I know, you are that kind of student that get easily distracted. If you were not, you probably wouldn’t be here; anyway, if you are here, you really want to know how to improve concentration, increase determination and motivation while studying, and I’m going to show you a huge list of techniques and tips to help you to attain this goal and, of course, to maintain it as time goes by.
Let’s focus on your actual situation: you are not able to focus on your essays, to do small assignments, concentrate on homework for more than 7-8 minutes, you fantasize every moment, moving your mind and your attention from one thing to another, unconsciously trying to find something more interesting. Moreover, you know better than me that every little thing, while you are through your study session, could be more attractive than your homework.
You are probably the same kind of student I was during a particular time of my life, the same kind of student 98% of human population (practically everyone) is at a particular time of his life: the distracted student, unable to concentrate, who finds difficulties in aspects like determination and motivation regarding studying experience.
The primary, and the only, outcome of these situations is the following: you are losing so much time, every day you are less motivated to study than the day before, and your results are worsening week by week.
However, you don’t have to be desperate about this situation, because there exist a golden remedy to this.
What’s this remedy?
How are you going to change your attitude?
I would like to start this post by saying that, even if studying may seem boring, you have to never (NEVER) give up on studying. You have to learn to concentrate while studying in the exact way you concentrate while doing activities different from studying (like playing piano, cards, practicing sports or any other activity that human beings enjoy). So, the problem is not how to be concentrated, but how to be concentrated while studying.
Studying, I know, may not be considered as the most exciting part of high school or college and university, or whatever course you are attending; but now, taking into account this assumption, you have to find the right motivation to overcome this belief and understand that studying itself is not such an obstacle, a stumbling block.
Studying will not be a burden for you, not anymore.
What are, then, the key principles that will lead you to convince, and motivate, yourself about studying?
- A devoted sense of discipline – that you will acquire time by time by being determined in accomplishing your actions and your duties.
- A list of productivity habits that you have to adopt to have a healthy and untroubled lifestyle (check this article for more information about these habits).
- A list of tips to continuously improve yourself, to remain well-trained and in practice with a personal development strategy, day by day.
- A list of practical techniques used by the most talented students around the world.
- A well-developed strategy of studying to maintain concentration as time goes by.
Before going on with the very best tips to increase concentration while studying, it is important that you understand why you should be motivated to study.
Regardless, coming back onto the knowledge about how to increase attention while studying, I would give an answer to the question: what does it mean to be concentrated while studying?
Being concentrated means being able to do one thing after another with the right effort and being pleased seeing your stuff done at the end.
Concentration is a good engine for also producing a sensation of reward towards yourself: the more you concentrate on your tasks, the more you feel rewarded when seeing results come (then, the more you feel good).
Concentration strategies and techniques take time and practice for you to notice the improvement (but don’t worry, they do take just a few days or 1-2 weeks); the more you practice these techniques, the more you will be able to concentrate without even thinking about it.
Are you ready to learn, and PRACTICE, these techniques? In the second part of the article, you will also find how to develop and organize your studying strategy.
Let’s start! 🙂
Find a comfortable environment
You have to find an environment that would make you comfortable. If you are not able to find it, just make sure your room is free of distractions of any kind. Follow these steps:
- Find a calm area, such as a study room, a library, or even an empty room where lessons are finished; if you prefer to study outdoors, try to find a place where no distractions are present.
- Everyone has its preferences regarding the studying environment; if you don’t know what are yours, you have to try some different environments before really understanding which one you prefer.
- Once you have found the right place, frequent it (until you discover a better one).
Have all the materials you need close to you
Having pens, books, even a bottle of water or a snack close to you, on your desk, will avoid you to waste time to reach them if they were far from you. For this reason, it is also very important to have a clean study space surrounding you. Clean the things that are not related with what you have to study off your desk; this will avoid you unwanted distractions.
Switch off your cellphone (and your PC if not needed)
Don’t text messages with your friends or your partner while you are studying, switch off your phone and switch it on only when you are taking a break or when you are done; if you don’t need your PC, turn it off as well.
If you need your PC, don’t waste time by surfing the web in distracting websites like Facebook, Twitter, etc.
The contribute those websites give to your culture, to your knowledge, to your career, is exactly equal to ZERO.
The Internet is a tool that has to be used wisely; you don’t have to use the internet for wasting hours of your time just scrolling useless pages seeking memes and unimportant information, or, badly, to look other people’s life and photos.
Make studying a habit
Make a weekly plan of your study sessions, with specific subjects to study each day. Base this schedule upon your attitude, and upon the time of the day, you think you have more energy to accomplish the study habit. After few weeks you will adapt to this schedule, and you will know exactly what to study and when to study every day of the week.
Scheduling your studying habit will also make your life easier because managing your time wisely through the week, you will have a clear vision of the time you can spend on activities different from studying.
And you will develop discipline.
Develop a flawless studying strategy
1. Know the topic you are studying
Before studying a topic, research what are the most frequently asked questions for that subject. Start with 15-20 questions regarding the entire content; target the most important aspects and focus your brain on the primary characteristics. Moreover, since these issues are the most demanded, they are more likely to be requested during an examination session. You have then the chance to give a positive response in the exam because you knew that those issues would have emerged!
Conclusion: start from the most frequently asked questions to study something that may be hard to study. This process will simplify the subjects you are trying to study (so it helps with focusing) and will feed your mind with a general overview of the entire topic.
2. Look for summary sections
Search into the chapters that you have to study any exercise or final revision section.
As with the previous point, this will tell you immediately the focal elements that you have not to miss. These arguments are the only ones that will deepen and sharpen your vision of the entire argument. This tip is pretty similar to the previous one, and, as well, it is useful since it helps you find a good way to improve focus.
3. Give yourself a break
Learn to relax. An essential ingredient for a constant concentration is relaxation. Until you learn to relax or to meditate effectively on your thoughts, on your actions, it will seem to you as too much time and energy spent on your activities. Don’t spend all of your energy. Have a break sometimes and learn to relax.
4. Give time to your brain
After a several numbers of hours on studying, your brain needs time to assimilate all the received info. If you keep studying, you enter in a relentless state of new ideas and memory saturation: this is why after hours or days of studying and commitments, despite the fact that you have understood everything, your head is messed up and your memories about that topics are mixed in a bad way.
To avoid the situations mentioned in the previous paragraph, I would strongly suggest you follow this structure for well managing your study sessions:
- 40/50 minutes of study (maximum 60).
- 10-15 minutes of rest, in which you can have a walk or listen to some music, or eat something. Remember that after 40/50 minutes of being seated; you have to walk to oxygenate your brain. Indeed, when we sit for a long time, blood tends to pool in our lower body. A walk around every break is a great incentive to being more concentrated.
- 10 minutes of review of the yet studied topics before starting again.
Try to use a timer to track your performances.
5. Learn to speed read
As a last study concentration tip, I’d like to suggest to try some speed read techniques.
Indeed, reading commitments more quickly will keep your brain concentrate on that content circumventing it to fall into distractions.
I will now propose two critical phases when to apply speed reading techniques:
- Initially, have a global read to identify key points that you can deepen calmly afterward.
- During the review, after the study, you are relying on a high level of understanding because you already know at least the 70% of what you have studied; at this point, you can increase your experience of speed reading because you can review all the focal points of the argument and fix the concepts. The more you will practice speed reading in this way, i.e. discussing after studying, the more you will learn to speed read without problems and, importantly, without distractions.
If you want to discover some of the best speed studying techniques courses online, check Best Grades with the least amount of effort, a unique collection of the most powerful learning techniques, developed by Dr. Marc Dussault.
6. Find one or more study partners
Studying in a meeting with your colleagues is very efficient.
Studying with someone will help you clarify the concepts you did not understand well, break the normal routine of studying alone and make a point on a subject that may be difficult. Your knowledge plus the knowledge of your classmates is a great weapon to beat the burden of studying.
How to maintain concentration
The studying strategy presented in the previous paragraph is very useful also to maintain concentration alive during all your student career.
Additionally, you can refer to the following strategies to keep the right attitude at school while attending lessons and at home while doing your homework:
- Make notecards on a daily basis to memorize the most important (or difficult) concepts, words or mathematical theorems that you have yet learned. Then, review these concepts at the end of the week to have a weekly view of what was important.
- Draw concept maps to have a general view with key points of every concept or topic you studied.
- Speak about important topics you have learned through the week to someone you know (someone you know can listen to what you are saying). Spend 10 minutes to speak about a topic to a friend, to siblings, to your partner. You can also talk about a very annoying topic, just to fix the key concepts.
- Question yourself about certain aspects of the topic that are not treated at school. Research key info that professor did not mention during lessons.
Set a goal during your studying session. For example, set that you have to finish five exercises about a certain topic, or that you have to study 40 pages. Set a reward to get every time you accomplish the goal you have set.
Important: you have to set a reward that you don’t often grant to yourself.
Permit yourself to do even something that could lead you to feel guilty if you haven’t studied: the awesomeness of this is that you can do whatever you want as a reward for having accomplished the goal. And you won’t feel guilty.
All the mentioned steps are the one that can lead you to experience enormous benefits on your memory and upon the health of your mind; more specifically, these techniques will dramatically increase your concentration and your ability to get rid of distractions.
You have just to increase your willpower to take action and acquire discipline, and feel finally happy and rewarded to see the results.