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Health & Balance

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6 Top Concentration Killers

Straying from the task at hand? Here's how to regain your focus.

2. Boredom continued...

It’s also good to schedule breaks -- to take a 10-minute walk outside, for example -- so you’ll have something to looking forward to and a chance to recharge.

Boredom is one case when multitasking may work in your favor.

"Multitasking is often a help when you’re doing something so boring that you’re understimulated," Palladino says.

If you’re having a hard time focusing on washing the dishes or filing your receipts, for instance, listening to the radio or texting a friend at the same time may keep you motivated.

3. Mental Distractions

When you’re worrying about money, trying to remember if you took your vitamins, and replaying a conversation in your head that didn’t go as planned, it's hard to settle down and stay focused on a project you’re trying to complete.

Those types of distractions -- the ones that are in your head -- “have a lot of power over us,” says Michael J. Baime, MD, clinical associate professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and director of the Penn Program for Mindfulness.

One way to let go of these nagging thoughts is to quickly write them down. Add items to your to-do list, for instance, or vent your frustrations in a journal entry.

If you’re stressed about a certain problem, find a time to talk about it with someone you trust. "If you have a supportive, active listener, it can help drain away some of the tension that is bouncing around in your head," says Daniel Kegan, PhD, JD, an organizational psychologist.

Meditation can also help.

"When you’re meditating, you learn to manage distracting thoughts so they don’t compel your attention so strongly. You discover how to refocus the attention and take it back and place it where you want it," Baime tells WebMD.

In a 2007 study, Baime's team found that people who took an eight-week meditation course improved their ability to focus their attention.

To learn the basic techniques of meditation -- such as focusing on the sensation of breathing and then transferring that focus to other sensations in the body -- Baime recommends taking an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction class, either in person or online.

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