8 Tricks for Better Concentration and More Productivity

Updated By Staff Writer on April 27, 2020

As a studying college student, you’ve probably heard the saying that you should study two to three hours per credit hour each week. As if spending hours every day studying isn’t hard enough for the human brain, our society is now flooded with distractions and disruptions that ruin focus rather than encourage it. You also probably know that studying for 36 or more hours per week is practically impossible. In reality, today’s college students spend 17 hours a week studying, which might not be nearly enough if you’re taking a full course load. Many of us lead hectic lives, making it necessary to get more out of our limited study time. To do this, we must limit our distractions and increase our focus, which is easier said than done. Think of all the things that can distract you while you’re trying to get your homework done:

  • Reading news websites
  • Checking social media
  • Talking with fellow students about non-study material
  • Calling, texting, or messaging friends
  • Making hot drinks like coffee and hot chocolate
  • Eating snacks

Not only do these non-related activities interfere with your ability to focus, but they can hinder productivity. These eight simple strategies can help you improve your concentration so you can complete schoolwork more efficiently in the limited time you have.

1.  Make a Reasonable List

A specific list gives your study time a sense of purpose. Instead of approaching your studying haphazardly, make a list of what you need to accomplish, and then go down the list until everything is checked off. This will help you focus on one thing at a time, which is vital for productivity. By the way, did you know that multitasking is a productivity killer?

2.  Tackle the Hard Stuff First

Instead of procrastinating and saving your hardest assignments or subjects for last, tackle them first. This will help you get your biggest challenge out of the way. It will also give you the positive boost you need to keep working.

3.  Analyze Your Needs

Before you start studying, go over your list and see what subjects require email, internet, or cell-phone service. You’ll probably be surprised to find that most of your tasks don’t demand any of these. So, you can leave your internet off or your phone on airplane mode until you’ve completed the big things on your list.

4.  Eliminate Distractions

When you sit down to study, make an effort to eliminate anything that might distract you. Make a conscious decision to separate yourself from distracting factors. Choose a clean, clutter-free space. Turn your phone completely off, or leave it in a different room. Put on instrumental, ambient music that sets the tone but doesn’t interrupt. If you’re studying in a library or a coffee shop, try to find a spot with the least amount of foot traffic.

5.  Take Productive Breaks

Breaks are essential if you wish to stay productive and focused. The catch is to be smart about the kinds of breaks you take. Go outside to stretch your legs and get fresh air. Lie down in the grass and resist the urge to bury your face in your phone for just 15 minutes. Walk around and get your blood flowing a bit. Not only will you give your mind the mental break it needs to stay focused, but productive breaks will also help you retain and process the information you’ve been studying.

6.  Manage Your Time Strategically

College is the perfect place to practice and perfect your time-management skills. Give yourself more time to complete a task than you think you might need, in order to account for unexpected challenges or unavoidable distractions. Plan study sessions during the time of day when you know you’ll be more focused and energetic. For example, if you know you’re a morning person, get your studying done early in the day.

7.  Don’t Multitask

Remember how we mentioned that multitasking is a productivity killer? Well, our brains simply aren’t designed to multitask. Attempting to do so can actually increase your stress levels.

Be kind to your brain by handling only one thing at a time. You’ll be surprised how quickly you’re able to get things done and how well you can stay focused.

8.  Get Plenty of Rest

As simple as it may sound, you’ll be amazed how well you operate after a good night’s sleep. Not only will you find it easier to focus on complex tasks, but you’ll also be able to retain information better and plan more strategically. By following these eight simple suggestions, you’ll find that quality studying leads to a more balanced, enriching, and productive college life. For more information on getting the most out of your college experience, learn more about student life at Independence University. Independence University admits students of any race, color, and national or ethnic origin.