How to focus when distracted at work

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Do you find yourself losing focus when you really need to get the job done? Here are 12 quick ways you can get back on track and tick off that to-do list in no time

How to focus when distracted at work

Are you having one of those days? We’ve all been there. You’ve got a to-do list a mile long, yet you keep finding yourself staring off into space, re-checking your inbox, or watching the clock tick (so, so slowly) towards lunch or home time. Here are 12 quick, simple and effective ways that you can improve your concentration, find your focus, and make being distracted a thing of the past.

Why do we struggle to find our focus?

In our modern, tech-dominated world, we’re used to switching our focus pretty fast. Just think about it: when was the last time you didn’t have your phone within arm’s length? Or your smartwatch? How about your smart TV, your laptop or desktop? Some of us are so plugged in, we automatically look to our phones or watches mid-conversation, when we spot that tell-tale notification ping or vibration trying to get our attention. We’re so used to having our attention being pulled in a dozen different directions, it’s no wonder we struggle to get things done.

The more distracted we feel, the more likely our productivity is to take a hit. That can mean even longer spent on tasks we may already find boring or unengaging. And it’s not just distractions that can affect our concentration. How we’re feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally can have a significant impact. Not to mention our environments, with noisy offices and home comforts just as likely to distract us whether we’re working remotely or in the office. So, how can we shake things up and bring the focus back to our workdays?


How to stop being distracted at work

1. Set up your space for success
Removing distractions from around you can help to create the right kind of environment to promote concentration and improve focus. Having a clean and clear desk not only helps you to find things more easily, but research shows that having clutter around you could be affecting your productivity. One study by scientists at the Princeton University of Neuroscience Institute found that we’re better able to focus and process information, thereby increasing productivity, when we clear the clutter from our work environment.

The same can be said when working from home. The more ‘stuff’ we have around us, the more likely we are to procrastinate. Too much clutter can even make us feel more stressed and anxious. So clear off your desk, put your phone on silent (and ideally out of eyesight), and ensure you’ve got everything you’ll need (e.g. noise-cancelling headphones and water) to help set yourself up for success.

2. Get your priorities straight
Feeling overwhelmed or unsure where to start can lead to procrastination and being more easily distracted. To head this off at the pass, set yourself a short list of priorities you absolutely must get done today. This could be one bigger task you want to achieve throughout the day or a couple of smaller things you want to tick off by set times.

Having these clear starting points can help you to focus on these first, leaving all the little extra things an

10 enriching things to try in April to benefit your wellbeing

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From a nature-inspired journaling workbook to an activity that will help you rediscover your inner-child nature, try something new with our enriching suggestions

1. Page-turners

10 enriching things to try in April to benefit your wellbeing

The Wildflower’s Workbook: A Journal for Self-Discovery in Nature by Katie Daisy

If you’re someone who loves to journal equally as much as spending time outdoors, this wonderful workbook is for you. Immerse yourself in the natural world and go on a journey of self-discovery with these nature-inspired journaling prompts and activities, created by artist, author, and ‘wildflower’ Katie Daisy.

(Out now, £14.99)

2. Out and about

Try beachcombing

As a child, how often did you scan the beach for hidden treasures? For adults and kids alike, discovering the hidden treasures of the beach is a fun outdoor activity that we can all enjoy. Whether it’s sea glass, shells, fossils, or animal footprints, tap back into your curiosity and search for objects washed ashore on the coastline. The beach is your oyster…

(Visit countryfile.com for their beachcombing guide)

3. Act of kindness

Become a Green Aiders volunteer

If you’re someone who enjoys gardening and would like to put your skills to good use, the Green Aiders programme is always on the look-out for volunteers to help support older or disabled adults care for their overgrown gardens. You’ll be helping someone to reclaim their garden and reap the benefits of the outdoors again, while pursuing your passion at the same time.

10 enriching things to try in April to benefit your wellbeing

(Visit groundwork.org.uk)

4. Lend us your ears

‘Nothing Much Happens’

If you have children, you might know the trick of reading them story after story to help them sleep. But what happens if you’re an adult who can’t sleep? Yoga and meditation teacher Kathryn Nicolai is here to help adults find some shut-eye with this series of bedtime stories. So if counting sheep doesn’t work for you, listen to this podcast!

(Available on all podcast platforms)

5. Plugged-In

Sam Bentley

Whether you’re an eco enthusiast or you want to mix up your feed, environmentalist Sam Bentley posts regular news round-ups from the sustainability world. From a company making mushrooms from old coffee grounds to an underwater forest helping to restore coral reefs, you don’t want to miss these stories.

(Follow @sambentley on TikTok)


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Losing just 39 minutes of sleep can impact kids, so how can we help?

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A new study has highlighted how losing just 39 minutes of sleep in a night can impact children. So what can we do to help kids get the best night’s sleep possible?

Losing just 39 minutes of sleep can impact kids, so how can we help?

As adults, we know just how much sleep affects our ability to go about our daily lives. Following on from those nights where we toss and turn, getting through the next day is a whole lot harder. And, it’s the same for kids. In fact, it might be even worse.

In a new study, published this week in Jama Network Open, researchers found that a difference of just 39 minutes in a child’s total sleep can have a big impact on them.

Monitoring 100 participants between the ages of eight and 12, the children were asked to alternate between a week of going to bed one hour earlier than normal, and then one hour later – with one week of going to bed at their normal time between those two changes.

Both the children and their parents then filled out questionnaires, rating their sleep disturbances and impairment during the day, as well as their quality of life as it relates to their health.

The assessment asked the children questions about whether they felt they were able to pay attention while in school, as well as how they felt physically.

Prior to the study, all the children who took part regularly slept between eight and 11 hours each night, and were also generally healthy. What the researchers saw after one week of the children receiving 39 minutes less of sleep each night, was the children reporting lower overall wellbeing, and they also found it more difficult to cope at school.

“Sleep is such a fundamental human requirement that, when it eludes us, it can have a negative impact on our day-to-day lives,” says hypnotherapist Angela Brown. “The impact of poor sleep can range from poor concentration to challenging behaviour, inability to learn new tasks, stress, anxiety, and depression.”

With so much at stake, how can you best support your child with their sleep? Angela has some suggestions:

1. Establish a routine

“Keep to a routine with a set amount of sleep. This helps to get our circadian rhythm back on track, so we feel more alert and able to function effectively.”

2. Set the scene

“If we can control the stimuli in the bedroom, it can have a positive effect on our sleep. Things to think about are the weight of the duvet – lighter for summer, heavier for winter. Thick curtains or black-out blinds, so our brains know it is time to sleep. No blue light, so no phones, TVs, or electrical devices in the bedroom.”

3. Encourage exercise

“With as little as 30 minutes of activity, such as walking, running, and playing, we increase our ability to concentrate, giving us a chemical reward by generating positive endorphins, which help us to cope with life’s ups and downs.”

4. Control the light

“Our sleep is affected by the amount of sunlight we get. If we’re sitting inside on a computer by a window for 30 minutes, we might get 300 lumens of light on a sunny day. Whereas if we went outside and had a drink in the sunshine we might get as many as 25,000 lumens of light. That means more vitamin D and melatonin, which are

Maternal mental health: What support is available?

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Following research from LSE and the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, we chatted with pregnancy and postpartum psychotherapist, Sophie Harris, to learn more about the support available for new and expectant mums

Maternal mental health: What support is available?

Research conducted last year by the London School of Economics and Political Science, commissioned by the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, revealed the devastating impact that perinatal mental health problems have on women and their families when not effectively treated. What’s more, the former 2014 report calculated that perinatal mental illness costs the UK £8.1 billion annually.

Since 2014, the UK has invested in specialist services provided by the NHS to transform the lives of expectant women with complex mental health problems and their babies. As welcome as these findings may be, more action is now required to see that women and their families receive the quality of care that they need

Whilst improvements have been made, access to perinatal mental health services is still a challenge. The report highlights the long waiting lists for mental health services, including those provided through the NHS Talking Therapies programme (previously known as 'Improving Access to Psychological Therapies' or IAPT). Not only this, but many of the services are unable to meet pregnancy and parenting-specific needs. This means some women don’t accept referrals, miss appointments or are dissatisfied with their treatment.

With more maternal mental health problems being identified as a result of the pandemic, now has never been a more important time to ensure services can respond to increasing demands and are fit for purpose.

The outcomes from the LSE report propose a better integration of perinatal health services, such as maternity and health visiting, with primary mental health services. The collaborative efforts will help address maternal wellbeing and support the early developmental needs of children. This, coupled with identifying women in need and facilitating access to treatment, will have a clinically cost-effective role in society.

We chatted to pregnancy and postpartum cognitive behavioural therapist, Sophie Harris to find out more.


Do you find the findings from the 2014 report surprising?

“Absolutely not,” Sophie says. “Not only are the impacts of maternal mental health difficulties felt by the mother, but also of their child, and potentially even their children. At the moment, there are a lot of unsupported mothers who are struggling. Unfortunately, our children feel our stress. Untreated mental health conditions will have a huge social, emotional and financial impact both on the needs of the mother and child and wider society.”

Do you welcome this research?

“Yes. I believe that any research that highlights the need for maternal mental health support is positive. However, it requires significant action for the impact of these findings to be shown in the outcomes of care for our mothers who are struggling.

“There appears to be a large-scale underestimation of the mental health needs of new mums. For example, the NHS website states that one

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