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Techniques for Concentrating and Focusing

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 11 Jul 2010 | comments*Discuss
Concentrating Focusing Focus Studying

Jane Austen. Emma. Emma Bunton. Spice Girls. Music. MTV. If your mind wanders like this when you are attempting to concentrate and focus then you could probably use a little refresher course on staying attentive. Inattention to your work, wandering thoughts, daydreams and distractions all serve to pollute your study time and make your assignments drag out much longer than they should. Banish your meandering musings and you could reclaim hours for yourself, not to mention raise your marks and catapult yourself into the career of your dreams. What’s not to love? Try out these techniques for concentrating and focusing now and there’ll be plenty of time for turning on MTV later.

You Are What You Eat

No this is not an invitation to watch Gillian McKeith! Many scientists believe that your ability to concentrate and focus is directly linked to your stomach, and not just because a grumbling tummy is an age old distraction. While no magic bullet exists, a healthy diet will give you the energy you need to hit the books and sail through your assignments. Avoid processed foods, junk food and fizzy drinks as these often contain excess sugar, salt and caffeine that can lead you directly to a slump. Instead, fill up before studying by loading your plate with:
  • Complex carbohydrates that will give you energy for the long haul. Think whole wheat toast, multigrain bagels, and mixed grain cereals.
  • Fruits and veggies that will give you some natural sweetness and satisfy your cravings.
  • Proteins for some added pep. Try out some egg whites, grilled chicken breasts or fish.
  • Water. Complement your meal with a big glass of water to keep your cells hydrated and your mind alert.

Think Short, Go Long

No one can study for hours at a time. In fact, experts agree that studying in 30 to 45 minute spurts is the best option. These increments allow you enough time to get stuck into your work and learn something new, but don’t provide enough time for you to get bored or for your mind to wander. Find out what works for you by bringing along a stop watch. Study for 20 minutes, then 30 minutes, then 45. Give yourself a nice 15 minute break in between so that you can rest and recharge for the next go. Consider using your break to:
  • Fix a small, healthy snack.
  • Refilling your water glasses and adding a slice of lemon for some zing.
  • Checking email, since you won’t be doing this while you are working.
  • Engaging in a small, energising yoga routine.
  • Getting outside for a brisk walk and some fresh air.

Just One More

If you know that you can work for 45 minutes but you still find yourself getting antsy after just 20, promise yourself that you will do just one more thing. Finish one more problem, write one more page or read one more chapter. This will keep you from watching the clock while at the same time giving you a manageable goal. Just make sure that you follow through on whatever you bargained, and start your 15 minute break when you finish as opposed to adding on extra break time.

With a nice full belly, plenty of energy, manageable goals and a few emergency bargaining chips you should be well equipped to sit down, study hard and move on to bigger and better things. Concentrating and focusing are skills that require plenty of practice to make perfect, but the more you practice the better you’ll get. Good luck!

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