How to concentrate better on my studies?

A girl student finding it hard to concentrate on her studies

Are you finding it hard to concentrating on your studies? Is this affecting your grades?"

Do not feel dejected, there are a few things you can do in order to improve on your studies.

Indeed this will require some level of commitment and discipline on your part, but it is within your reach. Here are some ideas to help you:

1. Be motivated


It is important to cultivate an interest in what you are learning. If you have made up your mind that math is boring or that physics is hard, you’ll have a hard time concentrating.

Your studies will be a lot more interesting, though, if you remind yourself of how you can benefit from the information.

These sentiments are echoed by Leonardo DA Vinci renowned for his paintings when he said:

  study without desire spoils the memory, and it retains nothing that it takes in."

There is no doubt that Leonardo had passion in learning the skills needed to propel him to produce iconic paintings like the ‘the Mona Lisa’ and ‘last supper’.

But you may wonder how can I get motivated to study? Think about someone who plays a musical instrument. If he enjoys it, he plays more.

The more he plays, the better he gets, which in turn increases his joy. Hence, the more you devote to your studies, the easier it will be to study even more.

2. Learn to control your thoughts


 Imagine this:

The last thing you remember was the sound of your teacher droning on about algebraic equations, but you are no longer in the classroom; your mind has drifted to the beach your family visited last summer. You can feel the hot sand and the warm sun. You can hear the sound of the waves crashing on the shore, the sound of children playing, the sound. . . of giggling classmates?  Yes, your pleasant reverie has dissolved and in its place stands an irritated teacher, hand on hip, demanding the answer to a question that you did not hear." 

Has this ever happened to you?

While daydreaming may be fine when you are on vacation, there are occasions when it can be dangerous as the above example illustrates. 

You need to learn to control your thoughts. How?

Elizabeth Gilbert recommends in her book Eat, Pray, Love:

You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That's the only thing you should be trying to control" 
Because if you daydream, you will be like a car which is driving aimlessly, wasting fuel and getting nowhere. 

So, what is important to you now is to concentrate on your studies, which will make your dreams more of a reality than a figment of your imagination.

3. Take notes


Taking notes is another aid to better concentration. Note-taking can speed up your understanding and help you to recall information.

Notes need not be entire sentences but should be key words or phrases that help you recall the main ideas. This surely will have an impact on your studies now, but will also prove useful in your future career.

For example, successful journalist, writers and song writers use notes to help them remember and concentrate on issues they want to write or sing about.

This can slowly develop into a good habit as the writer Niyi Osundare acknowledges:

One hasn't become a writer until one has distilled writing into a habit, and that habit has been forced into an obsession. Writing has to be an obsession. It has to be something as organic, physiological and psychological as speaking or sleeping or eating."

4. Review material again and again


How does rereading material help you concentrate on your studies? Cornelia Funke, in her book Ink spell gives this insight:

Isn't it odd how much fatter a book gets when you've read it several times...As if something were left between the pages every time you read it. Feelings, thoughts, sounds, smells...and then, when you look at the book again many years later, you find yourself there, too, a slightly younger self, slightly different, as if the book had preserved you like a pressed flower...both strange and familiar."

Yes, the more you review the material again, the more you get the urge to find the details you left out. It is more like a treasure hunt.

This will turn your reading experience into an adventure and unconsciously your concentration levels will improve dramatically, to match your new found interest to learn new things.

5. Get adequate sleep


Research shows that sleep deprivation often makes a person become sleepy and quiet.

As a result one lacks the ability to concentrate, pay attention, retain what they learn, and solve problems.

In fact the Veja magazine reported that:

People behind on sleep can walk, hear, and see like everyone else. However, research shows that the ability to reason, the power to make decisions and to remain alert are weakened." 

Hence, ensure you get enough sleep daily to avoid increasing your sleep debt as this will be detrimental to your health and your studies as well.

6. Take breaks


Studying behind a desk for long periods can be mentally and emotionally exhausting, and can lead to fatigue.

However, taking breaks and doing some physical exercise can refresh one and invigorate one for another study session.

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