7 Study Hacks Proven to Help You Focus
Updated By Phillip Baker on June 4, 2020
7 Study Hacks Proven to Help You Focus
In the Information Age, it seems as though studying for college exams is about three percent study time and 97 percent not getting distracted by the Internet and social media. Unfortunately, you don’t have time to click on every attention-grabbing link you come across. You need to focus.
But how long can you concentrate while studying? Even when you’re applying all of the best tips, your attention span may only last 20-30 minutes. Luckily, concentration is a learned skill. That means you can train your brain to concentrate for longer periods of time, and implement techniques to improve the effectiveness of your studies.
Creating the Right Study Space
If you’re wanting to know, “How can I increase my concentration while studying?” one of the first things you need to do is optimize your study space. You’ll be able to stay focused long-term for any type of study session if you choose the right place and the right time. Here are some elements to consider when deciding where to study:
Lighting: Make sure you have a well-lit space for your studies. However, your eyes can get tired quickly if the light is too bright, so choose an indirect light to keep your eyes fresh for a longer period of time.
Use a Desk: If you’re studying on your bed or in a comfortable chair, you’ll be more likely to drift off. Sit in an office chair at a desk for best results with your study session. Sit Up Straight: You’ll signal to your body that it’s time to focus when you sit up straight and use good posture. Laying down or sprawling on your stomach will only increase the chance of losing focus.
Remove Distractions. These days, the internet on your computer is distraction enough to pull you away from your studies. If you can, use only a book and notepad to study, or disconnect your device from the internet. Remove other distractions, such as phones, loud music, or magazines and other books.
Make a Study Plan. If you’re wasting time deciding what to study and how to study, you’ll lose concentration by the time you actually get to the material. Make a plan of attack well before you hit the books.
Timing is Everything. Studying right before bed or after lunch is a recipe for disaster. Make sure you choose a time when you’re alert and fresh, such as after a workout or right when you wake up.
Study Tips You Need to Know
With your study environment all ready to go, it’s time to implement some other study tips. Here are seven easy-to-remember study hacks to help you improve your concentration and get the most out of your study time.
STUDY HACK 1. CATCH MORE ZS
Studies show that sleep plays a vital role in your ability to concentrate, as well as your capacity to learn new things. It probably comes as no surprise, then, that not getting a good night’s sleep can negatively impact your mood, your motivation, your energy levels, and your judgment. So, ditch the all-nighters and get about seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Your brain will thank you!
Not getting the results that you want? Is caffeine affecting your study?
STUDY HACK 2. HYDRATE, DON’T CAFFEINATE
Sure, a triple shot of espresso can really help perk you up in the morning, but it’s a short-term gain/long-term loss for your focus. So you may be wondering, “How can I concentrate better while studying if I’m not drinking caffeine?”
Well, if you’re planning on studying for a long time, switch to good ol’ H2O. Water helps deliver stimulating nutrients to your brain, which can help improve alertness and attention. And don’t wait till you’re thirsty to take a drink! According to Harris Lieberman, a research psychologist at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, “Thirst is not the best measure of hydration, so a decrease in your ability to focus is an early warning signal that it’s time to drink up."
STUDY HACK 3. GET PHYSICAL BEFORE YOU GET MENTAL
Still asking yourself, “How can I focus on study and avoid distractions?” Well, the benefits of physical exercise to the brain are many and well documented, but working out about 20 to 30 minutes before you hit the books can be especially helpful to your ability to focus. Exercise, among other things, promotes proper blood flow to your brain, which can help both your concentration and retention. So, do your mind (and your body) a favor and get the lead out of your feet.
STUDY HACK 4. WIGGLE YOUR TOES … NO, SERIOUSLY, WIGGLE YOUR TOES
Olivia Fox Cabane, author of The Charisma Myth, says, “The frenetic nature of our society—constant updates via email and Twitter, for example—provides some sort of excitement every few minutes, and we’ve become trained to expect that. If we’re not stimulated after a short period of time, we look around for something that will do the job.” The solution? Cabane suggests focusing on your toes for a minute when you find your mind wandering. As strange as it sounds, doing so can help shake you back into the present and get you back on task.
STUDY HACK 5. STOP AND SMELL THE ROSEMARY
Who would have thought an item in your spice rack could help your concentration? Research from the U.K. shows that test subjects who were exposed to the scent of rosemary while performing mental tasks performed faster and with greater accuracy. It might help to have some rosemary potpourri in your study area to help clear the cobwebs out of your mind.
STUDY HACK 6. RESPECT THE CLASSICS
Many college students enjoy studying to the beat of their favorite tunes, which often include pop and rock genres. But according to research, classical music is much better for helping you focus during study time. Putting any of Spotify’s many classical playlists on shuffle can ignite the parts of your brain that help you focus on the task at hand and make predictions. Plus, listening to classical music helps put you in a better mood for studying and can even make you see the world in a more positive light.
Studying for exams is very important! But there are times when you need to stop. Find out when it's time to stop studying.
STUDY HACK 7. WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS, GET UP AND MOVE AROUND
Want to know how to focus better when studying? It may sound counterintuitive, but if you find your focus fading, stop studying, get out of the chair, and go out for a change of scenery. Taking frequent, short breaks can help relax your brain and open it up to more intensive studying when you’re ready to hit the books again. If you want, you can even switch up the place where you study. Doing so can not only help you concentrate better, but it can also improve your retention. This is perhaps one of the most important benefits supporting the theory behind outdoor learning.
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