When studying at university you will need to be able stay focused and concentrate on particular tasks. This applies whether you are reading for essays, revising for exams or grappling with a problem sheet. Developing your ability to concentrate is, therefore, key to success in your studies. You will need to become single-minded and able to focus your full attention on one topic or task while shutting out all other thoughts and distractions.
Easier said than done! Mental and physical distractions are barriers to concentration. Tiredness, anxiety, poor working environments are among the things that may stop you from settling down to a task or cause you to lose focus.
The tabs of this guide will support you in staying focused while studying. The sections are organised as follows:
Your ability to concentrate will vary depending on how interested you are in the topic or task and how long you have been working on it. Some topics will absorb you completely and you will not notice time passing, with other tasks time may seem to drag. Developing your concentration skills will help, particularly with focusing on less interesting tasks, and here are some ways you can do this.
A range of factors may be affecting your ability to concentrate and recognising what they are is the first step to dealing with them. We are all different and some things that bother one person may not affect another. Something that disturbs your concentration on one task may have no impact on a different one. Here are things you may experience – some to do with your environment (external) and others relate to you personally (internal).
Noisy room or house? For peace and quiet try the library – Hartley is open late and there is a safety bus to get you home
Switch off your phone – yes really!
|Plan this||Think about this|
Stockpile nutritious snacks to feed your brain and body – being hungry can be very distracting.
Know when to stop – be smart about what to do when you can no longer ignore distractions.
Consider installing a website blocker if you are frequently distracted by visiting sites not relevant to the work you are doing. There are plenty available both for mobile and desktop devices
You may not always find it easy to concentrate but building good study habits and routines will help. Looking after yourself physically and mentally are both important, as is knowing when to stop studying for a while and take a break.
Look at the following checklist to see if you have given yourself the best possible chance of success.
|I have planned my work for the day/week, setting clear, achievable goals.||✓|
|I have planned breaks and rewards to keep me focused and improve motivation.||✓|
|I have selected a study environment which is suitable for the work I want to do.||✓|
|I have allocated time for other tasks which might otherwise distract me.||✓|
|I am dealing with worries or anxieties so I have a clear head for studying.||✓|
|I have all the materials I need for this study session, including snacks and drinks to keep me going.||✓|