Staying focused while studying can be a challenge for any student, especially when you’re surrounded by distractions.
Facing an especially large or challenging assignment can also deprive you of the ability to focus. Sometimes paying attention can be so difficult that you may think you are suffering from ADD or ADHD. However, maintaining concentration is possible for most people. All you need is a repertoire of solid study skills and tips that can increase your ability to conjure up the tunnel vision you need, even in the most challenging or stressful situations.
- set goals
- manage your time
- improve your learning environment
- be distracted
- ignore the problem
- beat yourself up
- give up
It’s amazing how much our ability to focus increases when we’re engaged in something we either really enjoy or deem as particularly important. Unfortunately, studying can sometimes feel boring and pointless, making concentration seem impossible. While there may not be much you can do to elevate the entertainment factor of the subject you’re studying, you can change your perspective on the task itself. When you set goals for your future, each stepping stone along the way to achieving those goals becomes vitally important. When you begin to see the connection between success in school and achieving your personal goals, studying can take on a whole new meaning, and suddenly, maintaining your focus doesn’t seem so difficult after all.
Having a million things to do and not enough time to do them can create a major focus problem. If you’re overwhelmed by school, extracurricular activities, and social obligations it can be difficult to clear your head long enough to concentrate on any one thing. That’s why prioritizing is essential. Determine what the most important tasks on your to-do list are, and scrap the rest. The less you have to think about, the more you’ll be able to focus on the things that matter the most during your study time.
Even after you have prioritized all of your responsibilities, you still may feel as if there’s simply not enough time in the day to get it all done. If that’s the case, then you need to implement some proven time management skills. Identify the time during the day when you are most alert and productive, and use this time to focus on your biggest, most difficult assignments. If you’re performing at your best, you’ll be able to complete these challenging tasks in a fraction of the time, making your study sessions more productive.
Environment is everything when it comes to focus. Dedicate a space for completing homework and other school assignments. Keep this area free of any potential distractions such as televisions, video game consoles, or telephones. Keep the space stocked with all of the things you will need for studying, so that you don’t compromise your concentration by having to get up and retrieve supplies. Be sure to keep your desk tidy as well. Put only necessities such as your textbook, notebook, and pencil on your desk. If your study space is cluttered and unorganized, you’ll find yourself distracted and have difficulty concentrating.
Although some distractions can’t be helped, there are steps you can take to significantly reduce the chance that a distraction will arise. For instance, don’t answer your telephone, check your email, or send a text message while studying for a test or working on a homework assignment. Allowing yourself to be distracted by these trivial things will only use up your valuable time and negatively affect your academic performance. Practice self-discipline by eliminating all potential distractions from your learning environment, and you’ll see your concentration and productivity soar.
Although multitasking has been described as a skill by some, it’s really nothing more than a way of dividing up your attention. If you are already having trouble focusing, then trying to do multiple things simultaneously will only compound the problem. Instead of overwhelming yourself, decide to concentrate on one thing at a time. You’ll find that as your focus improves, you’ll become more productive and efficient. You will also be less likely to experience stress, a condition that further exacerbates an attention problem.
Even though a lack of focus is a normal condition that most people experience from time to time, that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Problems paying attention while studying and completing school assignments can have dire academic consequences including poor grades, the need for remediation, and missed educational opportunities. These negative effects can have serious short-term consequences and may even prevent you from achieving your personal and career goals. Like most other things, the first step is identifying the problem, but be sure to follow through with targeted actions as well.
You’re certainly not the only one having trouble focusing in today’s climate of information overload. Beating yourself up and engaging in negative self-talk about your trouble paying attention while studying will only make matters worse and give you yet another thing to focus on besides your school work. Be patient with yourself, and celebrate your progress as you work to improve your powers of concentration.
Bad habits are hard to break, and learning to improve your focus and concentration through new patterns of behavior takes time. Keep at it, and find a way to monitor your progress so that you can see your growth over time. If despite your best efforts, you can’t seem to increase your concentration, then it may be time to seek additional help. ADD and ADHD may be over-diagnosed, but they are still very real conditions. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Trouble paying attention and maintaining focus while studying is a common problem that all students face at some point in their academic careers. You can take control of the matter by making some targeted changes to your learning environment and your own behaviors. By taking action and monitoring your progress, you will see significant gains in your ability to focus.