Do you find yourself unable to concentrate on your work assignments? Do you seem to be forgetting appointments or constantly flicking through your emails or Instagram messages, even when you should be doing something more important? Perhaps your inability to focus is caused by Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), technology overload or something more mundane, such as lack of sleep. Here are five common reasons why adults cannot concentrate, and how to fix the problem.
1. ADHD Causes an Inability to Focus
It isn’t only children who suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). According to Timothy Wilens M.D., the Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard, many adults are diagnosed with ADHD in their late 30s. He puts this down to excessive multitasking as people juggle a demanding career with starting a family, managing a home and numerous other personal obligations. The brain seems to overload, resulting in problems staying alert and focused.
If diagnosed with ADHD, typical treatment includes a stimulant medication, cognitive behavior therapy, and practical help such as using a life coach to get back on track.
2. Technology Overload
We have so many more distractions than 20 years ago. Your cell phone, computer, iPod, personal organizer and other handheld devices demand your immediate attention. Although you downloaded apps to help manage your responsibilities, they seem to simply be demanding more of your time, making it impossible to stay focused on the task in hand.
Take control by limiting checking your emails or social media to once or twice a day. Write a list or commit everything to a day planner so you can prioritize and systematically work through the tasks. Make sure you have some technology-free time to go for a run, bake cookies, participate in a sport or read a non-electronic book.
3. Lack of Sleep
Insomnia can be a common cause of an inability to focus. The National Sleep Foundation study recommends we need at least seven hours of sleep per night to function normally. If you cannot sleep, have interrupted sleep or wake up unrefreshed, then you may need to develop a pre-bedtime routine, including a hot milky drink and relaxing activities.
4. Too Little Exercise
Spending most of your waking hours sitting at a desk or in meetings can cause physical restlessness and poor concentration. Regular exercise stimulates the circulation, sharpens the mind, increases learning and aids memory. Burning off excess energy and releasing those positive endorphins will help battle that inability to focus. Give yoga a try; it’s an ancient remedy for many ailments, including lack of focus.
New challenges stimulate the brain, banishing poor concentration as you get to grips with the new task. Try to make boring jobs more exciting by setting yourself a time limit. Alternatively, you may want to consider a career change.
There are many more reasons why you may have trouble concentrating such as stress, vitamin deficiency (such as lack of B-12), alcohol abuse or lack of job satisfaction. If it goes on long-term, you may need to consult your doctor to help you overcome your inability to focus for your health’s sake.