Tips for focusing while studying
The art or practice of concentration,
no matter if studying biology or playing pool,
is to focus on the task at hand and eliminate distraction
We all have the ability to concentrate - sometimes. Think of the times when you were "lost" in something you enjoy: a sport, playing music, a good game, a movie. Total concentration.
But at other times,
- Your mind wanders from one thing to another
- Your worries distract you
- Outside distractions take you away before you know it
- The material is boring, difficult, and/or not interesting to you.
These tips may help: They involve
- What you can control in your studies
- Best practices
Before engaging in your studies, and concentrating,
try to center yourself with silence, clearing your mind of distractions
that may disrupt your productivity.
What you can control in your studies:
- "Here I study"
Get a dedicated space, chair, table, lighting and environment
Avoid your cellphone or telephone
Put up a sign to avoid being disturbed or interrupted
If you like music in the background, OK, but don't let it be a distraction.
(Research on productivity with music versus without music is inconclusive)
- Stick to a routine, efficient study schedule
Accommodate your day/nighttime energy levels
See our Guide on Setting goals and making a scheduling
Before you begin studying, take a few minutes to summarize a few objectives, gather what you will need, and think of a general strategy of accomplishment
Create an incentive if necessary for successfully completing a task,
such as calling a friend, a food treat, a walk, etc.
For special projects such as term papers, design projects, long book reviews, set up a special incentive
- Change topics
Changing the subject you study every one to two hours for variety
- Vary your study activities
Alternate reading with more active learning exercises
If you have a lot of reading, try the SQ3R method
Ask yourself how you could increase your activity level while studying? Perhaps a group will be best? Creating study questions?
Ask your teacher for alternative strategies for learning. The more active your learning, the better.
- Take regular, scheduled breaks that fit you
Do something different from what you've been doing (e.g., walk around if you've been sitting), and in a different area
Give yourself a reward when you've completed a task
- You should notice improvement in a few days
But like any practice, there will be ups, levels, and downs:
- It will benefit other activities you do!
Be here now | Worry time | Tally Card | Energy level | Visualize
Be Here Now
This deceptively simple strategy is probably the most effective.
When you notice your thoughts wandering astray, say to yourself "Be here now" and gently bring your attention back to where you want it.
You're studying and your attention strays to all the other homework you have, to a date, to the fact that you're hungry. Say to yourself
"Be here now"
When it wanders again, repeat
and gently bring your attention back, and continue this practice, repeatedly. It will work!
Do not try to keep particular thoughts out of your mind. For example, as you sit there, close your eyes and think about anything you want to for the next three minutes except cookies. Try not to think about cookies...When you try not to think about something, it keeps coming back. ("I'm not going to think about cookies. I'm not going to think about cookies.")
You might do this hundreds of times a week. Gradually, you'll find that the period of time between your straying thoughts gets a little longer every few days. So be patient and keep at it. You'll see some improvement!
Do not constantly judge your progress. Take it easy on yourself. Good practice is enough to say that you did it, and that you are on the road. The mind is always different and the practice unfolds over time with many ups and downs.
Worry or Think Time
Research has proven that people who use a worry time find themselves