How to Increase Concentration (Studying Hack)

a young girl looking out of the window

The life of a student is great. You have the freedom to learn, to grow, to find yourself, hang out with your friends. Now if only you could skip over the actual studying part you might be on to something! School work is real work, and sooner or later you are going to have to buckle down and get your grey matter in gear and do some serious studying.

When you need to buckle down, the ability to concentrate is an important one. If you are used to the noise of the Internet and gadgets, where you get things popping up at you right away with little to no waiting, having to sit down and focus on studying can seem like a real chore. Not to worry, help is at hand. Since you know you have to study or run the risk of flunking out of school, here are some suggestions to help you buckle down and improve your ability to concentrate when it matters:

Start by getting organized

Make sure that you have all the materials you need in one location. If you have to get up to go look for books or papers, concentration-killer. It will also mean that you will be spending a lot more time studying or working on your assignment than if you got organized right away.

Make sure your environment is comfortable

If the room is too hot or too cold, you won’t be able to work effectively. Are you hungry or thirsty? Make necessary adjustments to your environment and look after these basics before you get started. You won’t do your best work if you are listening to your stomach rumble. It’s a good idea to have a bottle of water with you so that you can stay well hydrated while you are working.

Remove distractions from your desk

Take everything off your desk except for the coursework or study materials you are dealing with right now. Place other books or papers on the floor or in another location for the time being. You need to give this subject your full attention.

Use your course outline as a guide

If you aren’t sure where to start tackling the material you should be studying, pull out your course outline. Use it to give you some structure around where to start in your studying. It will list the main units that the course covers. Once you have the main units listed, you can start making a list of each chapter or section your instructor has covered. Then start filling in smaller pieces until it starts to make more sense. You should be able to see a pattern emerge as you go through this process.

Try to find something interesting about the course material

You may not find a course particularly interesting, but if you do some digging you should be able to find some nugget of information that is interesting about the topic. You have to do the work of studying anyway and for some courses this is going to be a stretch, but try to put the best face on the experience that you can.

Don’t worry about your school performance

If you are worried about not doing well in your studies, you will find it very difficult to stay focused on anything you are trying to read or write. The harder you try, the more you will feel bogged down in the exercise.

Try taking a few deep breaths to clear your mind and help you feel ready to settle down to work. A good technique to try is inhaling for three seconds, holding your breath for three seconds, and exhaling for three seconds. This will give you time to slow down any racing thoughts and a too-rapid heartbeat. Once you feel more centered, it will be easier for you to take in the ideas you are trying to learn.

Take a break when you feel you need one

If your mind starts wandering and you can’t stay on topic, look at your watch. If you have been working diligently for a couple of hours without a break, get up and stretch. Have something to drink. Eat a snack or a meal if you are hungry. Give yourself a limited time to recharge and then sit back down to work so that you can concentrate anew.

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