3 Tips To Help You Focus (That Don’t Involve Coffee)

My days are frequently an exercise in wandering-mind-management.
“I should really be working on that new fashion ebook but I can’t forget to write a birthday card for my aunt. And oh! I need to print/sign/scan that NDA! But there are dirty dishes in the sink. AND OH WAIT I OBVIOUSLY NEED TO RESEARCH FLIGHTS TO NEW ZEALAND RIGHT NOW.”
There are plenty of ways that I manage this foolishness. I swear by lists and goals and Google Nanny and the Pomodoro method. But those tricks just force me to do fewer ridiculous things. They don’t actually help me focus on doing awesome things. And since I’m trying to limit my coffee consumption to, um, a non-insane amount, I’ve been trying other things to help me focus.

Here are three tips that really help me focus

Focus Tip #1: Take a 30-second cold shower

Wait. What? I can hear you scrolling past this and mumbling right now. But hear me out! When you’ve spent the last hour and a half falling down an internet hole, refreshing your RSS feed every two minutes, you need something that’s a shock to the system and a reset button of sorts. Of course, this is about a million times more doable if you, like me, work from home, but I so, so highly encourage it.
Strip down, jump in, turn around in that freezing water while you grit your teeth and question why you followed this advice. Then get out, feel a million times more awake and focused (and then feel bad that you doubted me.)

Focus Tip #2: Legs-up-the-wall yoga pose

So easy, so helpful. Scoot your butt as close to the wall as you comfortably can and set the timer on your phone (choose a sweet, non-confrontational alarm sound) and calm your mind. You (probably) won’t fall asleep, but your mind will stop racing, your legs, feet, knees, and back will feel a million times better, and you’ll finished feeling refreshed and focused.
Note: this is significantly less calming if you have a needy cat who insists on begging for pets and eating your hair when you lie down. 

Focus Tip #3: Take a dance break

Yes, really. Who cares if you’re not a good dancer? You’re just dancing some of that antsy energy out of your system and doing something other than sitting in front of a computer. Just choose 1-2 of your favorite, can’t-sit-still songs and twerk around your apartment (or, um, in your office with the door closed) for five minutes. I’m currently dance breaking to thisand this.
If all else fails? Walk to the coffee shop and buy an overpriced ice latte and flirt with the barista.

How do you stay focused? Tell us in the comments!

P.S. How to restart a bad day

photo credit: annie spratt // cc



Loving these tips, and I -so- relate to the sentence about your day being an exercise in wandering-mind-management. I'd like to add that a short walk outside to clear my mind works for me.

Future Cat Lady

Any ideas for those of us who work in a cube area with our 5 closest (HA!) friends? It would be awesome (but totally inappropriate) to have a dance party or lie down in my office.


I work in an open cube environment and I still have a "sitting" dance party every now and then. Headphones in, volume up, just shoulders dancing. It does help! And is not super noticeable. My other trick is two laps around the office, stopping in the kitchen for an ice water on the way. I make it a point to say hi and make eye contact with people as I walk (to focus on something other than my own racing mind!) If I have 15 minutes (and not 101 degrees), I'll sometimes take a lap around my building outside instead.


I love these tips! I started taking cold showers (occasionally!) last winter when I read that it was a good depression fighter/mood lifter. I should try it for focusing too, because my mind wanders all the time!
Will also try the leg up the wall pose. Thank you 🙂

Diana Bukowski

Wonderful! I think I shall try these… Now to find a place to do the Legs-up-the-wall yoga pose in this over-crowded home… LOL! (Actually, I think I am short enough to do the legs-up-the-tall-dresser yoga pose…)


I’m always jealous of smokers who can take smoke breaks to clear their heads. Obviously I don’t want to take up an unhealthy habit just as an excuse to step outside my office building. So I’ve started taking water breaks instead! I step outside with my water bottle, drink at least half of it while just enjoying the breeze and sunshine, and then go back to work. Sometimes I hit the restroom on my way back up the stairs. Does wonders.


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