Concentration and memory

Your job might require you to interact with others, solve problems and concentrate for long periods of time. After cancer treatment, it can be difficult to concentrate. You may feel like you are in a fog. This is sometimes called ‘chemo brain’, but can happen even if you don’t have chemotherapy. Talk to your oncologist for more information.

Tips for improving concentration

  • Keep a diary or set your email or mobile phone to remind you about appointments.
  • Carry a small notepad or download an app to your phone so you can jot down things you need to remember.
  • Write to-do lists to help keep track of what you need to do. Complete tasks one at a time rather than multi-tasking.
  • Refer to project plans, meeting minutes and other documents to jog your memory.
  • If you work in a noisy area, talk to your manager about moving to a quiet location.
  • Plan activities so you do things that require more concentration when you are more alert.
  • If possible, let calls go to voicemail and return them when you’ve had time to prepare your response.
  • Set aside time each day to read and respond to emails.
  • Let your manager know you may need more time to finish tasks. Discuss realistic deadlines for your projects.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Deep sleep is important for memory and concentration.
  • Talk to an occupational therapist about strategies to improve your memory.
  • Put personal items (e.g. keys, wallet) in a dedicated place at home and at work so you don’t misplace them.

This information was last reviewed in January 2017
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