Too distracted? 10 Tips for Improving Focus and Concentration

Fern Weis, Parent Coach & Educator Credits: Fern Weis

Parents are increasingly concerned that they and their children, from toddlers to teens, are losing the ability to focus and stay on task (except when it comes to video games). It doesn’t mean that you all have ADHD, although some may. There are many other causes:

* inadequate sleep                  * boredom                          * too many distractions
* focusing on weaknesses    * hunger                             * poor food choices
* keeping lists in your head    * lack of routines                * doing too much at once

There is no cure for all of these concentration busters. Let’s address the ones we can.

Sign Up for E-News

1)    Get a good night’s sleep… or the best you can. Turn off electronic devices at least an hour before you turn out your light.  Read instead of watching TV. Have that warm glass of milk. (Heating it releases the sugars which produce insulin, which makes you sleepy.)

2)     If you’re keeping your to-do lists in your head…don’t. It’s time to write them down. If you forget what you wanted to say because you didn’t want to interrupt, jot down a key word or phrase.

3)    Map it out, or use a graphic organizer.  With so many appointments and errands, you may forget something. “A study in the journal Science found that the human brain can handle two complicated tasks simultaneously. Add a third, though, and the brain can’t keep up…Map out your day, including errands,” just like a road map. Create an ‘order of operations’ so you can see where you need to be, and when. (Quoted from

4)    Create the right environment for you. Some of you need complete silence to work; others need the sound of background music or quiet chatter.

5)    Prioritize your tasks. Look at your list. What needs immediate attention, and what can wait? Is it better for you to schedule the tough stuff first, or last?

6)    Chunk it down. Many people go into overwhelm because the task is too big. Break it down into smaller pieces. Not only will it help you stay focused and organized, it will also give you a sense of satisfaction when you have completed each step.

7)    Take a break. When you are bored, you’re more easily distracted. Plan a break: walk around the room, stretch, dance, get a glass of water. Besides, your brain actually needs a break in order to work more efficiently. It’s called a ‘state change’ and you should have one at least every 30-45 minutes.

8)    Avoid fats and simple sugars. Sugar may give you a bit of energy, and then it puts you to sleep. Fatty foods will also drag you down. You don’t need me to list out the better choices. Just choose them instead.

9)    Focus on your strengths. It is said that you create more of what you focus on. If you only think about why you can’t accomplish something, you create a mindset that prevents you from succeeding. Think about your strengths. When you had similar challenges, how did you get through them? Use those mindsets and strategies to be productive now.

10)    Go outside and play, walk, garden, rake leaves or shovel snow. Your body and brain crave movement and fresh air, so take them outside.

You don’t have to do everything on the list; however, choosing just one and sticking with it can change your focus, outlook, productivity and patience.

Remember, nothing changes until you do.  What will you change today?

Fern Weis is a parent coach, specializing in supporting parents of teens and young adults who are going through difficult situations (including underachieving, disrespectful behavior, addiction recovery and more). With parent-centered coaching, Fern helps parents release guilt, end enabling, and confidently prepare their children to thrive through life’s challenges. Learn more about coaching and workshops at or

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Berkeley Heights

Free Living History Event Showcases World War I Centennial

April 19, 2018

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders invites residents and visitors to experience battlefield life as a World War I American Salvation Army volunteer, featuring Ms. Laurie MacDonald-Gaulke, actress and storyteller, in a special free presentation of “Doughnuts for Doughboys: A Salvation Army Lassie in France.”

Doughnuts for Doughboys takes place on Tuesday, April 25 at ...

Softball: Justina Benvenuto Named Union Catholic's Girls Conference Athlete of Week

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- After bursting on the scene with a fabulous freshman softball season at Union Catholic last year, there was a lot of hype surrounding Justina Benvenuto as she entered her sophomore season.

Benvenuto has more than lived up to all the lofty expectations, both on the mound and at the plate as she has sparked the Vikings to a 6-1 record this spring.

Benvenuto has been ...

Lunch & Learn: 'Israel at 70: Its Meaning and Value in Jewish Identity' with Professor Kenneth W. Stein Apr. 22

SUMMIT, NJ - For four decades, Kenneth W. Stein has taught Middle Eastern History and Political Science at Emory University. His scholarship focuses on the politics of the modern Arab world, American foreign policy toward the Middle East, modern Israel, and the Arab-Israeli negotiating process. Stein earned awards at Emory for excellence in teaching and life-long mentorship of ...

Thank You, St. Joseph's Volunteers

April 16, 2018

Thank You from St. Joseph Social Service Center

In recognition of National Volunteer Week, we would like to express our gratitude to the countless volunteers that serve the poor and homeless at St. Joseph Social Service Center in Elizabeth (  Whether you make a sandwich, collect toiletries, tutor in the job program, make soup, wrap Christmas gifts, donate food, ...

New Providence Borough Council to Cultivate Relationships with County Officials

April 12, 2018

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – Councilman Robert Robinson touted the importance of personal relationships with Union County representatives at the Monday, April 9 council meeting.

Union County Freeholders Angel Estrada and Bette Jane Kowalski attended the Street Smart campaign kick-off event prior to the meeting providing the council members with the opportunity to chat face-to-face with the two ...

Chatham Township Committee Unanimously Adopts Ordinance to Ban Marijuana Retail Sales; Cannabis Advocates Disagree

April 13, 2018

CHATHAM, NJ - Chatham Township Mayor Curt Ritter began the new year by pledging to oppose Gov. Phil Murphy's plan to legalize the recreational use of marijuana and Thursday night he followed through by voting to adopt an ordinance that prohibits "marijuana cultivation, production testing, manufacturing facilities and retail stores' in the township.

The Chatham Township Committee ...

Upcoming Events

Thu, April 19, 10:00 AM

American Legion Post 433, New Providence

Summit College Club Book Donations

Arts & Entertainment Giving Back

Thu, April 19, 10:00 AM

American Legion Post 433, New Providence

Summit College Club Book Donations

Arts & Entertainment Giving Back

Thu, April 19, 10:00 AM

New Providence Memorial Library, New Providence

Thursday Morning Book Group @NPML

Arts & Entertainment

Thu, April 19, 7:00 PM

Summit Free Public Library, Summit

Think globally, act locally: What you can do to ...

Education Green

Thu, April 19, 7:00 PM

Museum of Early Trades and Crafts, Madison

METC hosting Travelers and Taverns: An Evening ...

Arts & Entertainment Education Food & Drink

Thu, April 19, 7:00 PM

summit free public library, summit

Celebrate Earth Day at Summit Public Library

Education Green Other

Getting Real About Retirement – Will You Have Enough Money to Remain Comfortable?

Let’s get real about retirement. Will you have enough to remain comfortable in retirement for 30 years or more?  Studies show this is a recurring fear many Americans have - and for good reason. Many Americans are completely unprepared to fund a comfortable retirement, and remain naive about the actual costs involved.  As a Fee-Only financial advisor, my number one priority is ...