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Concentration

It's not easy to concentrate in this world of constant distractions, and a lack of concentration can destroy your ability to study or work effectively. People who can concentrate and focus will do better in education, work, and life. You might think they're skilled, talented or lucky, but we can all learn to concentrate. Key tips to improve your concentration are:

Find the purpose in your work

It's hard to focus when you simply don't care. If you're doing a boring or frustrating task, look for the reason why. If you are studying for an exam, you might not exactly be thrilled with the topic, but you know that if you pass your exam, you'll be a step closer to your goal, which could be getting into a great university or getting a better paid job.

When you have a purpose in mind, you'll be motivated to do the work. And when you're motivated, it's much easier to concentrate.

Plan before you start

Before you begin studying, take a few minutes to summarise a few objectives, gather what you will need, and think of a general strategy of accomplishment. What will you need to do first? Are you missing any pieces of information? Who can help show you what to do?

If you have a plan, it's easy to keep moving forwards. You won't suddenly stop and wonder what to do next (which kills concentration – it's all too easy to open up your email, or start browsing the net).

Have a study space

Get a dedicated space, chair, table, lighting and environment. Avoid your mobile or telephone and put up a sign to avoid being disturbed or interrupted.

Turn off your Internet connection

This is a really simple trick – but do you ever do it? It's so easy to jump on Twitter or Facebook, click on a link, and end up spending ten minutes totally off-task. Every time you switch away from your work, it takes time to get back into it again. You might lose the thread of your thoughts, or start to lose interest. By turning off your internet connection, you remove a load of potential distractions. Just one hour each day without being plugged in can make a huge difference to your study. Unitasking is so much more efficient than multitasking.

Stick to an efficient study schedule

Accommodate your day/night energy levels. When is your energy level at its highest? When are your low energy times? Study your most difficult courses at your high energy times. Sharpest early in the evening? Study your most difficult course then. Later in the evening? Work on your easier courses or the ones you enjoy the most.

Take regular breaks

You might think that the best way to concentrate is to sit at your desk, stare grimly at your lessons and try to force yourself to work for hours at a time. It's actually much more effective to work for short periods and then take breaks. If you're really focusing, you can't easily concentrate for more than about 45 minutes at a time. After that, you need to take a break to let your brain recharge.

Plus, if you know that you've got a scheduled break coming up, it's easier to stay on task. Instead of trying to work for three hours and getting distracted every ten minutes, you can tell yourself you just need to concentrate for half an hour.

Eat enough, but not too much

If you're distracted by a growling stomach, you'll struggle to focus. Your attention levels drop when your blood sugar is low, and you'll probably find yourself in a bad mood, too. Don't compensate by scoffing a huge lunch because a big meal mid-day will make you sleepy and lethargic, killing your concentration. Instead, space out your eating more evenly.

Slow Down

One major secret to great concentration is to slow down. If you live life in a rush, dashing from one thing to the next, it's no surprise that you find yourself frazzled and unable to focus. When you're in a hurry, you make mistakes much more easily – which results in wasted time while you put things right.

Slowing down lets you become more efficient. You'll be able to focus–instead of rushing forwards manically–and you'll find that you actually get more done.

Reward yourself!

Reward yourself for successfully completing a task—call a friend, enjoy a food treat, take a walk, etc. For special projects such as term papers, major projects, long book reviews, set up a special reward.


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