Focus is the key to getting things done quickly, thoroughly, and efficiently…but it’s just so hard to maintain! Mastering your focus can help you stop procrastinating and finish your work faster and better than ever before.
Unfortunately, mastering your focus is something that often takes a lifetime of effort…Well, most of us don’t have a lifetime (or even a day) to finish our (most likely procrastinated) work. So, while you won’t ever be able to have 100% control over your focus, you can definitely learn how to work around pesky attention spans to get your work done.
Follow these tips for the next time you have to get down to business.
1) Get rid of the distractions
The most obvious step? Get rid of all those pesky distractions! Turn off your phone. Shut your door. Tell your friends not to chat you up for “x” amount of time.
Don’t wander into the dark abyss of the internet. If you do have to use the internet for certain parts of your studying, lump all of those parts towards the end of your study session. Create a checklist on what exactly you need to look up on the internet and cross off each task as you go. This will help prevent you from time-consuming social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
In any case, don’t become this guy.
2) Create a reward system
Positive reinforcement, yeah! Set a solid reward for every landmark that you make while studying. For example, after every two pages read, treat yourself to a chocolate! If you can’t trust yourself not to cheat, ask a family member to withhold all the delicious chocolatey goodies in the house. Or, if you want to avoid gaining five pounds, snack on something healthy AND delicious instead like….like…uh…I’m not the best person to turn to on these kinds of decisions…
3) Study well-rested
Pretty self-explanatory. No use studying while you’re still half-asleep! Not only will you be a lot less productive, but you’ll remember less and you’ll get distracted more!
If you’re feeling a bit tired, get up and move around a bit…or take a short nap. In any case, you’ll be so much more efficient with an rested, alert head on your shoulders, no matter how pressed for time you are.
4) Create a punishment system
IT’S NOT AS BAD AS IT SOUNDS.
For those of you who don’t respond as well to positive reinforcement…negative reinforcement could work for you, too! Seriously, it’s not terrifying and can actually be pretty useful–though it should probably be used for more desperate situations.
If you’re really attached to your money, perhaps sacrifice a certain amount of money to be at stake. Have a trusted family member check up on you every hour or so. If they see that certain tasks have not been completed, have them take a certain amount of the money. Again, this sounds a bit extreme, but if you’re the type that will only work when something you care about is at risk, this could be effective. (God, that sounded so creepy.)
The “money” could be swapped out for candy or dish-washing duty or anything else that matters to you. (Just as long as you aren’t trading siblings!)
5) Study with an timer
Hey, this one actually works pretty well! If you’re crunched for time and have to plow through some mandatory reading, keep a timer going. If you’re reading a textbook, for example, challenge yourself to finish each page within 2-3 minutes. That’s 50 pages in less than 2 hours. Keep a timer to stay on track. The app Seconds is perfect for this–you can set it so that it counts down from 2 minutes…the added pressure of seeing the time slip away will pressure you to stay focused.
6) Take short breaks
Everyone needs to relax occasionally!
And that doesn’t just apply to kitties getting a shoulder rub! When you’re studying, don’t tire yourself out. Take short breaks for a more effective study session. The Pomodoro Technique–where you work in 25-minute chunks, followed by 5-minute breaks (and 15-minute breaks every hour)–is especially effective.
A warning, however: don’t take so many breaks that you lose focus. Keep your breaks short and sweet. If you over-use them, you can quickly slide into procrastination.
You’re not completely at the mercy of your attention span! When you employ these tips, you can get done studying quickly and way more effectively.
So, get going!
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About Maddi Lee
Maddi is currently a high school junior in southern California. She is an avid freelance writer and has been featured in multiple literary publications and anthologies. When she isn't writing, she loves traveling, doodling, and most of all, sleeping. Through her own experience and passion, she hopes to help guide fellow students through the roller coaster that is SAT and college admissions...that is, as long as she survives the journey herself!
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