Do you feel like you can’t focus at work or at home? Feeling scatter-brained is no fun. For one thing, it prevents you from being productive. It also keeps you from enjoying the satisfaction that comes from completing items on your checklist.
And while there are many reasons for a lack of focus, one might be a lack of motivation.
Possible reasons why you're experiencing a lack of focus
There are many different reasons why it’s difficult to focus. For some, it’s being tired and stressed. Another reason could be clinical depression. And while attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a popular diagnosis for people with attention and focus problems, it might be too popular a choice.
In fact, according to Michigan State University, close to 1 million children can be misdiagnosed with ADHD when they, in fact, don’t actually have it.
Sugar is a known culprit when it comes to concentration and focus. Too much refined sugar can actually decrease neural communication and even damage your neurons.
And for people who have gluten sensitivity or intolerance, focusing can be incredibly challenging. Dr. Maios Hadjivassiliou, a world-renowned expert on gluten sensitivity, has boldly said that “gluten sensitivity can be primarily and at times, exclusively a neurological disease.” Therefore, the breakfast, lunch or dinner you eat could be contributing to your lack of focus.
Finally, social media can make it difficult for us to focus when it comes time to work on our to-do list. One reason for this is because the platforms are fast-paced and designed for short attention spans.
As you can see, there are lots of reasons why it’s difficult to focus, but there’s one we’ve not touched on yet, and it can explain why you can’t concentrate when you need (and want) to.
In short, could your lack of focus really be a lack of motivation?
A lot of us think that motivation is this gung-ho feeling of being supercharged and pumped up about your task. And sometimes, motivation does feel like that.
But most of the time, motivation is just the reason(s) for doing or not doing something. Motivation is the “why” behind your action.
Motivation isn’t an emotion
Unfortunately, many of us expect to feel super excited about both our “why” and or “action”. We love the concept of looking trimmed and toned, but all that exercise? No one really wants to do that.
We want to feel motivated and into our task. And if we’re not, we think there’s something wrong with us.
But motivation isn’t a mood, and it also doesn’t have to be a 24/7 state of mind. Besides, our emotions fluctuate constantly, so it’s not a good idea to rely on your emotions as a source of motivation.
Motivation is something much more objective. And if we can remember that, we can realize that even without feeling super passionate and pumped up, you can still be motivated and get the job done.
For example, you might not “feel” motivated about filing your taxes, cleaning your apartment, going to work, or doing your workout routine, but you can still “be” motivated.
How you can stay focused even when you’re not motivated
Motivation isn’t relevant when you feel gung-ho and hyped up. Motivation is relevant precisely when you don’t want to work through your to-do list.
And here are ways you can still focus even if you don’t “feel” motivated:
Do it anyway:
When you accomplish your goal, however big or small, you’ll see that you’re strong and powerful – with or without all the happy feelings that would have made the same task so much easier and appealing.
What you “want” isn’t that important:
This might seem contradictory and counterintuitive, but look at it this way: You want to lie around and watch TV. You want to scroll through Instagram in bed. You want to skip your workout.
You want to do lots of things and if your brain is in the habit of just doing what it wants and being comfortable, it’s difficult to step into places of discomfort and do the not-so-fun tasks. But learning to toughen up and get things done is very empowering.
And while it might be difficult at first, the more you do it, the better you’ll be at “being” motivated, even if you don’t “feel” motivated.
Remember the outcome:
How many times have you dragged your feet at exercising, only to find that you feel great after you finish your routine? All the time, right?
You can apply this to just about any task. Sure, it might not be attractive and appealing, but finishing something leaves you feeling satisfied and proud – and that’s motivating.
Sneaky ways to increase your motivation and your focus
Even though you can still work through your tasks without “feeling” motivated, it helps to feel good before moving forward. It makes the “doing” part that much easier. So, here are some sneaky ways to increase your motivation, so that it’s easier to focus and accomplish your goals.
- Try the Productivity Planner: This little planner helps you break down big tasks into manageable, 20-minute projects. You’ll fly through your to-do list in no time.
- Practice Yoga for Focus from the YouTube channel, Yoga with Adriene. It’s a quick practice that can wake up your brain and help you refocus.
- Shake a muscle to shake a mood: In her bestselling book, The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron recommends moving your body around if you feel low on inspiration and creativity. This can mean a yoga practice, going for a walk (or run), simple stretching or a HIIT workout.
- Get inspired: Find something that lights you up and gives it a frequent place in your daily life. And you don’t have to find something high and lofty – whatever inspires you is good and good enough. Music, literature, outdoors, an author or an artist – whoever and whatever your inspiration is, give yourself big servings of this. And when you feel inspired and uplifted, it’s easier to face the drudgery of everyday life with more vim and vigor.
Not feeling motivated can lead to a lack of focus. So, just remember that you can override your feelings and complete tasks anyways. In short, you can be motivated even if you don’t feel motivated and this can help you focus.