Everyone at some point in their lives has struggled to stay focused on tasks they need to complete. Whether the cause is boredom, distractions, or a wandering mind, trouble staying focused can make it very difficult to complete tasks! For clients who may be dealing with anxiety or depression in addition to their Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI), maintaining attention can be even more of challenge. Here are five strategies to help stay focused:
- Organize your environment to reduce distractions. For example, make sure the television is off and that you are working in a quiet room. Or if the task is meeting a friend, try to do it somewhere without much background noise.
- Choose a time of day when you are most alert to complete difficult tasks. Some people work better in the mornings; others need more time to wake up and find that they can focus better in the afternoons.
- Set a timer or alarm in order to focus your attention for a specific amount of time. Start off with shorter periods, and as your ability to maintain attention improves, set the alarm for increasingly longer periods of time.
- Take breaks as necessary to help regain focus on the task. Once the timer or alarm goes off stop working on the task. Sometimes breaks can be quick and simple (e.g. standing up and stretching), and other times longer breaks are necessary (e.g. switching to a more enjoyable activity).
- Use self-questioning and self-instruction to think critically about the task in which you are engaged. For example, ask yourself the following questions: Am I wandering? What am I supposed to do? What should I be doing now? Do I understand? Do I need to ask a question? How is this meaningful to me? How does this fit with what I know?
By: Shira Silver, Speech-Language Pathologist at Simone Friedman Speech-Language Services