. This can help to reduce fatigue and increase your ability to concentrate when you return to your work.

Try taking a short break every 60 to 90 minutes, and use this time to stretch, take a walk, or do something else that’s relaxing and rejuvenating.

And if you feel like a break isn’t helpful or that there’s no time, please read this article showing brain scans of Microsoft employees as they underwent video call after video call and the impact breaks between calls made.

The ADHD Work Focus Version

The following tips below will include suggestions and I’ll separate out things I know that can be beneficial to those with ADHD or ADD as well. The advice on taking a break, though? That applies to everyone so nothing more to note here.

Eliminate Distractions or more realisticly, Limit them

One of the biggest challenges to focus is the presence of distractions. Whether it’s social media, email notifications, or other interruptions, these distractions can make it difficult to stay on task.

To improve your focus, try to eliminate as many distractions as possible. Turn off your phone or set up those fancy new “modes” to your phone, close your email inbox, and log out of social media accounts on your computer.

The ADHD Work Focus Version

Now, if you have ADHD — remembering to do any of those steps to eliminate distraction may be harder than other things. I find the best thing for myself is to limit external distractions (extra noises and interruptions — you’ll find me writing articles after hours a lot).

The second thing that I find helps is that if I’m taking regular breaks — those regular breaks (that are rejuvenating vs tik tok doom scrolling) help eliminate the need to get distracted when the work is too daunting.

Set Goals & Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize those tasks

Another effective way to improve your focus is to set clear goals and prioritize your tasks. What exactly do you plan to accomplish today? When you have a clear understanding of what you need to accomplish and the order in which you need to do it, it can help you to stay on track and avoid distractions.

Start by making a list of the tasks you need to complete, and then prioritize them based on their importance and deadline. This can help you to stay focused on the most critical tasks and avoid getting bogged down in less important work.

This sounds a little like project management… Yes. We should do this for our day, too.

The ADHD Work Focus Version

It is really really important to balance the question, “What do you want to accomplish today?” for the person with ADHD or ADD. If you aim too high, you may find yourself overwhelmed and not getting anything done. Aim too low and the work doesn’t feel accomplishing enough to feel like you made a dent — also demotivating.

As you make your list, be sure to do a feelings check: is this reasonable? Can I do this? before moving on to the next thing.

Break Tasks into Smaller Chunks

Large tasks can be overwhelming, and they can make it difficult to stay focused. To make them more manageable, try breaking them down into smaller, more manageable chunks.

For example, if you need to write a 2,000-word report, break it down into smaller sections and set a goal to complete each section within a certain timeframe. This can help you to stay focused and avoid feeling overwhelmed by the task at hand.

The ADHD Work Focus Version

While this may work for some people, it again ties into the point around making a list. If you aren’t careful, the tasks may still be either too big or so small that you end up feeling ‘meh’ about it and not making progress.

Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro technique is a time-management method that can help to improve focus and productivity. It involves breaking your workday into 25-minute chunks, with a five-minute break in between each session.

During each 25-minute session, you focus solely on your work without any distractions. Once the 25 minutes is up, you take a short break to recharge before starting the next session.

This technique can be especially useful for people who struggle with focus and concentration, as it provides a structured and manageable approach to getting work done.

The ADHD Work Focus Version

This can be especially helpful for those daunting-it’s-too-much tasks. Taking it a step up, though, you can also look at combining time boxing / pomodoro methods with body doubling. There are now platforms that will help you manage body doubling and you can incorporate this into that for another level.

Get Organized

A cluttered workspace can be a significant source of distraction and can make it challenging to stay focused. To improve your focus, try to keep your workspace organized and free from clutter.

Start by decluttering your desk and getting rid of anything that isn’t necessary. Then, organize your work materials and supplies in a way that makes them easy to access and use.

You can also try using tools like project management software or to-do lists to keep track of your tasks and deadlines. These tools can help you to stay organized and on top of your work; which can help to improve your focus and productivity.

The ADHD Work Focus Version

Uh… this goes one of two ways: You either got this or Just Kidding. The reality is, though, there is something to this — particularly for me. This may go either way for you so take it with a grain of salt — especially if it means if you start cleaning, then you end up not working at all.

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a technique that involves paying attention to the present moment without judgment. This can be an effective way to improve focus and concentration, as it helps to reduce the distractions and mental chatter that can pull your attention away from your work.

Try taking a few minutes each day to practice mindfulness meditation. You can do this by finding a quiet place to sit, focusing on your breath, and bringing your attention back to your breath whenever your mind wanders.

If breathing doesn’t work for you, I’d suggest to start with food. Being mindful is also about feeling your body and being present. Start with your favorite treat. To be mindful, pay attention to the flavors as the food dances on your tongue. Notice the textures, the sensations, the smells. Describe them to yourself.

Over time, this practice can help to improve your ability to concentrate and stay focused.

The ADHD Work Focus Version

Nothing to add. I think we all benefit from mindfulness.

Get enough Sleep ZzzZzz

Finally, it’s important to recognize the role that sleep plays in focus and concentration. When you don’t get enough sleep, it can be difficult to stay alert and focused during the day.

Make sure to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night to help improve your focus and concentration during the day. If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, try implementing a consistent sleep routine, avoiding caffeine and electronics before bed, and creating a relaxing environment in your bedroom.

The ADHD Work Focus Version

My hyperfocus often means I don’t sleep enough or well because I’ll pick the focus first. This has been a challenge for me but the notes are true — even if challenging. It’s important to find the balance for you in making sure the sleep is there.

The end of focus & productivity tips

In conclusion, improving your focus and concentration is an essential part of achieving your goals and staying productive. By using the strategies outlined in this article, you can reduce distractions, break tasks into manageable chunks, and practice mindfulness to stay on task and achieve your goals.

Remember to take breaks, prioritize your tasks, and get enough sleep to stay focused and productive. With time and practice, you can train your brain to stay focused and achieve more in less time.

You’ve got this. For everything else, there’s Leantime.

Gloria Folaron is the CEO and founder of Leantime. A Nurse first, she describes herself as an original non-project manager. Being diagnosed with ADHD later in life, she has hands on experience in navigating the world of project and product management and staying organized with ADHD.

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