Maintaining focus and concentration while studying is crucial. When your mind starts to wander, or you find yourself paying attention to everything but the task at hand, you've got a problem. Wondering how to stay focused while studying is only made worse when you realize you can't recall the most basic facts about the topic you're studying!
You can adopt several strategies to boost your focus and concentration levels. Here are some of the best ways to stay focused while studying.
1. Distraction-free Study Space
One of the most effective ways to stay focused while studying is creating your own workspace at home or in school, preferably somewhere that isn't your desk (where you do other things). A cluttered desk, full of interesting things, is a distraction and will make it difficult for you to concentrate on the task at hand. (1)
If possible, try to create a study space free of distractions such as the radio or television playing in the background. Consider using earplugs if your roommates are not studying. When you block out what other people around you are doing, you are less likely to get distracted.
2. Schedule your time wisely
Another great way to stay focused while studying is scheduling your study sessions at specific times, rather than just whenever you feel like it. (2) You should set aside a specific amount of time for each subject every day and try not to deviate from this schedule as often as possible. Planning will allow you to decide how many hours you need to study and how much time for breaks, which brings us to our next point. Additional techniques like the Pomodoro technique help explain how to schedule your time in intervals and chunk together concepts.
3. Take regular breaks
There is a tendency to want to sit in the same place and pour over books for hours without taking a study break. However, this can be counterproductive as your mind needs time away from a subject to recuperate and concentrate properly after a certain amount of time. To stay focused while studying, try taking short breaks every hour or so. (3,4). This can also help you make sure you remember the content that you're studying.
4. Don't study straight through the night
We have all been subject to procrastination, and it can be tempting to make up for it with an all-night study session. It can be tempting to pull an all-nighter before your study session, but this habit is not good for you in the long term. Not only will you be too tired to properly digest what you're learning, but you won't be in a good state during the test itself. In addition, when you try to do this, you'll probably drink lots of coffee. Your body needs sleep to function properly, and even though caffeine can be a good stimulant, it will not help you stay awake if you are exhausted. (5)
Trying to push through when your body has nothing left to give is a sure way to lose focus.
5. Read something else for thirty minutes before starting your studying session
This tip on how to stay focused while studying is an old one that has circulated college campuses for years, and it's effective because it clears your mind of everything you've been doing before the session.
Reading will 'reset' your brain and make it easier to concentrate on studying later. Read something totally unrelated to the subject that keeps you entertained and gives your mind a break.
6. Turn your phone off during your study sessions
It can be tempting to make one quick call, send one last text, or do the last socila media scroll. However, resist the urge to do this, as you will get distracted and pulled into a conversation or Instagram scroll. You'll suddenly become aware of how much time has passed and make it hard to hit your study goal.
7. Play music
The TV or radio playing in the background can be a major distraction as you'll catch snippets of conversation from shows, commercials, or even the DJ. However, listening to music alone can often help you focus on your studies.
Music without lyrics is the best choice, and classical music has been shown to boost concentration levels temporarily. (6) Additionally, music with embedded binaural beats can be used to get your brain functioning at a higher level, but people have mixed experiences with their effectiveness. (7)
8. Stay hydrated
One of the more important steps to remain focused while studying is staying hydrated. While you may think this has nothing to do with staying focused, it's vital in your ability to concentrate. (8)
Dehydration causes headaches which can zap your brainpower and make it difficult to stay focused. It's also been shown that dehydration can affect brain performance, which you'll want to avoid. (9)
9. Feed your body and brain
Aside from staying hydrated, nothing boosts your ability to focus more than eating a healthy diet. You know that carbs can give you energy, protein is great for building muscle, and so on - but it's the vitamins and micronutrients that help you maintain focus.
Unfortunately, we often don't find the time to eat properly in our busy lives. By giving your body the nutrition it needs, you can immediately enhance and maintain your brainpower. (10)
Healthycell Focus + Recall is a supplement designed to help support longer concentration and mental speed, rapid learning and alertness. Containing natural cognitive boosters known as nootropics, Focus + Recall supports several ways to get the best out of your brain.
Optimal brain function requires good blood flow and brain cell oxidation alongside fuel to keep your mind running at full speed. Focus + Recall includes ingredients known to increase blood flow to the brain, protect brain cells from damaging antioxidants, and support glucose and ketone conversion, which provides the right support to fuel your brain.
Other ingredients support phospholipids (vital to the brain's structure). Research has shown phospholipids enhance retention and recall, and provide a sharp memory. (11) With science-backed nutrients that support neurotransmitters - the body's highly active messengers that maintain laser focus for extended periods.
Focus + Recall is supplied in individual packs of our next-generation MICROGEL™ delivery system to ensure full absorption and effective use of the ingredients. You can take them straight from the pack or mix them with water or smoothies to make a delicious drink. There are no worries about taking pills, and the nutrients immediately get to work as your body can absorb them from the gel very easily.
10. Take a different route to class
Another way to stay focused while studying is trying not to take the same path every day when you go from one part of campus to another. You may think this is unimportant, but taking a different path helps you focus more.
Changing how you get from A to B will force your mind to stop what it's doing and concentrate on getting there successfully. Every time you take a new route, you'll be forced to pull out mental maps or GPS systems that you've made in your memory, which will then help strengthen how you remember how to get around.
The more times you take the same route, the less mental effort it takes each time, and eventually, you'll stop using those maps or systems altogether. If this happens, when you try to walk a different way one day, you won't easily be able to remember how to get where you want to go!
It works the same way for studying, too. Repetition is great for building long-term memories, but the more times you do the same thing repeatedly, the less mental effort each time takes. (12) Eventually, your brain becomes accustomed to putting in the minimum effort.
By forcing yourself to take a different route, you'll train your mind to work and focus, perfect for improving your studying performance.
11. Meditation and mindfulness
Finally, if you're still wondering how to stay focused while studying, try to incorporate meditation into your daily routine. If you're not used to meditating or finding it hard, the best place to start is breathing exercises.
You can start easily, even if it's only five minutes you put aside first. You may find it difficult to sit for this long without getting distracted, but the more you practice meditation, the easier it becomes. Therefore the easier it becomes to focus on any task you are trying to concentrate on.
You can use a series of deep breaths to achieve this state of peace. Start by breathing deeply through your nose and hold it for a few seconds before exhaling slowly through your mouth. Concentrate on how your belly rises with the inhale and falls with the exhale.
If you get distracted or think about something else, don't worry - it happens to all of us! Just notice what has caught your attention when this happens and let it go. Then repeat the deep breaths.
It takes time to get to the point where you can successfully meditate, so practice daily. You'll soon find it much easier to achieve relaxation and peace in your mind.
You can even take a few moments to do this while studying, enhancing your ability to concentrate when you need it most. (13)
If you've skipped ahead and have only started reading here, you certainly need to improve your ability to stay focused! Stay hydrated, eat well, ensure your nutrition is on point and optimised for your brain, and get enough sleep (don't pull all-nighters). Find your perfect study spot, take breaks, and lose the distractions.
Stick to your schedule, turn off your TV, and try to incorporate meditation into your daily routine. This is how to stay focused while studying.