Seven Tips if You Get Easily Distracted

If you have trouble remembering where you've put things, paying attention to conversations, or finishing projects you start, you're probably easily distracted. The following tips will help.
Seven Tips if You Get Easily Distracted
Elena Sanz

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz.

Last update: 30 September, 2022

If you get easily distracted, your everyday life might be pretty chaotic. You’re probably constantly losing your keys and forgetting important appointments. Also, you find you can’t really pick up the threads of conversation when talking to others, and experience difficulty in focusing on finishing certain of your activities and plans. This can affect your productivity, relationships, and peace of mind. Therefore, it’s important to know some helpful tips for counteracting this trend.

Being easily distracted can be just another personality trait. However, it can also present as a symptom of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder(ADHD) Whatever the case may be, living with your head in the clouds means you miss valuable moments and overlook important information about what’s happening around you. Therefore, having tools that help you focus can be really useful.

Some tips if you get easily distracted

If you’d like to improve in this aspect, be more focused, and have a more organized life, here are some tips.

1. Slow down your racing mind

If you’re easily distracted, you might have a really active mind. Your thoughts flit from one subject to another in a split second. Your head is abuzz with ideas, but this speed prevents you from attending to any specific matter for the necessary time.

Trying different breathing techniques can be really useful. They help you reduce physical and mental activation and, therefore, to be more relaxed and receptive to what’s happening around you. Practicing them regularly will make a considerable difference, and they can also be put into practice at specific times when you need to ‘slow down’.

Woman with eyes closed
Breathing and relaxation exercises are good tools for training concentration.

2. Come back to the here and now

You might find yourself easily distracted because you tend to live excessively in your internal world. You’re probably a creative, dreamy, and introspective individual living in your own rich interior world. However, the lack of contact with reality takes its toll on you.

Mindfulness can be helpful. It assists you in connecting with the present, your environment, and your bodily sensations. It brings you back to the here and now, and by fully engaging with it, you’re better able to pay attention and remember.

3. Use your habits

Habits can become great allies in helping you to be more organized while reducing cognitive wear. If you get used to repeating an action at the same time of day, the inertia generated by repetition will help you not to forget about that task.

For example, if you always put your keys in a bowl by the front door, you’ll end up doing it automatically and will always know where they are. Similarly, if you want to consume more water, but always forget, link it with other actions in your routine. For instance, drink a glass before each meal. Automating the habit will mean you don’t have to remember it every time.

4. Plan and organize your time

Using schedules and agendas can be of great help. Writing down pending tasks helps to consolidate them in your memory. In addition, being able to graphically observe what you have to do during the day is a good way of keeping it at the forefront of your mind.

At the beginning of each day, spend a few minutes reviewing what your day is going to be like, what activities you have to attend to, and how you’re going to organize yourself to accomplish them. Having this in mind from the very first hour of the day can make a real difference.

5. Learn to prioritize

If you’re disorganized and easily distracted, you probably feel like you constantly have a thousand tasks to do. You can’t find the time to start them or you leave them halfway through, as your mental load steadily increases. It could be that having so many things to do is what paralyzes you. In effect, it doesn’t allow you to tackle any of them. Thus, learning to prioritize is key.

List all your obligations and tasks that you have to take care of. Next, assign them a priority order (you can do it by numbers or with traffic light colors). Give the most urgent ones higher scores and start with them, even if they’re the least attractive.

As you complete your tasks and check them off your list, you’ll feel a pleasant sense of satisfaction and reward. It’ll keep you motivated to continue.

6. Take into account your circadian rhythms

It’s often recommended that easily distracted people attend to the tasks they find most difficult early in the day. The idea is to take advantage of the moments of greater lucidity and energy. However, this isn’t the same for everyone. For example, night owls feel more active, focused, and productive in the evenings.

Therefore, knowing your chronotype can help you determine the time of day when you’ll be most productive and focused. Then you can use this time for those tasks that are overwhelming, boring, or unappealing.

Woman with glasses thinking
Knowing what the times of the day are when you perform best is useful to organize yourself.

7. Chew gum

Finally, there’s evidence that chewing gum can help improve cognitive performance. In fact, doing so enhances attention (especially sustained attention), improves mood, relieves stress, reduces sleepiness, and facilitates learning. For these reasons, it can be an effective strategy at certain times.

You can improve your attention and productivity

If you’re easily distracted, find it difficult to focus, pay attention, and maintain an organized routine, don’t despair. Instead of accepting that it’s just the way you are, remember that you can work on improving your attention.

In conclusion, by practicing mindfulness, staying stress-free, and using organizational tools, you’ll find you can be more productive and present in your daily activities.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Hirano, Y., & Onozuka, M. (2015). Chewing and attention: a positive effect on sustained attention. BioMed research international2015.
  • Henry-Benítez, M., Díaz-Mesa, E., Yelmo-Cruz, S., & Gracia-Marco, R. (2013). El cronotipo como modulador de los niveles séricos diurnos de melatonina. Actas esp. psiquiatr41(3), 149-153.
  • Ma, X., Yue, Z. Q., Gong, Z. Q., Zhang, H., Duan, N. Y., Shi, Y. T., … & Li, Y. F. (2017). The effect of diaphragmatic breathing on attention, negative affect and stress in healthy adults. Frontiers in psychology, 874.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.