May 10th 2010

Many students complain that they can’t concentrate on studying, and that minds race from one thing to another and their thoughts are always at other place – except on their studies.  But almost everyone has the ability to concentrate.

Think of a time when you were totally passionate on something you really enjoyed, for example a movie, a book, a video game or a sport. The trick is to use the right strategies to unlock your natural ability to concentrate and apply these when you are studying. You can try the following strategies to solve struggle on concentrating.

Getting started

  • Your choice of study space may influence your level of concentration. Choose a study space with good lighting and comfortable atmosphere, which is a tidy, organized and pleasant place to work. This will help reduce distraction.
  • Leave your cell phone away from you or turn it off.
  • If you like music that’s okay, just ensure it is not a distraction

Making a plan

  • Create a study timetable that takes into account your energy levels at different times of the day, and stick to it.
  • Divide your work into logical sections that have a beginning and an end. Our brains are holistic, so you’ll find it easier to work on something that forms a whole, rather than something that’s left hanging midway.

Set goals for each study session

  • Before you begin studying, take a few minutes to think about what you’ll gain.
  • Write down all your goals for the study period. For example: ‘Do the economic report’ or ‘complete the findings of final research ’.
  • Set yourself a time limit before you start. For example: ‘I’ll do the economic report 45 minutes’. By doing this, you’re setting yourself a goal and your subconscious mind will start working on completing the task in the time available.

Take breaks

  • Remember best when they study for shorter periods then recap and consolidate what they learned, as opposed to studying for longer periods.
  • Learn better at the beginning and end of a study period.
    So, plan to study for about 30-45 minutes, review what you have learnt, then take a five to 10 minute break and go around to be relax

Build in variety

  • Change the subject or study methods every few hours. This will make your mind not be bored.
  • Use your study break for exercise (or perhaps clean the house or watering). This will change the pace and help to get rid of extra adrenaline.
  • Alternate reading with more and attractive learning exercises. For example: mind mapping or writing model answers.

Just say ‘Stop’

Every time you notice your thoughts wandering or cancelling, tell yourself to ‘stop’. Then consciously bring your thoughts back to your studies. Initially, you might have to do this many times in each study session, but with practice you’ll find you are able to focus for longer periods.

If you find it almost impossible to re-focus try taking a break, changing to another subject or topic, or using other study strategy.

Schedule worry time

Allow yourself time to worry but you have to decide beforehand when and for how long you’re going to worry. Then, when something distracts you while you’re studying, or if you start to feel anxious about something during the day, write all your thoughts down and set them aside, reminding yourself you’ll deal with them during your worry time. 

Learn actively

To help you concentrate and remember, you should learn actively. Active learners do something with what they have learnt, this may include:

  • Putting what they learned into their own words.
  • Comparing and contrast what they are learning with what they already know.
  • Linking new facts to what they already know.
  • Applying what they are learning to their own situation, and
  • Using the new information.

Enjoy a favorite movie. Things get done when you come back

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