Studying can be tough, no matter if you are in college or if you are studying for your Ph.D. exam. There are so many times where you cannot concentrate and focus, no matter how many times you read the same line over and over again.
No matter what the distraction is, it is really important to find a way to avoid distractions like social media that prevent you from being able to focus on your studying.
We found a few ways (that work) to help you concentrate on the task ahead and we made a guide for you.
1. Find a good environment
The location is an essential part of any successful studying session. Some people need peace and quiet, like the library and for some, the coffee shops give just the right amount of background noise to stay focused. No matter which is your preference, there are a few things you should take care of before you sit down and start studying.
- Clean surface – you need a flat, clean surface that has enough space to comfortably hold all your materials, laptop, and coffee or snacks without them being on top of each other.
- Outlets – if you need a computer to study, make sure you find a spot that’s close to a power supply, so you don’t have to get up and break your flow just so you don’t risk your laptop running out of battery.
- Comfortable seating place – when you look for a place to study, it’s important you find a place that has all the necessary furniture to promote good posture. You will need this if you plan on doing a prolonged, sustainable studying. For this, you can use an exercise ball, a comfortable desk chair with back support or a standing desk. Did you know that sitting upright has been shown to increase energy levels and confidence, as well as enhance the overall mood? In addition, sitting in a slouched position can make your brain more predisposed to feelings of hopelessness.
2. Block websites and distracting apps on your devices
If you are like most people, then distracting websites and apps can bring the death of any focused and productive studying session.
Our smart devices are made to inform us about anything that’s happening on social media or anywhere on the internet. We get a notification; we go to just check it and the next thing we do is realize we’ve spent an hour on the phone without knowing what exactly we did.
Did you know that on average, it takes 23 minutes to refocus on your work once interrupted?
Because of that, you need an application or a site blocker that will prevent you from checking all those things that stop you from focusing. If you don’t want to do that, put your phone on silent and leave it in your backpack or purse.
3. Listen to music
Listening to your favorite tune can help you focus better. It is proven that music helps you relax and focus by lowering the stress and anxiety levels.
Depending on the type of studying you are doing, you may want to choose classical music that stimulates your brain and supposedly, makes you smarter. You can also opt for rap music if you want to relieve stress and concentrate better.
According to the Chillout Radio Station, the best music to help you study is your favorite music. It will give you the needed noise in the back, it will lift up your mood and with that, you will feel more energized and ready to tackle the next task.
Just remember not to listen to too loud music and if you notice you are getting distracted by the lyrics or the tune, pick a different type of music.
4. Space up and divide study sessions
When studying, it is really easy to get overwhelmed by all the amount of information you have to learn. Most of the stress that comes with studying is a result of poor time management and poor planning. This leads to a lot of stress every time you have to sit down and start studying.
There are a lot of studies and research that shows that by dividing our studying into multiple and spaced out sessions, our retention over time will greatly improve.
Cramming all of the information at once may work for the exam, you have the next day, but in the long run, you will forget everything you’ve learned less than a week after studying.
If you want to maintain your focus, learn all the things and remember them, it’s easier to maintain focus for 30 minutes and then take a break, instead of cramming for an 8-hour session.
5. Focus on skills, not grades
One of the most common mistakes the students make is that they focus just on the grades without trying to learn and get the skills they will need in life.
The fact is, it is easier to get caught up in chasing a grade, but you should know that at the end of the day the whole purpose of education is to equip the students with the right knowledge and skills that they will need in the real world.
If you cannot focus on your studying, ask yourself if you are too stressed about the grade? Focus on the learning and the distracting stress and pressure around studying will reduce.
If you stress too much about the grade, talk to your peers or your family and explain your train of thought. They will most likely help you realize that the grade is not that important
if you learned something that you won’t forget in the next week.
Other things that might help you focus are:
- Write weekly, monthly, yearly reviews
- Schedule downtime
- Use tools to help you focus and organize
- Use the Pomodoro Technique (splitting your study sessions)
Is there something you do to help you stay focused while studying? No matter what you do, if it is helping continue with it. Studying with a partner can also help and it may help you understand the material better.