It can be tough when you’re sat at home with a pile of coursebooks to work your way through and that film you haven’t seen in a while is on in half an hour. But wait, focus your mind, you won’t make the grade unless you study hard and show a little discipline. Is it worth risking underachievement by indulging in a few creature comforts? Of course it isn’t. Open your book and take pen in hand. Then follow these 5 tried and tested tips to help you increase your focus and study harder.
(1) Remove Unwanted Distractions
Banish your mobile and iPod to a draw. Handwrite notes with your computer off at first; otherwise you’ll start checking Youtube videos after an hour of study. If you must have music on in the background set the volume low and try to keep it instrumental. Catchy lyrics will divert your attention from your books. You’re trying to get along with your studies, not have a sing-along with Nirvana. You really must isolate yourself away from distractions if you want to study well.
(2) Devise a Helpful Time Schedule
It’s important to set your study sessions at suitable times. This is crucial if you are in shared accommodation with other students. Set study sessions apart from meal times. You’ll get distracted by the smell of food and roped into preparing pasta faster than you can say, “failed exams!” Know thyself. If you’re a night owl, study at night, but make sure you get sufficient sleep. Ask your housemates to help you. Get them to give you a heads up when they’re having guests so you can shuffle off to the library.
(3) Stock Study Provisions
Yes, I know it sounds dramatic. You’re studying for exams, not mounting a polar expedition. But repeatedly getting up for drinks and snacks breaks your concentration and can lead to you being diverted away from your books by a chance encounter. Take a bottle of water, some fruit or even prepare some sandwiches beforehand. Don’t chew the end of your pen, your ink’s meant for your pad.
(4) Break Up Your Studies with Exercise
What? Students exercise? They can do, yes. None of your indolent student stereotypes here, thank you. A great way to sharpen concentration and take a short break from the books is to engage in some light exercise. Try a few press ups or sit ups. Go for a brisk walk around the block to clear your head if a particular problem is getting the better of you. Controlled breaks in which you actively take a moment to completely pull yourself away from your studies, so that you can return sharp and refreshed a little while later, is a positive way to sustain long term focus.
(5) Hire a Girl to Slap You in the Face?!
Yes, you read it right. Take a look at this hilarious case study. It involves a man who sought to boost his productivity by advertising on Craigslist for a work partner to keep him in check and focussed during set work periods. The basic idea is sound. Having someone to study with can enable the two of you to push each other on, so think about giving it a go. The slapping is optional.
- License: Creative Commons image source
Natalie is a freelance journalist and student. She currently contributes to York Prep and when she’s not studying she enjoys helping people increase their productivity.