During the last year of my undergrad studies, I found it hard to focus.
I was finally approaching the end of a five-year journey that took me across countless classes in multiple cities, two community colleges, and (at last) one university, and I was DONE. We’re now in the middle of March, and for many of you, the work is piling up and you might feel the same way! You’re tired, you’re hungry, you didn’t get enough sleep last night, and you just want to finish that assignment you’ve been working on for hours. Even though concentrating can get harder as you get busier, don’t fret! There are ways you can get back on track, energized, and ready to take on any challenge. Those methods are part of what I like to call The Art of Focus.
Do Something Else
When you’ve been studying for hours, all those textbooks and homework assignments just start to blend together. Give yourself a break, go do something else! The trick is, it has to be something a little complex that makes you think—just in a different way! During midterm season, I liked to spread a puzzle (500 to 1000 pieces, please!) on a table in my room, and I would take a break and work on it every once in a while. It helped me regain my focus because I was using my right brain, the creative side, and giving my left brain, the analytical side, a rest. This is much better than, say, watching TV because it keeps your brain engaged in a different way so you’re ready to pick up where you left off!
Do Something Nice
Whenever I felt especially overwhelmed by my studies, I dropped everything I was doing and looked for someone that I could help. It could be someone redecorating their room, moving heavy items, fixing something, or even someone who’s also studying, too! Not only does helping others feel good, it completely takes your mind off your own studies for a while. When you get back to your work, you’ll realize you haven’t thought about it in a while (that’s the idea) and you’ll be able to approach it with a fresh mind.
Do Something Creative
Do you like to draw? Paint? Write stories? Do you have a fun hobby? Take some time away from your studies to pursue something fun and creative that will allow you to relieve stress! In my undergrad career, I loved playing video games as a study break (particularly fighting games) because I could shift my focus to a different short-term goal, which left me energized when I got back to my homework. Another great thing to try is to simply lie somewhere comfortable, listen to music, and just stare into space. Make a playlist of your most relaxing songs, find a good spot, and clear your mind. This will help build your study skills when you get back to work.
Get Active (Physically And Verbally)
My environment was one of the reasons why I found it hard to concentrate during a long study session. Basically, I shut myself away in a dimly lit room and surrounded myself with piles of papers, books, notes, and clutter for hours at a time. Set yourself free by going…
say it with me…
If you’re aiming to complete a two-hour study session, take a couple of short 15-minute breaks and go outside (if it’s daytime) or just go walking through your home. Speak to the people you live with, call your friends for a quick chat, talk to your friend’s dog if you have to. Just make sure you’re moving your body and interacting with other people. Studying is often solitary, but it doesn’t have to be lonely!
All of these things are going to take a while to adjust to as you learn what works best for you, but they will help manage your time better. Here’s the point: Work and rest go hand-in-hand. You can’t work constantly, despite other’s (and our own) expectations. You regain focus in times of rest. Take advantage of the many ways you can do that, and you’ll develop razor sharp focus in no time!