Is It Even Possible to Focus on Anything Right Now?

Productivity & Work-Life Balance
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Weeks into our current reality of working from home (if possible), I have read many social media posts about the challenges of finding focus among the competing parts of our lives. Maura Thomas from the Harvard Business Review offers practical tips on how to manage these attention-grabbers:

“Practicing attention management is about maintaining control of where your attention goes, and recognizing when it’s being stolen, either by external distractions or internal errant thoughts, rumination, or anxiety. The more you become aware of your distractions, the easier it becomes to manage them. For most of us, distraction has become a habit, and the first step of habit change is awareness, because you can’t change a habit that you don’t realize you have.”

Your Kids

If you’re the only caregiver in a home with others who need more constant supervision, adjust your expectations, and show yourself the same compassion you would show someone else in your situation. Recognizing our limitations and being adaptable will be one of the most useful tools for getting through this time.

Your Chores

When you find yourself distracted not by other people but by your home environment — nagging thoughts such as, “I really should put in a load of laundry,” “I think I need a snack from the fridge,” “Isn’t it time to walk the dog?” — use these to your advantage. Physical movement, like walking the dog or emptying the dishwasher provide relief after spending time doing mostly “brain work,” like reading, writing, and collaborating with others. Plan for these breaks and use them as a reward. 

Your Thoughts

If you’ve ever considered starting a gratitude journal, now would be a great time. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Just start or end (or both!) every day by writing down three good things about that day. They don’t have to be big things. Taking a walk in the middle of the work day, reconnecting with an old friend, appreciating a particular aspect of your physical well-being — calling your attention to the good things will change your perspective. Even better, we should take this opportunity to express gratitude to others more often. Behavioral scientist Francesca Gino writes, “gratitude enables us to savor positive experiences, cope with stressful circumstances, and be resilient in the face of challenges.”


I have found that keeping a journal during times of great change is a great way to find focus. Especially when you lack an outlet to share with people in person, focusing your thoughts and feelings in words to revisit again later is very helpful. Find a way to give yourself grace and compassion for not having all the answers right now – and write down the ways you are, so you can remind yourself that you do have some of the answers.

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