Wednesday, 20 April 2016

How To Stay Focused

How to stay focused | - A student lifestyle blog
Staying focused is half the battle with revision. I know what it's like: you sit down with your textbooks, notes and some highlighters, and it goes really well for the first 10 minutes, and then bam, motivation gone. The phone's out, you've clicked on Facebook, and now you've got distracted.

I probably shouldn’t mention this, but YAY I HAVE NO EXAMS. For the first exam season in like 7 years, I am free of exams.

Next year though is my final year, so don't worry, I'll be revising twice as hard next year.

It's not easy to stay focused on revision, but there are definitely ways you can help.

How to stay focused

Stay hydrated

This is so key. You will find it so much harder to focus if you are dehydrated; your brain just can't work properly. Make sure you're drinking enough water and always have a glass of water within reach when studying.

How to stay focused | - A student lifestyle blog

Exercise before a study session

There's a ridiculous amounts of health benefits from exercising, but you don't need me to tell you that. However you might not know, or realise how much, exercise can benefit your studying. This article explains the benefits in much more detail, but in short, exercise helps to get your body going, your brain cells moving and important chemicals being released which all helps with retention and cognitive abilities. There's also those physical benefits too, in case the words 'beach body' have crossed your mind.

You don't have to do much to start seeing the benefits, and you don't need a gym membership. Just go for a short run or follow a youtube workout video in your room.

Turn your phone on Do Not Disturb or Airplane Mode

If you're going to get distracted by your phone, and let's face it, that's the vast majority of us, the best thing you can do is just switch the thing off. Except this just makes me (irrationally) nervous that someone can't reach me if there's an emergency, so I tend to keep mine on Do Not Disturb, so I don't get notifications except for when certain people try to contact me or for repeat calls. I also use my timer on my phone when I revise so I don't like to switch it off!

How to stay focused | - A student lifestyle blog

Use apps that help you stay focused

My favourite is Forest. I think it was 79p or something from the App Store but it's such a good little app. The idea of it is that you set a timer, say 30 minutes, and a little tree will grow during that time. However if you exit the app, the tree dies. It's such a good feeling at the end of the day to look at your little field and see how many trees you've grown (and how productive you've been!)

Another good one is SelfControl or StayFocused which blocks certain websites on your laptop. So I'm talking like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Netflix, Bloglovin, Youtube, I think you get the idea. This way you can't be lured in by the 'I'll put Netflix on in the background' or the 'I'll just check to see if I have any notifications on Facebook' type thing.

Tidy room, Tidy mind

I cannot focus in a messy space. Full stop. If I start revising without a clear desk or a clean room, I'll last 10 minutes before I start procastidying (I just made that word up, but it should be a thing). Honestly though, I feel like I've got such a clearer mind and it's so much easier to concentrate when I haven't got last night's plate from dinner on the floor or dirty clothes hanging off the chair.

How to stay focused | - A student lifestyle blog

Set Goals

Taking 5-10 minutes to plan what you will revise before you open the textbook will make such a difference. You will have focus as you know exactly what you need to get done. And when you've ticked one thing off your list, you know what you need to do text, and it'll help with motivation.

You could also factor in rewards. One of my favourite rewards was eating a gummy bear after reading every page in a textbook. Rewarding yourself with a 5 or 10 minute break would be good too.

Listening to Music

This is completely personal preference. Some people work well to music, some need complete silence. I personally like having some background noise, but if I pick music with lyrics I know then I'll just end up focusing on the song instead of my revision. Therefore I either go to a public place like a café or a library to study so it's not completely silent, or I put some background noise youtube videos on (such as a thunderstorm or waves) or I listen to lyricless music. My favs are the 'Theory of Everything', Harry Potter or Animal Crossing soundtrack .

This is also a good website for background noise (here)

How to stay focused | - A student lifestyle blog

Take regular breaks

Even though it might seem counter-intuitive to take lots of breaks, there's only so long you can focus for before your attention drifts (why do lecturers with a 2 hour slot not understand this?)

You should take a break at the most after an hour of studying. I tend to study in 30 minute blocks, and take a 5 minute break and then a 15 minute break (I time them too). It might seem like a lot, but you'll find that your focus and productivity increases so much more if you pause every now and then!

Now I've written this post, I actually feel like I want to sit down and bang some revision out, and I haven't even got anything to revise for!

What tips do you have for staying focused on your revision?

Hannah Lane

Related posts:
How to cope with multiple deadlinesBest study snacks for a library sessionEssay editing checklist (& FREE printable)

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