Career Woman

9 Ways to focus a wandering mind


All minds have a tendency to wander, so if you find it happening to you well at least you know you’re not alone. The problem is that it often seems to happen at the most crucial of times and can affect both your work and your happiness. The good news is that even though it is normal for the mind to wander, it is something that can be helped.

There has been a lot of scientific research put into discovering why our mind wanders. Fortunately, there have also been studies on how to keep it on track and On Stride Financial have put together this infographic with some of the best tips for how to do that.

One of the main reasons for losing focus in the first place is that the brain’s neurons can only survive on their own energy for about 12 seconds. After this they need to recharge with glial cells or glycogen. If they can’t get what they need, they go looking for fuel from other parts of the brain which are demanding their attention.

To stop your mind from wandering and to keep its attention on what you want it to, you can try some of the following strategies:

  1. Find what’s distracting you and visualize isolating it

Often the one thing your mind is being drawn to is quite obvious, such as a new romantic interest or an argument that wasn’t resolved. To help your productivity you can try visualizing the distraction as an image or object, then imagine yourself putting it away in a locked drawer or far away on a desert island or boat.

  1. Fill your mind with something less diverting

Not all distractions are created equal, some are less likely to draw away your attention than others. Listening to music without lyrics, such as orchestral music or instrumentals, can help you to maintain your focus by filling up the other attention “slots” within your mind and has been proven to help concentration.

  1. Caffeine can help

The reputation caffeine has for helping productivity is well-deserved. Research has shown that it raises awareness in the body and mind, making it easier to hold your focus on the task at hand. If you’re feeling your energy or concentration waning, try grabbing a cup of coffee or some dark chocolate which can give you the caffeine boost you need.

  1. Chew to keep focused

If coffee or chocolate aren’t your thing, then chewing gum might help. The University of Cardiff has found through research that the act of chewing gum can lengthen your attention span and improve your alertness overall. To double-down on the effect, the menthol in spearmint gum has extra beneficial effects by helping to relieve stress.

  1. Use breathing exercises

A very simple meditation exercise is to use the natural rhythm of your breathing to bring your focus back. To do this, simply inhale slowly, hold your breath for a second then exhale slowly. Repeat this process 10 times while count slowly and you should find yourself much more focused and with your mind clearer.

  1. Create mental pathways back to the task at hand

If you notice your mind continuously drifting away on unwanted adventures, you can use a simple trick to bring yourself back to where you want to be. When you catch your mind daydreaming, play along and add to the story and lead it back to what you want to be working on. This way, any time it wanders again you can just follow the same path to return to the task at hand.

  1. Draw some simple shapes

The act of scribbling might seem like something that absent-minded people do, but it has actually been shown to help your mind connect different thoughts together. There’s no need to do anything fancy, simple squares, triangles or concentric circles are the right kind of simple activity that aids your brain.

While a wandering mind may be a great source of frustration and even unhappiness, there are solutions to help get it back on track. Try out some of these tips, see which ones work best for you and incorporate them into your routine next time you find your focus going on an adventure.

About John Cole

John writes on behalf of NeoMam Studios. A digital nomad specializing in leadership, digital media, and personal growth topics, his passions include world cinema and biscuits. A native Englishman, he is always on the move, but can most commonly be spotted in the UK, Norway, and the Balkans.

Recommended for you

What Do You Think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *