Keeping Focused

Ideal Study Area
  • Choose an area that is quiet and free from distractions.
    1. Use ear plugs or a headset to block out noise.
    2. Play soft classical music if you are distracted by silence.
    3. Use the TV for a reward for having studied, not for background noise.
  • Have two sources of lighting - one overhead and a desk lamp is ideal. Poor lighting causes your eyes to tire quickly.
  • Sit in a comfortable chair at a desk with enough space to spread out. Sitting on a couch or lying in your bed is not conducive to concentration.
  • Remove unrelated items from your study area.
Dealing with Distractors
  • Take charge. Accept responsibility for distractors and take charge of your situation. If the distraction is the phone, the TV, or and uncomfortable work space, take charge by moving to another location.
  • Say no. Say no to those who want to alter your study time. Inform them when you will be available.
  • No need. Train yourself to not look up when distracted with minor noises and movement. Force yourself to keep your eyes on your book by telling yourself, "There is no need to look."
  • Tick marks. Make a tick mark on a score card each time you lose concentration. Set a goal each time you study to reduce the number of tick marks.
  • To do list. If urgent tasks constantly resurface in you mind, write them on a list to do later so you no longer have to use mental energy to remember them.
  • Worry pad. Write down intrusive worries on a worry pad with the idea that you will attend to them as soon as you are finished studying. With your conscience clear and your worries recorded, you can get back to the business of concentration.
  • Mental rehearsal. Athletes use mental rehearsal to elevate their performance. Picture yourself beginning an assignment without effort, writing answers to a test with confidence, and using your entire study block without encountering distractions.
  • Positive self-talk. Positive self-talk statements express optimism, confidence, determination, and control. Positive self-talk has proved to increase levels of concentration and motivation, adjust a negative attitude, and reduce stress and procrastination.

A condition called Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) interferes with the ability to concentrate. ADD can be reliably diagnosed and treated. If you find that none of the above techniques help you take charge of your attention, contact the Office of Access and Learning Accommodation (OALA) @ 710-3605 for more information.

  • To maintain focus while studying, take a 10 minute break every 45 or 50 minutes.
  • Choose one quiet study place free from distractions and stick with it.
  • Keep study materials, such as note cards, highlighters, pens, and calculators in your backpack so they are always available for study times.
  • Develop a study ritual to use each time you study. For example, take several deep breaths before you begin.
  • Ten minutes of studying in a quiet place is equal to one hour studying in front of the TV.