For the select few, studying is easy. Sitting down and focusing for a few hours is no sweat and concentrating comes naturally. If only this was the norm for everyone. For the rest of us, we squirm and struggle and waste a great deal of time watching the clock and wishing the time away. This will sadly not help us retain information any faster. Here are some great tips on how to improve / develop concentration while studying and to make those studying sessions go by quickly, and most importantly, efficiently.
In order to fully concentrate you must have the following: ample lighting, enough ventilation, peace and quiet, and organization. It is vital that you have enough fresh air to breathe to prevent your brain from becoming tired; this is due to a lack of oxygen. Ensure that you have a quiet space and keep it clean and free of clutter, as this can become distracting for you.
We all have our own individual ways of learning and we function optimally at different times of the day. Some people study at their best in the early morning and others late at night. Determine what time is the best for you and then plan your studying around that. If you are comfortable with the time allocated to studying in your day, rather than forcing yourself to study at certain times, you will retain more information as you are more relaxed and in control.
Study time has got to be study time. No reading up on friends’ Facebook profiles or checking your text messages. No surfing the web for the latest fashions or games. Study = S.T.U.D.Y. Switch that phone off, put a sign on the door if needed and get to work. The amount of time wasted by distractions could literally cut your study time in half.
Make yourself a deal: in this study session I am going to summarize pages 35 – 50 and then read over them twice. And then do it. Plan to succeed. Have a positive attitude going in and even set little rewards for yourself to keep motivated and focused. When you have achieved your goal, enjoy that reward and get onto the next thing.
This is a great trick. Studies have shown that when we write things down we concentrate better and take in more information. When next you are at the grind, make colourful notes, labels and mind maps. It may seem a bit juvenile, but it works. Stick those notes up on your wall in your study space and when you look up or walk into the area you will automatically read them and remember your work.
Avoid the mistake of studying only one subject for hours on end, as this is monotonous and tedious for your mind as well as your psyche. Plan your work schedule so that you tackle two subjects in a day and then make sure you do entirely different ones the next day, returning to the first subjects on day three of your schedule. Switching up your study program will help you to stay interested and keep you from nodding off while reading the same thing over and over again.
Your study space may feel perfect now, but in due time it may well become a tad boring as you stare at the same four walls for ten days straight. Make a change. Study outside for an hour or two, or compare notes and questions with a friend at a coffee shop to stimulate your brain and positivity levels.
Allow yourself short bursts of downtime in between chapters and questions and get active! Take a quick walk in the garden or to the shop down the road for a cold drink. Play with the dog or make a snack. However, do not engage in any form of TV watching or scrolling through your phone. This will shift your focus away from the work you need to get back to. A quick 15-20 minutes spent outside will have you energized and ready to knuckle down with the next set of work.
Make use of these tips next time you need to study for a test or an exam. They will not only have you more motivated and in control, but you will achieve much better results!