Do you find yourself reaching for your phone in the middle of a task? Whether we're distracted, demotivated or exhausted, an inability to focus can be a huge hurdle in the path to success. Image Credit: Pexels/Karolina Grabowska

Your desk is organised, your coffee is piping hot, and you’re seemingly ready to be productive. But you start scrolling on your phone, or walk away to get something from the fridge – and don’t return for the next two hours. The report you’re supposed to write is still blank. What’s happening?

Click start to play today’s Word Search, where we look for solutions for moments when we’re feeling like ‘scatterbrains’.

We live in unprecedented times; we’re constantly bombarded with information, and our days are full of alerts, activities and events. The overstimulation can take a toll on our physical and mental wellbeing. And whether we’re demotivated, exhausted, or facing distractions, an inability to focus can be a huge hurdle in the path to success. But there are ways to overcome it.

Here are five science-backed ways to improve your focus:

1. Minimal multitasking

While multitaskers may seem like they have superpowers, they pay a big price for it, according to a 2009 US-based study conducted by Stanford University and published in the journal Psychological and Cognitive Sciences. The study assessed 50 multitaskers and 50 people in a control group, and examined their attention spans, memory capacity and ability to switch from one task to the next. In each test, multitaskers came out on the losing end. When multitasking, people are not able to do their best at all the tasks they’re managing. The practice has also been associated with attention lapses and interference with both working memory and long-term memory.

2. Regular exercise

Exercise isn’t just good for the body, it also promotes brain health, and plays a role in improving memory capacity and concentration. A November 2015 study published in the US-based Journal of the American Medical Association found that regular exercise – 15 minutes of daily moderate activity and running for 5 to 10 minutes per day – helps stimulate the release of a chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor. The chemical helps rewire memory circuits to improve their functioning in the brain.

3. To-do lists

Keep a record of your tasks and check them off as you complete them. To-do lists don’t just help you organise and prioritise your work, but also act as a record of any loose ends. The Zeigarnik effect occurs when people tend to remember incomplete tasks instead of complete ones – and it puts a big damper on their concentration.

4. Caffeinated beverages

If you’re feeling like your energy is waning, it may be worth stepping away from your desk to brew a cup of coffee. According to a 2010 study published in the Netherlands-based Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, caffeine in moderate doses has been shown to boost focus, especially if you’re fatigued. But don’t overdo it – the same study found that if you consume more than 400mg of caffeine (about four cups of coffee), you might get caffeine jitters, which reduce your ability to focus. Alternatively, try tea – it distributes the energy it provides over a longer period, because of its L-theanine chemicals which our bodies metabolise throughout the day.

5. Take breaks

Whether it’s a short walk or a power nap, take the occasional break from work – it’s vital for productivity. An April 2011 study published in the US-based journal Social Sciences assessed the decision-making process of 1,112 judges and found that they made more ‘favourable rulings’ at the beginning of the day, and after they took short food breaks. The study found that semi-frequent breaks were vital for them to avoid decision fatigue.

What do you do to get your focus back? Play today’s Word Search and tell us at