Many students struggle to focus on studying- and who can blame them? Of course, Facebook or their dog is more interesting than the work in front of them! The problem doesn’t lie in finding the work uninteresting but rather knowing how to focus even if the work is uninteresting.
Of course, it helps if you try to find something even a little interesting in the work. Try to find something you enjoy in everything- it will make your time studying much less painful.
Here are a few things you can do to make sure you don’t lose the focus of the work in front of you, regardless of how interesting it may be:
TURN OFF YOUR PHONE
Everyone knows this already, but so many students still struggle with it. When you focus on your phone, you don’t focus on studying. Checking your phone every few minutes can easily cause you to spend 3 hours on a task that could have taken you 1 hour. If you’d rather avoid that- maybe turn your phone off, put it on silent or get one of those apps that lock your phone for a while.
TURN OFF THE TV
Some students like to have the TV on “in the background” while studying or doing homework. What happens when an ad for ‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians’ comes up? Drop the study and wonder if Kylie really is pregnant. A great distraction.
To avoid this scenario, make sure to turn the TV off before you start studying or move away from the TV if family members are watching.
CLOSE THE DOOR
People and animals can be just as distracting as the TV or your phone! When studying, try to use a room that has a door you can close. Talk to family members beforehand and tell them that when the door is closed you are studying and don’t want to be distracted. Chances are they’ll leave you alone to study in peace.
If you have a very noisy family or one that doesn’t understand the concept of a closed door, you can head to the library or a cafe with free wifi to get your study in.
CLEAN YOUR DESK
This step can make your room (or wherever else you study) look better as well as helping you to stay focused during the study. It’s like a 2-in-1! Having a clean desk means no unnecessary/ distracting things. During my exams periods, I clear my entire desk and put the stuff that was on it somewhere else until my exams are over.
It really helps you to focus on studying when there is nothing else to focus on. No pictures of last December in Disneyland or mirrors to make funny faces to. Just you and your work, having a great time.
Do you ever sit down at your desk and feel like you’re going to fall asleep any second? How are you supposed to concentrate on your work when you’re in this mood? The answer? You’re not going to concentrate when you’re in this mood. The solution to the problem is snapping yourself out of this mood.
Dr. John Ratey, author of “Spark – The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain“, claims that focus is improved for 2-3 hours after you exercise. It has also been proven to increase energy and productivity! So if you ever find yourself in the ‘I’m-going-to-fall-asleep-any-second’ mood, go for a run or play soccer in the park with your friends for a while and then come back to the study!
SIT AT A DESK
Don’t study in your bed or on a couch- you’ll probably be tempted to fall asleep! Not to mention the number of distractions it will introduce. I’ve even read some research that suggests that studying in your bed can be harmful to your sleep. You teach your body to associate the bed with work- which is the opposite of sleep!
When you study, study at a desk, with both feet on the ground and on a comfortable chair that isn’t one with those little swivelly wheels on it. Spinning around on a chair is great fun and therefore- a great distraction.
Don’t ever try to study for longer than an hour. Try and figure out for how long you can really concentrate on your study. For some students, it’s 20 minutes and for others, it’s an hour. You’ll know your time is up when you notice yourself getting easily distracted or working more slowly than at the start of your study session.
It doesn’t matter for how long you can concentrate on your study but it does matter that you respect that time and stick to it. If you’re not concentrating on the best of your ability at all times during your study, you’re not working efficiently. In other words, by studying for longer than you can concentrate for, you’ll be spending more time studying overall.
Once you know how long your ideal study time is, set a timer* at the start of every study session and work until it runs out. Having a timer will help you resist the urge to look at your phone and focus on studying.
If you’re looking for a cool timer to help motivate your study, there are heaps of sand timers* that can time for any time between 20 minutes and an hour- and they look great!
KNOW WHEN YOU ARE EFFECTIVE
FIND OUT WHEN YOU FOCUS ON STUDYING BEST
Different students are effective at different times of the day. Maybe you find that you absolutely cannot study in the morning and prefer the evening. Or maybe the middle of the day works out best for you. Find when you study best.
MEMORISE DURING THIS TIME
After you’ve found when you study best, you should study at this time! Do the tasks that require the most mental effort in this time-things like learning new concepts and revising for exams. Don’t do your everyday homework in the time that you study best.
DO HOMEWORK AROUND THIS TIME
Do your homework around the time that you study best. For tasks that don’t require much mental effort, you can even listen to music- it may help you concentrate.
Why set goals? Because goals work. They help you visualize what you want and how to get there. ‘Just working hard’ will never yield the same results as ‘working hard towards a goal’. It won’t just get you better results, but better results for less work.
If you know exactly what you’re aiming for, you can figure out exactly how to get there instead of spending unnecessary time on tasks that aren’t needed to achieve your goal.
KNOW WHY YOU WANT TO REACH YOUR GOALS
If you know why you want to reach your goal, you’ll be more inclined to work for your goal. You’ll be more inclined to focus on studying because you know it will help you to reach your goal!