Concentration can either make or break a study session. If you are focused and centered on the topic, chances are you will absorb, learn, and process the information effectively and efficiently. If, however, you are distracted, tired, bored, or upset, you may not retain any of the information you studied. Therefore, learning techniques to help you concentrate and recognizing what you can control while studying, may help you to reap all the benefits of studying.
Setting up a controlled environment is one technique to help improve your concentration. Studying should take place in quiet, climate-controlled areas with little or no distractions. Make sure there is enough lighting, turn off your cell phone, and perhaps even place a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door to the room. If you like background music, turn on a radio or CD, but make sure it is soft and not distracting. Before you begin, make sure you have all of the materials necessary to study, so that you do not have to break your concentration later to find a calculator or dictionary.
Studying the same study guide material for a long period of time can make you tired, bored, or frustrated. To avoid this, try to change both the material being studied and the method of studying at least once an hour. For example, if you have been reading a textbook for an hour, it may be helpful to move onto a writing assignment or a project for a while before forging ahead with the reading. It also may help your concentration to give yourself short breaks and rewards. Schedule a five minute walk at the end of each hour of studying. Stretch your legs, arms, back, and neck muscles every so often. And, when you have completed a task or studying session, reward yourself. Even though you may be studying in an environment conducive to learning, it is only natural that your mind may wander to thinking about other things. If you find yourself thinking about your date on Friday night or the amount of laundry waiting for you in the laundry room, you need to be able to bring yourself back to the moment and the task at hand. One way of doing this is by repeating to yourself, “Be here now.” This allows you to redirect your thoughts back to the present, and it helps you to regain your concentration.
Many times when people lose concentration during studying sessions, it is because they are worrying about something. If this happens to you frequently, you may want to set aside a time during the day, for fifteen minutes or a half hour, to think about things that may be troubling you. If you have twenty minutes set aside before dinner each night to process the things in your day that are causing anxiety, you can more easily redirect yourself at other times of the day when you begin worrying. You can tell yourself to “Be here now”, knowing that you have time set aside later to think about your problems.