8 Expert-Tested Ways to Improve Focus

Our experts share their get-focused secrets.

  • Narrow your line of sight.Keep only what you're working on in front of you. —Sandy Maynard, ADDitude 's coach on call
  • Give yourself a message.Post a note within view to remind yourself to stay focused: "This isn't the time to clean my room. I'll do it tomorrow." —Patricia Quinn, M.D., Nancy Ratey, Ed.M., and Theresa Maitland, Ph.D.
  • Withhold criticism.Avoid perfectionism or frustration by not critique the job you're doing until you've completed it. —Christine Adamec, author of Moms with ADD
  • Make a list.Take five minutes to write down all the things you have to do. Once these tasks are on paper, you'll find it easier to focus. —Thomas Whitmore, Ph.D., and Michele Novotni, Ph.D.
  • Ask for a friendly reminder.Ask a friend who sits near you in class or in meetings to tap you lightly on the shoulder if you appear to be zoning out. —Khris, teen contributor to A Bird's-Eye View of Life with ADD and ADHD

Get regular exercise. Exercise optimizes brain functions, and is the best way to promote long-term focus. —Edward Hallowell, M.D., and John Ratey, M.D.

Know your limits. When find yourself drifting, be frank. Tell the person you're talking to, "I'm sorry. Can we stop for a minute?" — Alex Zeigler, coauthor of A Bird's-Eye View of Life with ADD and ADHD

Set a goal. If you have a goal that's aligned with who you are and what you're excited about, you'll move mountains to stay on task and get the job done. —Michael Sandler, Success at School columnist for ADDitude

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