Tricks to improve your concentration

  • While reading: At the end of each page, stop and count to ten slowly.
  • Keep scrap paper handy. Write down anything that comes to mind while reading or studying, whether it be ideas about what you're studying, reminders of things you need to do, or other worries. Write it down, and set it aside.
  • When you study, study. When you worry, worry. Don't do both at the same time.
  • Pay attention to your attention. Move somewhere else, take a break, or change subjects when your attention wanes. Don't just keep slogging through.
  • Use your body:
  • Train your body:
    • Study and read in the same place each time. Don't do other things in your "study spot".
    • Study and read at the same time every day. Both this and your "study spot" help train your body to get in "studying mode".
    • Put on your thinking cap. Wear a certain hat (or other clothing item) when you want to study. It will again help train your body and people will be less likely to disturb you if they know that is your studying hat.

Do you get distracted or disturbed while studying? Optimize your study environment.

  • Minimize distractions.
  • A word or two on music: "If you like working to music, then work to music, and tell those who nag you critically about it to do something difficult and dangerous with their hair shirt. If, on the other hand, it is a distraction, then stop conning yourself and turn it off. Stick to your guns by all means, but only if they're shooting straight." -excerpted from Brain Train
  • Figure out where and how you work best: Under your desk, in the Cohen parking lot, on top of a bookshelf, walking through walls, in a tree, standing on your head, under water.... listening to Italian techno, Raffi, It's a small world after all ... eating escargot, brussels sprouts, parsley juice, eating sunflower oil with a spoon, dried daffodils, canned herring ...
  • Study where you won't get caught. Put a sign on your door while studying: "Rabid Raccoon Trapped in Room--DO NOT ENTER!!!"

Do you get sleepy studying, or do you quickly forget what you study? Pay attention to time.

  • Limit your time (15 to 50 minute bursts of studying or reading). Never read for longer than 30 minutes at a time. Taking five minute breaks after each 30 minutes of studying will help you come back to the next thirty minutes refreshed, and may also give your brain the chance to unconsciously process the information you just dealt with. You may come back to studying suddenly clearer on something you didn't understand before.
  • Take regular 3 to 15 minute breaks.
  • Study during your "Prime Time". Figure out when YOU are most alert and your brain is functioning best. This may be 4 to 7 AM, or 4 to 7 PM. Don't let college life deprive you of your optimal study time.

Do you know you should be able to concentrate better, but don't know how? Evaluate your concentration.

  • Keep a log for one week noting what time you spent studying. Write down the actual time spent, and the "effective" time spent--i.e., if you had been studying 100% effectively, how much time would what you covered have taken you?
    • Do this as a first month check-up, or when you notice that you just don't have any time anymore, or that you're wasting a lot of time
  • Before you start a task, write down when you expect to complete it. Keep a record of your estimates and the actual time it took.
  • What will this accomplish?
    • You will increase your study efficiency by giving yourself a goal of when to finish.
    • You will get a better feel for how long it takes you to accomplish tasks.

How to Stop Daydreaming

  • Consciously stop reading or studying and follow the daydreaming. It will likely go nowhere.
  • Stand up.