Why can't I focus? 10 reasons

If you have trouble focusing, it’s time to reclaim control of your concentration and time. Here’s why you can’t focus and how to improve.
Why can't I focus? 10 reasons
minute read

Attention is a powerful form of currency in our world, driving ideas, markets, and movements in culture and beyond. Now, with so many tech tools and distractions vying for our attention, it can seem harder than ever to lock in and focus on important tasks. 

You’re not the only one struggling with attention span nowadays — everyone is in the same boat, and we all want to improve focus in a healthy, sustainable way. The first challenge is finding the source of these concentration problems so you can address them head-on with practical, repeatable methods. 

Today’s article will discuss focus as a whole, including issues like burnout, work-life balance, procrastination, and more. We’ll figure out the root causes of these concerns and offer some tips to help you fix your lack of focus for good. You’re already in the right place and on the right track — now it’s time to earn back your attention span and take brain health seriously.

Why is focus important?

Focus is a broad term that refers to the cognitive process of using your attention for a specific task or activity while filtering out distractions and competing stimuli. 

For instance, if you’re truly focused on painting a picture or cooking a meal, you’ll be fully engaged in the process and able to complete it efficiently. 

Within the concept of focus, there are a few different aspects that provide a clearer idea of what it means. Selective attention means the ability to concentrate on a single task or information source, while sustained attention is about maintaining that concentration for a longer period of time. This is the difference between “short bursts” of focus and the deep focus that will keep you locked in for hours on end.

On the flip side, certain types of focus are undesirable or counterproductive to your goals. Divided attention is one example, meaning your brain is trying to process multiple sources of information, ultimately reducing performance and extending the time it takes to complete a task.

Divided attention is different from switching attention, however. Switching attention refers to your ability to shift focus quickly from one task to another, which is required for effective multitasking. 

At the center of it all is the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for managing focus and beneficial forms of attention use. With the assistance of neural networks to filter distractions and allocate energy, you can fine-tune your cognitive functions into an effective machine for productivity and time management.

Getting more work done isn’t the only reason why you should take focus seriously, of course. Improving focus also means enjoying your time away from work, including a rich personal life, and taking time for self-care, reflection, and rejuvenation. 

As you commit to improving your focus, remember that your well-being is always the first priority, and fixing your focus means getting more from life at every level. 

What are common reasons why you can’t focus?

By this point, you probably understand the value of focus and why the stakes are so high. Strengthening your focus means accomplishing more in your professional life and being the person you aim to be for your friends, family, and loved ones.

With that in mind, you may still wonder why you struggle to focus, or why impulsivity continues to get the best of you. 

Let’s look at some of the most common reasons you might have difficulty concentrating, so you can begin addressing these issues with a structured, goal-oriented approach.

1. Sleep deprivation

Lack of sleep is one of the leading causes of brain fog and diminished cognitive capacity among Americans and people worldwide. If you’re not getting enough sleep each night, you may experience concentration deficits as soon as the next day. Even worse, the side effects of lost sleep compound over time, potentially leading to brain cell damage long-term and more severe health issues. 

The good news is that you can repay sleep debt by enhancing your nighttime routine, resetting your sleep-wake cycle, and making other lifestyle adjustments that allow you to sleep well each night. Start by setting a consistent desired wake-up time in the morning and ensuring you get to bed on time in the evening to allow for a solid 8 hours of sleep every time.

Fix your sleep, and you may find that your focus returns naturally. At the very least, you’ll have the extra energy to introduce other positive habits that result in an upward cycle of self-care and well-being.

2. Social media

We all love social media, as it lets us stay in touch with friends and on top of current news and cultural events. However, you probably know that this 24/7 entertainment cycle can be highly detrimental to your focus and general mental health. 

Social media is designed to be addictive and keep you scrolling, using algorithms to deliver content you find interesting or provocative. While breaking the cycle of consumption may be daunting, it’s not impossible, provided you have the right plan and some willpower. 

Start by turning off all notifications from social media apps on your phone and other devices, ensuring that pop-ups won’t break your focus during work sessions or relaxation periods. You can also install a time tracker that will tell you how much time you spend in each app daily, giving you more insight into your usage patterns and giving you reasonable goals to set.

Social media can be a positive influence if used sparingly and for the right reasons, so reframe your relationship with your favorite apps and take back control over your tech. 

3. Time management

Ask any business leader or prominent public figure about their daily routine, and they’ll always stress the power of time management as a contributor to their success. You don’t need to stick to a rigid schedule every minute of the day, but you can probably make better use of your time with a more structured, repeatable routine.

Time blocking is an effective starter strategy for reclaiming your time, meaning you dedicate certain hours of the day to specific tasks. Don’t allow yourself to switch back and forth between tasks or leave yourself vulnerable to distractions during these deep work blocks. 

You can also use the Pomodoro technique to stay focused for a certain amount of time, then take 5-minute breaks to stretch, chill, and gather your thoughts before getting back to the grind. 

4. Physical health

The link between cognitive function and physical health is not just an unfounded theory. Science shows that when your body is active, the mind follows with more energy, agility, and overall performance. If you feel distracted or prone to daydreaming, a daily workout can deplete extra energy in the body, allowing you to focus on the tasks at hand.

On the flip side, tiring yourself out to the point of physical exhaustion can be counterproductive, leaving you feeling burnt out and groggy. Find the sweet spot where you get the cognitive enhancement aspects of a workout while still maintaining the mental strength needed for focus. 

5. Decision-making

Decisions consume lots of mental energy, even if these decisions are small and scattered throughout the day. Make things easy on your brain by reducing the number of micro-decisions you need to make, whether that’s choosing food, clothes, or everyday purchases.

The goal here is to minimize friction in your mind by removing the need to make decisions that don’t directly contribute to progress in key areas of your life. When it comes time to make real, high-stakes decisions, you’ll have the clarity and energy you need to succeed. 

The more you can streamline your daily decision-making, the more mental capacity will be freed up so you can move the ball forward on things that matter most. 

6. Overstimulation

Social media gets most of the blame for the modern attention crisis, and it’s certainly a culprit. However, it’s not the only factor at play, as our environment is overstimulating on nearly every level. From the news cycle to endless text conversations and packed schedules, it can feel like there’s no room to truly take time for yourself.

The answer to overstimulation is different for everyone, but it starts with finding your priorities. Ask yourself what really matters to you and what aspects of your life are distracting you from achieving a bigger purpose. 

You may find that answering these questions can help you reconfigure your daily priorities and bring everything into clear focus once again.

7. Stress and anxiety

Everyone deals with a certain degree of stress, and to some extent, it’s healthy to feel pressure that drives you forward each day. There’s a downside, however, as stress can become hazardous over time, leaving you stripped of energy, inspiration, and focus. 

If you believe you’re dealing with a more serious, chronic anxiety disorder, don’t self-diagnose or wait for the issue to subside on its own. Consult a trusted medical professional and seek mental health resources to address the root causes and get you back on track.

8. Personal life

Managing one’s personal life can be especially challenging since there are no “best practices” or protocols that you might use for your career or health. Managing relationships requires a mix of intuition and some hard truths. If you find that personal problems are costing you your focus, this is a sign you may need to make some changes.

For example, it could be time to have a hard conversation with a loved one about problems that have persisted for months or years. Alternatively, you may seek therapy or engage in self-care practices like journaling to reflect on your inner state and work out issues within. 

No matter how you approach it, know that confronting these complex problems will benefit your mental health and focus down the road. 

9. Environmental factors

If your workspace is messy or your home needs a deep clean, don’t be surprised if this disorganized environment negatively impacts your focus. Even if it takes an entire weekend to declutter and restore order to your space, you’ll immediately feel the effects of a clean and structured physical environment when it comes to focus.

While it might not seem like cleaning and organizing are the best use of your time, the extra mental clarity you’ll gain is well worth it. Commit to daily, weekly, and monthly cleaning regimens so you leave nothing to chance and control your environment to master the mental domain.

10. Medical conditions

Some mental health conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), can dramatically reduce your ability to focus on a specific task or activity, even if they are things you enjoy doing. 

Those with ADHD may find themselves with a shortage of mental energy, as their focus is easily broken, even if they are emotionally committed to completing a task.

While some techniques and supplements can help soothe ADHD symptoms and restore some degree of focus, this medical condition should be treated with professional guidance and input. 

How can you improve focus?

Improving focus means tackling each of the points in today’s list and being honest with yourself on the areas you need to work on. The journey won’t be easy, but it will pay dividends when you unlock the level of focus you’ve been missing in your life. 

Using CBD for focus is another great option to support your ability to concentrate on tasks. Our Full Spectrum Neuro Water Soluble CBD Gummies can give you a natural boost of focus each morning — the blend of cannabinoids and powerful plant terpenes provides invigorating well-being that can help you tackle your to-do list, whether it’s a workday or the weekend.* 

You can also supercharge your wellness routine with a powerful blend of adaptogenic mushrooms. Our All-in-one Mushrooom Gummies are incredibly effective at increasing focus, energy, stamina, and helping you adapt to daily challenges with more ease. 

Use compounds like CBD and mushrooms to your advantage and tap into your true potential, whether optimizing for peak performance or just getting started on your journey.*

The bottom line

No matter what you set out to accomplish in life, focus is the engine that will take you there. You’ll never be without your mind, so caring for your mental health is step one on any path you choose to take. With these tips, you have a solid foundation to work on, and you’ll see your work pay off with consistency and self-reflection. 

As you strive to improve your focus and well-being, Sunmed’s lineup of premium CBD products can offer assistance. From sleep and recovery to energy and focus, there’s always a way to optimize your well-being, and we’re here to help. 


The Impact of Cannabidiol on Human Brain Function: A Systematic Review | NIH

How Concentration Shields Against Distraction | NIH

The neurobiology of focus and distraction: The case for incorporating mindfulness into leadership | NIH

Nootropic Herbs, Shrubs, and Trees as Potential Cognitive Enhancers | NIH