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Improve your focus while studying

Improve your focus while studying

You’ve got stacks of notes and problems to solve before your next test- how do you stay focused long enough to make sure you understand the material?  For most students, having the discipline to focus on studying difficult, boring, or long notes is the most challenging part of preparing for a test or completing assignments.  This article, put together by the education experts at Action Potential Learning gives a simple procedure for you to follow to make sure you maximize your performance on tests and homework.

The most important component of studying is planning out a specific schedule that maximizes your productivity. Most students accomplish this by taking notes and putting together an agenda that outlines when an assignment is due, when a test is scheduled, and when there are important dates that must be noted. If you don’t do this yet- start now! It’s important for you to stay organized and focus on preparing for major due dates well in advance. In addition to organizing your school life, structure each evening to include every task that must be completed that day to help maximize your performance.

While your agenda should serve as general map from your starting point to your end goal, you must create a plan that gives you turn-by-turn instructions to get where you need to be. Plan your evenings to the minute: create a list of items that you must complete that evening (a simple checklist) but attach to it a specific time frame it must be completed in. Label each item with A, B, C or D etc. without considering which ones you "feel like" doing. This will force you to get the most important tasks done first without procrastinating on the stuff that you know is due but keep putting off. This component alone will help you push yourself to stay focused to complete a task.

Your study tasks should be broken down into manageable chunks of 20- 40 minutes each. Anything longer may cause your focus to drift elsewhere, and decrease your study time efficiency. Incorporate mini- breaks between tasks (about 5 minutes) to energize yourself so you can keep moving forward. Every two hours, incorporate a longer (no more than 30 minutes) break. Setting a timer will help you stick to your schedule and help motivate you to complete each task within the given time frame, helping you get back on track when your break period is up.

It’s important to understand the context of the breaks you set for yourself. There should be no time allotted for social media, television, or internet surfing. These types of breaks have actually been shown to decrease productive activity. Instead, focus your breaks on reading a news article, discussing your day with your parents or friend, doing a few sit-ups to help energize yourself, or eat a brain- healthy snack. You could even consider incorporating a brisk walk or exercise routine into your longer breaks because fulfilling activities, especially exercise have also been shown to improve attention.

Your brain is always focused on something. Even when you drift off and don’t pay attention to the task at hand, you’re still paying attention- it’s just to something else. Incorporating frequent productive breaks into your study routine helps train your brain to pay attention to what’s important longer, and also helps give you manageable chunks of time where you really push yourself to stay motivated and focused on your study tasks.

This simple method adds additional structure to your day to help improve your focus, thus improving your performance in class. Try these tips at your next study session, and watch your productivity improve immediately!

Article written by Shayna L. Pond and Action Potential Learning

Action Potential Learning provides private tutoring in math and science as well as standardized test prep. As math and science specialists, our tutors know and understand difficult math and science concepts and can help you improve your grades and perform on standardized tests.

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