Why do I keep drifting off

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

What went wrong?

You make a plan, decide to follow it, and somewhere along the path you find yourself doing something that is totally not what you should be doing.

You study and suddenly find yourself spending an hour on a social networking website.
You work on a report and discover that you were day dreaming for the last half hour.
You start a diet, do well for a couple of days or even weeks and suddenly your margin of error becomes uncontrollable.

What happened?
How can you stop this?
There are very effective things that you can do to continue being on track. This article will show you some key points on how to stay focused every time you start working on anything. And no, they don’t include typical advices such as remove distractions and take breaks (Which are important though by the way).

Either Everything or nothing at all

One of the very specific reasons for drifting off is disappointment. When you’ve made plans to finish a task at a certain time so you can follow your set schedule, and then it takes you more time to finish this task than expected, you feel irritated and tend to leave the whole schedule all together out of frustration.

Another example, is promising yourself to exercise everyday and then skip a day or two out of laziness then decide to drop the whole idea away because you feel it won’t work for you. (see some psychological factors that cause laziness)

This is a mistake that almost everyone falls into often. You know either ‘I do it right, or I don’t do it at all’.

The next time you catch yourself doing this, drop this idea and continue with your plan. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t go as planned exactly, remember you are still getting the hang out of sticking to your plan or tasks. It’s better to have a part drift off than everything. It’s better to spoil your plans in the beginning but get the hang out of it later. (see also How to develop commitment in life)

This way you’ll get the wheels running.

Controlling your focus

Another major reason for drifting off is lack of focus.
I will give you the long-lasting solution to keeping it.
You know how you never lose focus when you’re only a couple of hours away from an exam and trying to finish? Or when you’re a couple of hours away from a deadline that you haven’t finished at all?

And suddenly you are totally focused and more productive than ever. The real reason this happens is because you are racing against time.

When you race against time, you put yourself in the highest form of mental focus.
So next time you want to focus on a task and not drift, divide your task into small deadlines. (see Top 10 time management mistakes)

This will keep you in the best focused state that you’ll ever want.

Your feelings can affect your productivity

Be careful with how you feel. How you feel is vital to your productivity, this is why it’s very important that you don’t overwhelm yourself with tasks. If you can, be kinder to yourself with what you expect yourself to do.

Its best to keep the things you want to do at an average of 5 tasks per day.

So make a reasonable and doable average that you can apply on whatever you want to do. When it’s doable, you will feel better, and most of all you’ll be consistent with productivity, which is the most important thing after all.

When you’ve achieved consistency, you can increase it as you go.
Also, since how you feel is very important, show yourself that you are achieving so that you enjoy being productive. Tick your list off as you finish tasks, this alone can make you looking forward to finishing just to tick off. Very simple, but keeps so many people achieving surprisingly. (see also Why you should write a plan)

Try to make whatever you’re doing as fun as you can, because the more you’ll enjoy it the much more likely you’ll stick to it.

The more you cut the more you’ll stick

Weird title but will work like magic.
When things are big they are overwhelming. When they are smaller they are doable, when they are very small, they’ll get done.

Putting the previous section into consideration, the smaller the task the more you will feel like achieving it. This also goes hand in hand with the second advice (having small deadlines to keep your focus).

So whatever task you want to do and stick to, divide it into very ridiculous small parts and in no time you will be surprised at how much of the task you’ve finished because you stuck through.

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