Struggling to Focus on Work? Try These 15 Strategies To Recenter

When you're having trouble buckling down and focusing, taking a step back to ground yourself can help you get back on track.

Newsweek Expert Forum members share industry insights.
Newsweek Expert Forum

Some days, it's easy to lock into a productive mindset and get everything done efficiently. Other days, it's a little (or a lot) harder to maintain that focus.

This can be especially challenging when you're on a tight deadline or have many competing priorities. Whether you're feeling overwhelmed, exhausted or simply "out of it," you know you need to recalibrate, but might not be sure where to begin.

To help you recenter and get your work done, 15 members of Newsweek Expert Forum share their tried-and-true tips.

1. Turn Off All Notifications and Distractions

It's important to recognize that taking breaks is important to your ability to focus. During your day, give yourself short times of focused work—turning off all notifications and distractions—and then take small breaks. The Pomodoro Technique does this! If you are stressed or agitated, take some time for a change of scene, take a quick walk or recenter with some deep breaths. - Robbin McManne, Parenting for Connection

2. Honor Your Natural Rhythms

Honor your ultradian rhythms to be at your best. We've all heard of our circadian rhythms but few of us have heard of our ultradian rhythms. Over a course of a day, our energy levels and mental focus peak and trough through roughly 110-minute cycles. We are at our mental best for 90 minutes and then need downtime for 20 minutes. Honor this cycle and watch your focus and productivity grow. - Kevin Vallely, The AIP Group

3. Get Out of Your Own Way

In writing for health tech every day for 15 years, writer's block is as much a part of my day as checking emails and jonesing for that third cup of coffee. After years of berating myself each time I felt my focus wane, I finally realized that the only way to get work done is to get out of your own way. Understand that the pressure to perform comes from you alone, so do what you can, when you can. - Kayleen Brown, TMG360 Media, LLC

4. Write Down Your Next Focus

Success takes execution, not just planning, and execution takes focus. We live in a world filled with noise and distractions. I stay focused by writing down the next milestone or task I need to get done and posting it on the wall where I work. That way, every time I sit down to work, I am reminded of the most critical thing I need to do next and I can focus on just that task. - Jeff Hoffman, Global Entrepreneurship Network

5. Examine Your Thoughts

Examine what thoughts are keeping you from staying focused on the work at hand. Is it work you're not excited about doing? Are you putting undue pressure on yourself to complete a project? Have you convinced yourself you're facing an impossible task? We forget about the power of our thoughts and how they control our actions, so if we think we can't focus, we won't. - Carol Parker Walsh, Carol Parker Walsh Consulting, LLC

6. Write Down All Your Tasks and Objectives

When I need to refocus or get back on track, I create a list of all my tasks and objectives. I prioritize these from the easiest to knock out to the more complex. For me, it's best to clear out the quicker tasks first, this way I build up the confidence to get through the larger and more complex tasks. By taking care of the less intensive work, I'm able to fully focus on the bigger picture. - Sam Jordan, EnviTours

7. Look at the Bigger Picture

Focus on the big picture by asking questions. Why is this task important? What's the upside for getting it done well? What's the downside of inaction? After considering this big picture, incrementally break down the task into small chunks or milestones and take a baby step that you can accomplish immediately to enable you to reach that milestone. With a few baby steps, you have momentum. - Todd Miller, ENRICH: Create Wealth in Time, Money, and Meaning

8. Breathe

It seems so simple but we forget to connect. Just taking a short pause to close your eyes and taking a deep breath can get you back on track. As you breathe in and feel the air in your lungs, tap into that feeling; it's your body's reminder that you're still here on this earth because you have good work to do. Things will be more clear in time but for now—just breathe. - Joyel Crawford, Crawford Leadership Strategies, LLC

9. Step Away from Your Computer

Take a walk, drink some water, do a breathing exercise or stretch. Five to 10-minute breaks are like hitting the reset button on your brain. You will likely come back with more clarity, energy and focus to finish the job. - Jenna Hinrichsen, Advanced RPO

10. Create Physical Space

Remove yourself from your office or location and go for a walk around the block. Do anything you can to get yourself away from your environment. Just standing up will send oxygen to your brain; you'll disconnect so you can reconnect. - Diane Helbig, Helbig Enterprises

11. Stick to a Routine

One way to help recenter yourself and improve focus is to make sure you're sticking to a routine. By creating work patterns, you will naturally train yourself to focus when it's time to focus and allow yourself to disconnect when you take time away from work. It's also very important to create separation between work and home life, which can be achieved with a good routine. - Chloe Alpert, Medinas

12. Make a To-Do List Before You Go to Bed

Every evening before you go to bed make a list answering, "What can I get done by the end of tomorrow to generate more revenue, leads, increase productivity in my team, etc.?" Then calendar in time to do them. We usually follow through on whatever is calendared. - Mark Goulston, Mark Goulston, M.D., Inc.

13. Take a Mini Mind Break

A mini mind break can separate you from your task and let you reset. This break can be a walk around the block or a quick tea or coffee. Some people hit YouTube and watch animal or baby videos (but don't get sucked in too deep). Yoga breathing for a few minutes calms you down. If you know Tai Chi, you can do three minutes and get your mojo back. - Leslie Glass, Reach Out Recovery

14. Listen to Movie Score Soundtracks

I've often found that listening to movie score soundtracks from composers like Hans Zimmer or James Horner has been able to help me focus at work for long periods of time. These tracks have no distracting words and are created to symbolize action, intensity and progress. I'm able to be very productive for longer periods of time and afterwards, I can take a well-earned break. - Brian Meert, AdvertiseMint

15. Bring Your Attention to a Present Sensation

When you find yourself spinning around in your head, reset by bringing your attention back to a present sensation—the breath in your body, your feet on the ground, the sounds around you, your body resting against the chair. This uses a different area of your brain than the area that ruminates and worries. - Dave Mochel, Applied Attention

The Newsweek Expert Forum is an invitation-only network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.
What's this?
Content labeled as the Expert Forum is produced and managed by Newsweek Expert Forum, a fee based, invitation only membership community. The opinions expressed in this content do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Newsweek or the Newsweek Expert Forum.