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How to Stay Focused While Studying

by Jasmine Wu & Ann Zhang

Now that we might need to return to Zoom School, it’s more important than ever that we are able to learn on our own and maintain our focus while studying. Therefore, I thought that it might be useful to compile a list of strategies to help you do just that.

Remove distractions

The first thing you should do before you study is to remove all distractions. Turn off all notifications on your phone, or leave it in a different room. Studies show that once you become distracted by notifications, it takes an average of 23 minutes to return back to what you were doing.

Try to also find the right location for studying. The level of white noise needed depends person-to-person, so you might enjoy studying in your room, while others like the noise level in a coffee shop or library. Your study space should also meet these simple requirements:

  • You should have a flat, clean surface that is large enough to hold your study materials.
  • If you need electricity, you should have an outlet nearby to charge your devices.
  • You should also be comfortable! It’s best to sit straight in a comfortable chair or stand at an ergonomic desk.

Create a routine!

When you’re studying large amounts of information for a competition or a class, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and discouraged. Therefore, you should break up your study time into smaller chunks, and write them down in your schedule. Try to stick to these commitments.

Studying in smaller increments is shown to increase the retention of information in the long-term. Although you may feel confident by cramming the day before the test, studying gradually over time will ensure that you still know the material the next week. Think about how much time you will save in the long run by not having to review old materials.

You should also have a routine to help you focus before you actually start studying. This will help you find your focus and prepare you for what you’re about to do. You can clear your desk, close your door, grab the necessary study materials, play some music, or create a to-do list of what you want to accomplish that day. Like creating a night-time routine, this series of actions will help prepare your brain to stay focused.

Stay healthy

Above all, it’s important to stay healthy! Staying healthy mentally means remembering why you’re studying in the first place. Don’t focus on the grades and forget that you’re learning new skills and information. If you are just chasing a percentage or letter, you will be less motivated to study, and you may lose focus of what you actually what to do with this information. Doing this will also help decrease the intense pressure to achieve a certain GPA and help keep you focused.

It’s also important for your mental and physical health to make sure you take breaks in between studying. Your self-control and motivation can only last so long, and when they run out you need to take time to recharge them. Try to take small breaks in between your studying, hang out with friends, or drink a cup of tea. Having a small reward, like a cookie, after each study session can also help keep you motivated.

Lastly, please exercise and sleep well! Exercise keeps you alert, improves your focus for up to three hours, and makes you happier and more energetic. Exercise will also help decrease some of your anxiety and stress that may come with studying, and in the long term, reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s. Try to exercise half an hour every day, or 150 minutes in a week.

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