One of the biggest reasons that college students tend to stay up late, neglect their health, and have lower GPAs is their lack of focus. While this doesn’t just apply to those in college, it certainly has a larger impact as they tend to be more independent and choose what to do with their time. Inability to focus can actually be a huge obstacle for college students who want to make the most out of their education so listed below are five tips to get focused to save time and not get sidetracked.
The first and most important thing to do is drink water. Researchers have deduced that it can significantly improve someone’s ability to focus, as well as being able to retain and recall more information. If possible, try exercising before studying. Even just 15 to 20 minutes of aerobic exercise can provide an immediate boost in energy and executive function, helping students avoid distractions and focus on work. Make sure to also work at a time of day when you naturally have more energy, whether that be in the morning, afternoon, or evening. This will make it much easier to sit down and focus on a task.
Get Rid of External Distractions
Turn off or silence all electronic devices and if you can’t turn them off, put them on silent to avoid getting distracted by notifications. Try working in a different area than you normally do, preferably somewhere with fewer potential distractions. For example, a college student could try working in a coffee shop or a library instead of their dorm. If you want to work somewhere quiet but can’t work in complete silence, try listening to ambient sounds or classical music which promote focus and concentration.
Clear Your Mind
It’s incredibly hard to focus if you’re thinking of a million different things so the best method to temporarily clear your head so you can focus on the task at hand is to write everything down so you don’t forget it and can come back to it later. If you have something in particular that you’re worried about, make a commitment to deal with it later. Set an alarm for a time in the future so your brain can trust you enough to let go, knowing that you’ll get to it later. Remind yourself to not work on anything but what you planned to do.
Break Down Tasks
One of the most helpful things you can do when working on a task is to start by concentrating on the very next step that needs to be taken in order to make progress. For example, if you need to write an essay, instead of thinking about working on the entire essay, focus on writing the first paragraph. Commit to working on a small piece of the overall assignment so that you’re 100% confident in your ability to do it successfully. This will not only make it easier for you to actually get started because there’s less pressure to actually complete the task, but it will also allow you to take necessary breaks.
Overall, one of the worst parts of not being able to focus is wasting time that you could’ve spent working or doing other important things. To remedy this, create constraints that require you to finish your work at a particular time. One example of this is to tell a friend that you will call them at 8pm, then set a goal of finishing your work before that so you have the incentive to work faster. Another method is using short intervals and giving yourself a deadline for an individual task rather than all of your work in general.
Written by: Anumita Basani
August 30, 2021