How do I concentrate fully on my studies?

Advisory Jan. 2018

You sit down at your desk to study and all of a sudden it's 2 a.m. and you're still hanging in front of YouTube - does that sound familiar? Every student knows that staying focused can be tough at times. Often you sit at your desk for hours and still feel like you haven't done much.

Unfortunately, there is no quick fix to avoid procrastination and stay focused. But there are a few tricks to improve your focus and thereby advance your studies faster.

Eliminate things that distract you

You need the right environment to concentrate fully. You have probably already noticed how much more productive you can study in the library compared to at home? That's because you don't have the same distractions in the library as you do in your own room. From annoying roommates to electronic devices, there are many things that can interrupt your study sessions.

Start by identifying the worst culprits when it comes to distraction and work on removing them one by one. If you check your phone every five minutes (especially when it's on silent), turn it off until you're done and consider studying outside - somewhere you know you won't be bothered.

Create a learning playlist

If you go to a study area at university, you will find that most of the people there wear headphones. Research has shown that listening to classical music can help improve alertness and memory while studying - the so-called Mozart effect. Even if Mozart is not the first choice for your learning playlist, classical music is good for concentration because there are no texts that could distract you.

The popular streaming services are full of educational playlists and classical music, so you can experiment until you find out what works best for you. However, if you find it difficult to concentrate with music, you should instead listen to so-called ambient sounds with soft, warm sounds. This will still block external distractions without distracting you.

Lock your browser

With apps like StayFocused and ColdTurkey you can block certain websites - like social networks. You can still access the resources you need online, but you are prevented from going to the websites that are distracting you. If you don't want to do without completely, you can first determine how much time you will be allowed to spend on social networks or any other website that would normally distract you from studying.

Make a to-do list

Sometimes when you are at your desk you are overwhelmed by the amount of things you have to do. There are always deadlines that have to be met. A to-do list can help you prioritize tasks and keep track of what still needs to be done.

It's easy to worry a lot about unfinished business. By using a list, you focus on actually getting things done instead of pondering how much you have left to do.

Reward yourself

You often lose focus if you've studied too long or if you have no incentive to finish a particular task. To avoid this, reduce your workload and concentrate on set tasks. Then reward yourself for each completed task. That way, if your attention starts to drift, you can use the reward as an incentive to quit your job instead of moving it to another day.

No multitasking

Instead of trying to do everything at once, focus on one thing. Multitasking pulls your focus in different directions and in the end none of the tasks will get your full attention. According to a 2009 study by Stanford University, students who described themselves as media multitaskers had poor results for attention span, memory capacity, and the ability to move from one task to the next.

To counter the urge to multitask, make your learning sessions task-based - with the goal of doing a specific task at a time - rather than having a long session where you want to do everything on your to-do list.

Follow this 5 minute rule

When you feel that your focus is falling, your frustration increases and you are tempted to give up completely. Try this technique to stay motivated.

If you start to get bored or lose focus, tell yourself that you will study for another 5 minutes and then take a break. When the time is up, aim for another five minutes, and so on. Staying focused for five minutes sounds a lot more realistic than convincing yourself to stay focused until you are done with all of your work.

It can be difficult to focus on learning when you have other things on your mind. \

Whether it's about getting home or tips on how to get organized at university.

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