You know how it is. You hunker down at your desk for a serious study session, but 10 minutes later you find yourself clicking through your crush’s photo albums on Facebook. You shake yourself and focus on your work again, but five minutes in, you’re thinking about dinner.
In today’s hyper-connected world of social media and information overload, many people struggle to concentrate for long periods of time. What can you do about it?
- Before you start, clear your mind of all thoughts and worries. Do this however you like – playing music, meditating or praying.
- Study in the right environment. Choose a place that is quiet and preferably private. Switch off your phone and log out of your email and social media accounts. You can even switch off your computer if it’s not needed for your study session.
- If a neighbour is talking or listening to loud music, play some white noise through your headphones – there are many websites where you can download or stream white noise tracks. You can also listen to music, but make sure it doesn’t have lyrics, as the words will distract you.
- Take regular 15 to 20 minute breaks, every two hours. If it’s not time for your break yet, force yourself to push through until the time arrives. Then you can check your Twitter timeline or have a snack.
- Don’t beat yourself up if you get distracted. This can lead to a bad mood, which in turn can lead to you giving up completely and doing something else all evening. If you slip up, just get back on the horse, without blaming yourself.
- Picture the ideas you’re studying in your mind, so that you can recall these mental pictures later and connect them to the topic.
- Boost your motivation to concentrate by thinking about your life and career ambitions; this will make you more determined, and thus, more efficient.
- Read the words aloud; this will help you remember the ideas.
There are many other ways to boost your concentration ability, including diet, exercise, meditation, and even medication. Those things are dependent on individual needs, however. If you use this list of common sense study behaviours consistently, you will start to see benefits immediately.