Sustaining focus is critical for productive and quality work. Often we are unable to focus as we lack motivation or experience fatigue. Here are some ways to help you improve your focus so that you can accomplish more in less time.
Putting away distractions isn’t just about placing your phone far away from you or pulling the plug on your computer. We can still be distracted despite the absence of these physical objects. Mental clutter can similarly draw our attention away from the task at hand, but just attempting to dispel distracting thoughts is ineffective. One method to clear your head is to write those thoughts down and tackle them when you are free. Multi-tasking is also counterproductive. Rather than achieving more, you are toggling between tasks, not giving each one the attention it requires. It would probably be more efficient to handle them one at a time.
Keep yourself accountable
A key reason for lacking focus is a lack of self-discipline. It is easy to start slacking off when there’s no one to oversee you. You have to be accountable to yourself by keeping track of your progress. Try coming up with a to-do list containing specific and measurable tasks daily. As opposed to having a vague idea that you’d be ‘studying English’, jot down exactly what you hope to achieve: for example, ‘finish one English composition. In that way, you force yourself to get to work as there is a clear goal you have to meet by the end of the day. Nearing the exams, you may want to establish a study routine or schedule that you are committed to adhering. Your to-do list and schedule mustn’t be too ambitious, but one that you find acceptable, or you’re unlikely to take it seriously.
Breaks provide the motivation you need to stay focused. Studying the whole day sounds daunting, but studying for forty-five minutes with a short break after that doesn’t look too bad. Panicky students are often tempted to Chiong, going on frenzied study marathons that are neither efficient nor effective. The Pomodoro technique is a traditional method used widely where one splits his time into half-hour intervals (called Pomodoros). Devote 25 minutes to distraction-free work, followed by 5 minutes of complete rest, where you can watch a Youtube video, text friends or simply stare into space. Placing a time limit offers a sense of urgency that helps to heighten focus, and the 5-minute break is something that you can look forward to. For every few Pomodoros, take a power nap or exercise to rejuvenate your mind and body. If the austerity is killing you, permitting yourself a TV drama episode or two will not hurt.
Know your Habits
There isn’t a single perfect way to keep focus. Everyone has his or her idiosyncrasies and peculiar habits. Our energy levels fluctuate throughout the day. Your most productive time of the day may be in the late morning or after dinner. Many of us feel especially sleepy after lunchtime. You should assign more important and energy-consuming tasks to your most productive period. The place you study matters as well. Certain people require absolute silence to focus, while others find studying in the library suffocating and have to be plugged into their iPods. If you’re easily distracted, studying with friends may not be a good idea, although with the right company there is also mutual support.
Having real focus makes studying less of a drag, and gives you more time to do the things you love. Developing positive study habits is a gradual process, so you should start now.