9 science-backed tips to stay concentrated and avoid distractions

Whether it's fatigue, distractions, lack of motivation, or something else entirely, our inability to focus digs a hole in our productivity and limits our chances of success.

Maintaining focus is equally about taking care of your mental space and your body, as it is grinding through work. By eliminating distractions, investing time in maintaining physical and mental wellness, and instituting healthy habits, you can improve your productivity.

Here are nine tips scientists have found that enhance focus.

Minimise multitasking

Multitaskers might seem superhuman, but they pay a big price, according to a 2009 Stanford study. In a sample of 100 Stanford students, about half identified themselves as media multitaskers. The other half did not.

The test examined attention spans, memory capacity, and ability to switch from one task to the next – and the multitaskers performed more poorly on each test.

Take ginseng

Ginseng is the root of a plant that’s been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years. It is thought to have several health benefits, including regulating blood sugar levels, boosting immunity, and enhancing focus. Studies have confirmed ginseng’s effectiveness in improving attention in those diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), though more research is needed.


Although it’s been around for thousands of years, meditation is finally having a moment. You can find all sorts of books, podcasts, and articles about its benefits. There are retreats and entire businesses dedicated to helping people meditate. There are many great reasons to meditate, including improving focus and concentration. Researchers say our mind wanders about half of the time, which makes it hard to concentrate on just about anything. Meditation can help us reset and bring our attention back to the task at hand. And you don’t have to look very far to learn how to meditate.

Exercise regularly

Exercises like running, swimming, and weight lifting aren't just good for the body. They promote brain health, too, which is important for memory capacity and concentration.

In particular, scientists think regular exercise may help stimulate the release of a chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which some research suggests helps rewire memory circuits to improve their functioning.

Drink some tea

L-theanine is an amino acid found in tea. While most tea has it, there are higher concentrations in green and black tea. L-theanine can also be found as a supplement and may improve cognitive function. In one study, 30 participants were asked to take either L-theanine or placebo tablets for four weeks. Those who took the L-theanine had improved cognitive function, including improvements in executive function and verbal fluency.

Play cognitive training games

It’s important to maintain our brain health so we can think clearly, preserve our memory, and continue to focus. A decade-long study tracked participants as they performed cognitive training exercises. Those participants who participated in cognitive interventions either maintained their level of cognitive function or experienced improvement in brain function. Some examples of cognitive training activities that may train your mind to focus are completing crossword puzzles and playing video games.

Establish a to-do list

To-do lists not only help you prioritise what tasks you need to get done first, but they can also serve as a record of the loose ends.

Moreover, incomplete work could eat away at your concentration. This stems from something called the Zeigarnik Effect, which is the tendency to remember incomplete tasks instead of completed ones.

Researchers explored this Zeigarnik Effect in a 2011 study which found that participants who could plan their work and complete tasks one by one were more likely to stay focused than those participants who were made to go from task to task without completing them.

Try the Pomodoro Method

The Pomodoro Method is a time-blocking technique that can help compartmentalise your tasks into manageable 25-minute intervals. To use the Pomodoro Method work for 25 minutes, taking five minute breaks in between 25 minute intervals. After four of these intervals, you can take a longer 15-30 minute break. This method of time blocking gives you the needed break in between work sessions to help you maintain focus longer and more sustainably.

Eat a brain-boosting diet

Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish, nuts, and supplements. They play a crucial role in the body by fighting off heart disease, joint pain, and even depression, though more research is needed. Omega-3s can also help you focus. In a study performed with healthy adults, omega-3 supplements improved cognitive performance compared to the placebo group.