People today have a harder time paying attention than they used to about a decade ago. Students seem to be affected the most by this rising trend of short attention spans and dwindling focus. This problem is a direct effect of the advent of technology and complicated social mores that provide a constant barrage of external stimulus on our senses throughout the day.
Students complain that they sit down to study but don’t remember a word of what they read or they try to complete an assignment but can’t finish it because they are unable to focus long enough to get any real work done. To combat this, here are some simple tips to help you focus better:
Meditation is one of the most effective techniques to improve focus and concentration. It is a relaxation exercise designed to clear your mind of distractions and focus your energy on the task at hand. It improves the mind’s ability to be productive and retentive. You do not have to go to a yoga class to learn how to meditate. In this situation it is not an exact science. Just take a few minutes to clear your head, focus and get into study mode before you sit down to study or complete an assignment. This is also an effective training exercise to use right before you start writing an exam.
Regular physical activity and exercise improve cognitive control. An active lifestyle is recommended as opposed to a sedentary way of life. However, something as simple as a short walk or a few quick stretches during study breaks can go a long way to help you recharge and refocus. Not only as a part of daily life, but it is also recommended that you incorporate some physical exercise into your study breaks as it helps stretch out muscles that are cramped from sitting at your desk for hours, refreshes the mind and boosts memory.
Even the slightest dehydration can affect your ability to pay attention and focus. Have water close at hand whenever you intend to concentrate, at class or at home. However don’t make water or bathroom breaksa distraction between your study hours. Try drinking Tea instead of coffee when you need a little pick-me-up during study hours. Black tea is a great memory boost that leaves you feeling alert and focused. While coffee may help you stay awake, tea contains properties that help you concentrate and perform your tasks better.
Whether in class or during independent study, the best way to focus is to engage in what you are being taught and what you are learning. In class, this can mean anything from actively participating by asking and answering questions or contributing to class discussions. It may involve taking notes as it keeps you awake during long lectures. Take down handwritten notes rather than typing on a laptop as it has been scientifically proven to encourage active listening. When studying alone, use mind maps, chart, summaries and pointers to help you buckle down and focus. Writing down points as you cover them is a great way to keep your mind from wandering while studying by yourself.
Listening to instrumental music like Beethoven or Mozart can help you feel calm and focused. You can incorporate music in various ways into your study schedule depending on what works for you. You may listen to some music right before you sit down to study in order to relax, clear your head and prepare yourself to get into the right frame of mind to study. You may keep music playing in the background as you study to keep yourself awake and alert. You can listen to music during your study breaks to refresh yourself and unwind. Some students enjoy putting on soundtracks of their favourite TV shows or movies in order to inspire and motivate themselves while studying. Whatever you do, ensure that your music doesn’t become a distraction and make you less productive. It is meant to be a help and not a hindrance so be careful about incorporating music with lyrics into your study schedule.
- Avoid All Distractions:
The most important hurdle in the way of students’ attention spans are their distractions. Students find it very difficult to unplug from their TVs, laptops and mobile phones even for a little while. However, this is essential to address this problem and must be done. Stay away from TVs, music systems and video games. If you must work on your laptop and use the internet, sign out of social media sites and emails. Close unnecessary tabs and remember to disable all alerts on your laptops while you study. Put your phone on silent and keep it away. Do not check it or reply to anything while you study. Ensure your roommates and family members know not to disturb you while you are studying.
- Deal with Emotional Distractions:
Students today lead very complex social lives and are under a lot of pressure to conform and stand out at the same time. They deal with an immense amount of pressure, from their peers, at school and at home. Emotional stress is one of the primary distractions that take away from their focus and attentiveness. Our brains are wired to pay attention to emotional stressors before dealing with goals and objectives. This is why it is important for students to find a way to clear their minds of these emotional distractions by meditating, listening to music or going for a walk before they sit down to study.
- Keep Track of Time:
Schedule your work according to a timetable or use a notebook to keep track of how you are utilizing your time. This helps you feel accountable and shows you where you waste too much time. Clock watching is not always advisable, as you may spend four hours at your desk and accomplish nothing if you haven’t paid attention. However, if you have studied attentively, keeping track of the time will help you feel good about what you have accomplished.
- Reward and Incentivize:
Rewards are a great way to motivate yourself to pay attention. Set small goals by dividing your work into smaller subtopics and reward yourself each time you cover a subtopic. This is a great way to will yourself to stay focused for long periods of time. For example, if you need help with essay writing, you can try these Tips to make you Essays perfect to score better than your classmates and reward yourself with a story book once you finish.
Human attention spans are incapable of working at optimum capacity without small breaks. Don’t try to finish all your work in one shot as you will not be able to pay complete attention for more than an hour. Our brains need short breaks to regroup in between hours of study. So your attention span depends more on your ability to refocus after a break than on your ability to pay attention at a stretch. Most students are unable to maintain their focus after a break. Their problem lies in their ability to refocus. So ensure your breaks are planned scientifically to help you refresh and regroup but not distract you from your purpose.
So work hard and use these Daily Tips to Increase your Attention Span and improve your Academic Performance. Happy Studying!