'I couldn't focus until I started doing these four things.'

I have an embarrassing confession to make... I'm really bad at concentrating.

It's something I've had a problem with since I first began school. Consistently, teachers would write on my report cards that I was eager to learn, but my attention was inconsistent. I was easily distracted.

Even now, in conversations with people I love about topics I am interested in, I see something in the corner of my eye and completely lose my train of thought.

My parents believed I would grow out of it. They boiled it down to me having a "wild imagination".

Alas, I never really did. Sometimes, I can feel my brain folding in on itself. In the moments I'm supposed to hunker down and zone in, I simply... do not.

Speaking of getting distracted, watch this video of when there's a cake in the office. Post continues after video. 

Video via Mamamia.

That's not to say s**t doesn't get done. I'm absolutely not terrible at my job, considering all things. But in 2024, I'm on a mission to control what I can.

Perhaps being easily distracted might never be a trait I can fully stamp out, but I think there are definite ways to better manage it.

To do so, I searched for ways to help me maintain my focus and went to Dr Karl Sebire, a technology and education researcher, for advice.


As an academic and consultant in attention spans, Dr Sebire's PhD explored the difficulty in maintaining focus whether you're a high school student, graduate or in the workforce.

"We wanted to determine at what point does technology become a hindrance instead of an aid," he tells Mamamia. "My main advice is to not be too hard on yourself... I think a lot more people feel like now they've got ADHD or they've got attention problems but really what's happening is that there are 100 more things competing for your attention than they used to be."

Here are the three very random but very helpful things that changed the game for me regarding my concentration.

1. I genuinely tried to steer clear of my phone.

For the last three months, I've done everything to keep my phone out of reach. I locked it in a box... But I broke the box open.

Then I tried to leave the house without it for about an hour while I grocery shopped and grabbed a coffee. But then seven minutes into picking out tomatoes, I realised I needed music to function and that I actually didn't have money because, yanno, cardless cash. So I ran back home to grab it.

And then I discovered how the Do Not Disturb feature called 'Work Focus' that allows you to choose what apps and which people you allow notifications from.

I block all notifications except for Slack (the messaging software I use for work), my editors' phone numbers and any calls or messages that come from my housemate.

It's halved my screen time because now I really am only on my phone at night when I have downtime.


Look, it's not a perfect situation, but I am trying. Besides, Dr Sebire told me it's not a good idea to be checking my phone constantly throughout the day anyway so at least I've managed to be better at that...

"Even if you check a message when working on something and it only takes 30 seconds, it can take between six or seven minutes to refocus because your mind has been taken to a different domain," he explains. "So eliminating those distractions and also being conscious of how often you're turning to your device is really important."

2. I have brain breaks. Often.

Sometimes, what I used to do when I felt like my brain was crashing and I had a lot of work to do, I'd run to the bathroom and sit there for a good 5-15 minutes until I felt like I could focus again.

Essentially, I was struggling in silence. One day, my manager asked me if I was okay because I had gone to the restroom a few times already and it was only the early afternoon. I wasn't in trouble, she was just concerned.

I confessed that I wasn't actually using the restroom but taking a break from my work. I didn't realise that almost everyone needs some stimulation aside from their job every few hours or so. She encouraged me to take a lap around the office if I felt myself losing focus or to switch up my view by moving to a different desk or comfy couch.

I have kept her advice close to me. Now, I have a few "brain breaks" a day before getting stuck back into my work.

3. I played one game consistently.

Ever heard of Sudoku? Because right now, it's my favourite game.


Essentially, it's a number puzzle game with a 9x9 grid. To play, you must fill each row, column, and 3x3 sub-grid with digits 1-9, ensuring no repetition.

I started playing about eight or nine months ago, when I realised how long I was spending on TikTok (I won't be sharing the number of hours, I'm embarrassed enough).

As it turns out, I'm pretty freaking good. So good that I begged my friends for physical books of the game for my birthday to see if I was better without the bright blue lights of a screen. Unsurprisingly, I am.

I'm pretty sure I am really good at Sudoku? Image: Supplied.


The best part is that Sudoku is recommended for those who want to improve their memorisation and concentration skills because your memory works alongside logic to figure out the puzzle.

I must say I do feel smarter every time I play.

4. Soundproof headphones.

I'm about to sound really silly right now, but I have never really owned headphones... As in, before my housemate bought me a pair for my birthday in December 2023, I literally had not owned earphones for about 15 months.

I would simply just scroll around through apps on my phone if I was out in public. I had nothing to break me away from the noise of real life.

When I unwrapped my headphones, I had no idea just how much having them would revolutionise my daily life. I take walks by myself now. I enjoy long bus rides too, by choice.

I've zoomed through almost a dozen audiobooks and podcasts without faltering or losing focus.

"This addition to my daily routine has essentially changed the way I function." Image: Supplied.


And when I work, I use the noise-cancellation feature to completely zone out. The world seems to halt. I either hear utter silence or quiet chatter that feels like it is occurring far away from my desk rather than beside it.

Using this feature has allowed me to zone in on my work and remain interested in what I'm doing because there is much less distraction. I either have some calming music or headphones on my head with nothing playing.

This addition to my daily routine has essentially changed the way I function.

Now I won't say I'm perfect yet. I still get distracted. I often will look for an excuse to avoid doing what is right in front of me.

But I know I'm getting better as time goes on. And who knows? Maybe someday, I'll be back to tell you all about how I cured my once-crippling, poor attention span.

What tricks do you use to stay focused? Tell us in the comments section below.

Feature Image: Supplied.