How To Focus

Contents

EFFECTIVE STUDY STRATEGIES

effective study strategies

HOW TO FOCUS WHEN STUDYING

We all want to know how to focus better

And to know which effective study strategies work best for us – because we each have our own strengths and challenges when trying to memorize concepts and applying them correctly when we encounter difficult exam questions

ATTENTION SPAN

According to a study conducted by Microsoft in 2015, the attention span of an average human is….8 seconds! 

Less than that of a goldfish (9 seconds) http://time.com/3858309/attention-spans-goldfish

EFFECTIVE STUDY STRATEGIES IN THE NEW MOBILE PHONE ERA 

The mobile revolution began around 2000. Many people had mobile phones before that, but phone ownership wasn’t all that pervasive yet

According to surveys conducted before 2000, the average attention span of humans was around 12 seconds

And 15 years later, it became 9 seconds

IS IT DIFFICULT FOR YOU TO CONCENTRATE?

Concentration takes a great deal of mental energy. There are distractions everywhere, making it harder and harder to pay attention to the tasks that we must complete

And let’s be honest about it – we do need distractions because we enjoy them

DO EFFECTIVE STUDY STRATEGIES EVEN EXIST?

Are there any effective study strategies that can accommodate our wanting to relax (we all want to chill 24 hours a day, if we are allowed to) while realistically helping us drive up our academic grades?

DIFFICULTY IN CONCENTRATING

Difficulty in concentrating is a normal occurrence that most of us go through

Tiredness and emotional stress can cause concentration problems in everyone

Hormonal changes can also affect how we think and concentrate

WHY ARE WE DISTRACTED?

Our brains like to seek out what is new, and what is new and interesting

With all the technological advances around us, will the length of our attention span continue to drop?

This is a serious concern to students, parents, teachers. And really, to just about anyone

Is it possible for us to be disciplined and know how to focus better?

WHAT DISTRACTS US?

Before we figure out what suits us when we want to know how to focus, we should find out what distracts us

What are the things that distract us so much that we sometimes find it hard to focus on our homework revision, project work or cram-studies for our exams?

ELECTRONIC DEVICES

Games, YouTube, social media, email, instant messaging and web surfing are some distractions that keep us busy on our electronic devices

MULTI-TASKING

Most of us are confident that we can multi-task

Yet, there are many studies that show that perhaps, multi-tasking is not good for whatever we want to achieve

ARE DISTRACTIONS HARMFUL?

The Research in Higher Education Journal published the results of an experiment involving 62 undergraduate students taking a Principles of Accounting course in the United Kingdom

Half of these students were allowed to text during a lecture and the other half had their phones switched off. After the lecture, both groups took the same quiz

The students that did not text scored much higher grades in the quiz

WE ARE SO BUSY

Are distractions really an actual problem to us? 

Surely we are smart enough to cope

We are busy people and there are so many things we need to complete by the end of every day

THE DISTRACTED MIND

According to the book The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World (MIT-2016), distraction occurs when we are pursuing a goal that really matters and something blocks our efforts to achieve it

It does look like we are more easily distracted than we would like to admit

Distractions can be a serious threat to how we understand the content that our schools teach, which in turn is likely to affect our exam grades

SIGNS THAT WE CANNOT FOCUS PROPERLY

Being able to focus is an important component of effective study strategies

Being unable to concentrate affects people differently. Some symptoms that we encounter can include:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Frequently losing things
  • Difficulty remembering where things are
  • Lack of ability to think clearly
  • Inability to make decisions
  • Making careless mistakes

Lifestyle changes that caused some of these might be:

  • Lack of enough sleep
  • Hunger
  • Anxiety
  • Medication or medical condition

CAN WE IMPROVE OUR CONCENTRATION?

One of the best ways to de-clutter our minds is to: Write it down

What are the recurring thoughts that are distracting our focus?

We know that we have many things on our minds, and we cannot seem to stop thinking about those thoughts no matter how hard we try

The more we try to forget, the more these thoughts dominate our minds! 

If we write them down, our minds will know that our thoughts are now in a safe place, so it won’t focus as much on trying to remember them

Our minds can then move on to the things that really matter

USEFUL AND EFFECTIVE STUDY STRATEGIES - DOING THESE HELP YOU FOCUS BETTER

This list is also useful when you want to focus better:

Tell your brain to focus

Before you start on an important task – like studying or taking an exam – calm your mind. Sit in a comfortable location, and for the next 1 to 2 minutes, breathe deeply and s-l-o-w-l-y. Let your body physically calm down before you begin the difficult work. Make an effort to do this, and you will see how quickly and how well it works for you

Prioritize what you want to focus on for the next 30 and 60 minutes

Every day is a busy day, whether we are parents or students. Decide for yourself what is most important and what must be done before by the end of the hour or the end of that day – and make sure that it gets done. Ask yourself what are the consequences if you don’t do that task, so that it becomes easier for you to not avoid the unpleasant work and responsibilities we must face every day

Take short breaks – students find that this is possibly one of the most effective study strategies

Our ability to concentrate reduces when we try to work straight through a project. Every hour, we should take a short mental break so that our brain can feel re-energized. Walk away from our desk, watch an interesting video (just one, not 20), respond to messages, or eat a snack

LIFESTYLE INFLUENCES CAN AFFECT EFFECTIVE STUDY STRATEGIES

If the reason for your inability to concentrate is due to lifestyle influences, you can:

  • Eat a balanced diet, comprising fruits, vegetables and lean proteins
  • Get more sleep
  • Taking steps to reduce stress – like listening to music, watching a movie, reading a book or chatting with friends

Think of “Focus” as being a muscle. The more we build it, the stronger it gets

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Students learn at their own pace – this means that at home, you can choose to be studying the same chapters as the ones your school teacher is covering…or you can opt to study ahead, or revise one or two chapters behind your school

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