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Stay Focused Longer: 5 Simple Tips to Help You Learn and Work Better

by Tim Reichel

Concentrated work is the key to successful studies. Every day, thousands of students struggle with their learning materials and try to remember the lecture material for the next exam. The sad truth, however, is: many of them fail. These students fail to use their available time productively and to convert the learning units they have used into good grades.

The effort is right - but the exchange rate of learning time / grades is too bad.

You invest hour after hour and still don't get anywhere. Do you know why? I'll tell you: These students are busy with their studies, but they don't study concentrated enough. They read, summarize, repeat, do arithmetic and understand the material - but they take too long to do this. The intensity is missing. These students don't have a strong focus that allows them to do top-level mental work for two or three hours at a time.

Often times, they start learning with the best of intentions and focus on moving forward. But they lose focus after half an hour at the desk at the latest. You get distracted or distract yourself. They get bogged down, waste their time or deviate from their plan. And that regularly.

If you feel the same way and your study sessions often come to nothing, this article will help you. I'll show you five simple tips that will help you stay focused longer and work more focused than ever before. And the best thing is: The following techniques are very easy to implement and will immediately take your way of working to a new level.

Let's start.


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How to stay focused longer

If you concentrated longer want to stay, you don't need expensive self-management courses or questionable substances from the pharmacy. The only thing you need is a new strategy that focuses your attention and protects against external interference.

The following five tips will help you:


Tip # 1: create a written plan!

The most common reason why many students lose concentration after a short period of time is due to a lack of determination. These students start studying without first determining what exactly they want to achieve. They don't have a plan - and that's why they act haphazardly. Concentrated work is not possible in this state because it is unclear what the focus should be on.

Therefore, draw up a specific, written plan before every learning unit, no matter how small. Determine in detail which topics you would like to learn in the following time and which results should be posted afterwards. To do this, it is sufficient if you draw up a short but clear to-do list and note the relevant time slots. Writing it down also gives your plan a certain binding force.

Reading tip: How to create a learning plan for your next exam - step-by-step instructions for a relaxed exam phase


Tip # 2: learn in stages!

If you want to stay focused for long periods of time, that doesn't mean you have to work non-stop. Quite the opposite: Without regular breaks, your concentration will drop sharply. It is not possible to constantly move to the limit of your performance without intermittent recovery. It is only important that you determine these interruptions yourself and use them in a targeted manner.

So get into the habit of learning in stages. Divide your learning session into small work intervals of 30 to 60 minutes and separate these phases with small breaks of 5 to 10 minutes. This rhythm has an optimal effect on your concentration and ensures that you can string together many productive learning units without losing your focus. The best thing to do is to set individual intervals in writing and set a specific goal for each.

Reading tip: How to use the Pomodoro technique to do more in a single day than in a whole week


Tip # 3: Only Mind One Thing!

Your attention is a fleeting good. That means: as fast as it came, it is gone again. One of the greatest attention-killing machines is multitasking. If you switch back and forth between many different tasks and activities, at some point your focus no longer comes along - and disappears. As a result, you become distracted, work more slowly and deliver poor quality results.

Therefore, only concern yourself with one thing at a time. Avoid multitasking and instead focus your attention on a specific task. Bundle your spiritual and mental energy so that you can act efficiently and decisively. Never open multiple construction sites at the same time. Take care of your to-dos, one at a time, and don't let your attention drift away from your real goal.

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Tip # 4: keep a side list!

As you study, you are constantly confronted with new ideas and impulses that can weaken your focus. Open questions about the material, possible exam topics or interesting trains of thought attract your attention and ensure that you are distracted from your actual project. If you did these things directly every time, your session would be anything but productive.

It is therefore advisable to first collect all thoughts that arise while learning on an external list. You can take care of the new ideas later - but you shouldn't be interested in them for the moment. Remember, your goal is to stay focused and not bother about every little thing that comes to mind. This is exactly where a side list helps you to collect everything that could be relevant LATER.

Reading tip: How to use the GTD method to eliminate the chaos in your head forever


Tip # 5: isolate yourself for a moment!

To protect your concentration, you sometimes have to withdraw and isolate yourself from the outside world. And sealing off really means sealing off: Go into your room or in a free space, close the door behind you, close the window, draw the curtains or shutters and isolate yourself completely from your surroundings. Nobody should disturb you, no outside influences are desired. Put on headphones to protect yourself from acoustic distractions and do whatever it takes to be undisturbed.

The same applies on the digital level: Thanks to the internet, we live in an age of unlimited possibilities, but also in an age of unlimited distractions. Your smartphone and computer hold an infinite amount of information ready for you and are just waiting for you to interrupt your study session to check the latest news or stalk your friends. The easiest and most effective way to avoid these online sources of interference is a short but consistent digital foreclosure. Ban your smartphone or browser for the duration of your learning unit or use apps that block your online services for a short period of time.

Reading tip: How to switch off distractions while studying and never lose your concentration again


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Anyone can start learning with concentration - however, staying focused is a skill that only a few students have mastered. And as a rule, it is precisely these students who can show better grades, more free time and a better student life in the end. Why? Because they use their time more productively and convert their learning efforts into better results.

The good news is: Even if you've had a hard time staying focused over a long period of time, you can make significant improvements quickly and easily. All you need is a smart strategy. The five approaches that I showed you in this article will immediately help you change the way you work and learn in a more focused manner.

Create a written plan, divide your learning units into stages and avoid multitasking. Keep a side list and isolate yourself from your surroundings (if necessary) so you can keep your focus and stay focused. The measures aren't complicated or particularly uncomfortable - they're simple and can help you right away. You just have to try.


Image: © Matteo Vistocco /