Concentrating in our frenetic world is challenging. Getting away from it all and finding time to focus is next to impossible. Between cell phones, tablets, laptops, gaming consoles, email alerts and hectic schedules, sometimes it’s a wonder that we find time to breathe. Everywhere you turn, there’s another story of a relationship dissolving, jobs lost, opportunities missed or health suffering from that stress and inability to mentally escape and focus.
If finding time to concentrate on the little things like planning a vacation or building a budget is hard, is it any wonder that students everywhere are looking for solutions and strategies focused on how to improve your concentration during study time?
It’s a serious problem, and one with dangerous side effects in the student community, problems that go beyond sleepless nights and stressed out days. In a 2011 study published in The Journal of Physician Assistant Education, more than 10% of the students studied reported having misused prescription stimulants to boost their academic performance. Of those, more than 90% said that their primary goal was to boost concentration or focus. The struggle is real.
Fortunately, you don’t have to resort to dangerous or illegal activities to give yourself an academic edge. Simply realizing that concentration isn’t just a want, but an actual need, can work wonders for prioritizing focus and concentration. Here are four more tips and tactics for improving concentration, not only during study time but in the rest of your life as well.
Simple Strategy #1: Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!
It seems like the whole world wants us to drink more water. Recent studies are lending weight to that argument in a very specific way. In 2012, The Journal of Nutrition released a study that showed that even mild dehydration led to marked inattention. One of the most significant impacts of this study is that the inattention set in long before feelings of thirst were felt. That means you don’t actually have to feel thirsty for dehydration to already have started waging war with your mental acumen. Before your designated study time (which we’ll discuss in a bit more detail next), drink 16-24 ounces of water.
Simple Strategy #2: Create a Fairly Rigid Routine
Whether we like it or not, humans are creatures of habit. The more habitual something is, the more ingrained it gets into our character and behavior. If you struggle with focus or concentration, you need to carve out a solid block of time on your schedule that’s dedicated to cracking the books, taking notes and other study-related tasks.
Be realistic as you carve out this block. Make sure it won’t interfere with things that will cause distractions. This means not just isolating yourself and going hermit style, but also not missing out on activities or events that will distract you to the point of absolute frustration. Once you designate that block, stick to it – religiously. If you have to, institute a system of punishments and rewards to keep you accountable.
Simple Strategy #3: Have a Study Agenda in Place
Studying means different things to different people. The demands of one class might greatly exceed the demands of another. This means you’ll need to create custom strategies and objectives for each class and give them designated blocks of your scheduled study time. A lot of students have a hard time getting in the “groove” of their study mojo. If you dedicate the first 15 minutes of your study time towards creating an agenda of which classes you’re going to tackle, which chapters you have to read, which assignments you have to complete and a deadline to get it done in, you can get your mind in gear and have a clear task laid out before. Just knowing the lay of a battlefield can tremendously boost your chances of success.
Simple Strategy #4: Get Physical!
In her book, The Charisma Myth, author Olivia Fox Cabane comments, “If we’re not stimulated after a short period of time, we look around for something that will do the job. This is true whether we’re reading a dull news story or involved in a conversation.” Part of this is due to how active we are mentally. There’s always a new tweet or status update or group discussion on LinkedIn going on. The Internet never sleeps, and now, neither are we! If we’re not stimulated, our brains wonder all over the place. Olivia recommends activity as simple as just wiggling your toes or rolling your foot at the ankle.
Need more tips on being a better student? It’s one of our specialties. We design courses for new students as well as working professionals earning new credentials or enhancing their current skill set. Find out more by visiting our website or contact us today for specific strategies and recommendations.