[the following is reposted from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/20/jobs/to-avoid-distractions-at-work-hit-the-reset-button.html]
The part of the brain devoted to attention is connected to the brain’s emotional center, says Srini Pillay, author of “Your Brain and Business” and an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Any strong emotion — frustration with a colleague, problems at home — can disrupt your attention, he says.
Refocusing is hard for many people because they have trained their brains to work on a variety of things at the same time, Dr. Pillay says. He suggests visualizing a reset device in your brain and saying: “I need to press the reset button and get back on track.” This takes the spotlight off the distraction and puts it on the redirection. “You are rewiring your brain,” he says.
Robert Epstein, a research psychologist in San Diego and founder of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies, suggests the following: “Stop and listen to music for a few minutes, go for a short walk or take a cleansing breath, where you breath in deeply, count to five slowly, hold it and breathe out very slowly.” This can “blow out all the tension and clutter in your mind, and that can restore your focus.”
But if you are having severe problems maintaining focus at work, you should consult a psychologist or physician, Dr. Komie says, as severe symptoms could be a sign of anxiety, depression or adult forms of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder.