how to focus

Photo: Adam Levey

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"I'm so scatterbrained—I must have ADHD." It's a lament that doctors like Michael Coates, MD, are hearing more and more from adult patients, many of whom assume medication is the answer to their woes. Yet most people don't have ADHD, nor do they need a pill, says Coates, who chairs the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine. "What they need is a better routine." In fact, only about 4.5 percent of American adults are estimated to have ADHD, according to a report in the American Journal of Psychiatry. For the rest of us, feeling unfocused is not the result of a disorder or even a personality trait—it's simply a habit.

"There's never been another time in history when there was so much to be distracted by, and all our technology reinforces the feeling that you're missing out on something if you're not able to pay attention to a bunch of things at once," says Charles Folk, PhD, director of the cognitive science program at Villanova University. To regain your focus, a few tiny lifestyle tweaks may be all you need.