There are countless situations where we are required to study. While you’re in education for instance whether it’s school or college you will be required to study most nights of the week to recap what you learned in class and to go into particular detail during the build up to exams and tests – often trying to ‘cram’ a year’s worth of work into five hours before the exam.
Then there are the situations outside of education – when you need to study for an interview to make sure you know everything about the company and the industry and to make sure you look like it’s always been your life’s passion to work for that company as a result. Or there are the time’s we need to study for an examination at work and a promotion is on the line, or when we need to study for a presentation or an assessment. It seems that we’re never free of studying and that we are doomed to spend a good portion of our evenings and days revising and researching for the rest of our lives…
And for many people this is a problem because we plain just don’t want to revise. It’s not fun to read and try to memorize subjects that we’ve previously learned (as we are usually required to revise), you can’t have the television on when you do it, and it’s very hard not to be distracted by all the other things you want to do/could be doing. Many of us simply can’t revise without being distracted by these things and that leaves us unable to efficiently learn what we need for exams, tests, interviews, assignments, presentations and everything else. This then means that these are all areas of life where we won’t excel as much as we should, and it also means that we end up ironically actually spending more time revising because we don’t learn as quickly due to all the distractions. If only you could focus on what it is that you’re meant to be learning, then you would be able to absorb quantities of information more quickly and efficiently, and would have more time to relax and enjoy yourself and do better in all your tests and all those important moments.
Here then we will look at how to eradicate distractions when revising and how to make sure that your focus stays firmly on your revision so that you learn faster and better. Follow the suggestions below and see your productivity when revising go up…
Avoid the Internet
The internet is one of the biggest distractions there is. With the internet you unfortunately have almost all the world’s writing, videos and music just a click away, as well as all your friends and family to stalk and message. The worst part of it is that you can easily justify your internet use to yourself – ‘I’ll just check my e-mail’ you’ll think, and next thing you know you’re looking at ‘the world’s angriest cat’ on YouTube. If you really want to be free of distractions then you should unplug the internet and tell yourself that you won’t have it on again until you have achieved a certain amount of revision. This will help you initially to get a lot more work done, but if you’re tempted to plug it back in early then make sure you can’t by going out and taking your laptop or folder of notes to a coffee shop with you somewhere.
If you really can’t make yourself internet free because you need it, then just make rules – for instance you can only check your e-mails for five minutes once an hour.
Tidy Your Room
That is, tidy your room the day before you start revising. It’s something that many students note – the minute they need to revise for an exam their rooms become tidier than ever. Tidying isn’t fun by any means, but any of us will agree that it is more fun than revising. At the same time having things in your way and having a cluttered ‘visual space’ does make it harder concentrate. So make this a task that you do before you start and then don’t waste time with later.
Make it Comfortable
If you are comfortable and relaxed this will help you to fidget less and look around for distractions less. So sit yourself in a nice chair in a nicely tidied room, have a cup of tea, and set the lighting low so that you feel relaxed and calm.
Put on Some Music
If you put on music with lyrics then you will find that you spend your time distracted by that and unable to concentrate. However choose music that has no lyrics and is just instrumental and this will have a rather positive impact on your learning as it can distract the creative side of your brain while allowing the more logical aspects the opportunity to work. In other words you won’t be in a completely silent and dull environment which can make you quickly bored, and you’ll have something in the background to keep your interest.
No one has the ability to focus for hours straight without any kind of break or activity and if you’ve been revising for hours then you’ll find that you start to lose concentration toward the end. To counteract this, make sure that you take lots of breaks from time to time and this will help you to stay focused when you are working. This is particularly important if you are working from a computer as looking at a screen for long periods of time can otherwise cause you to get eye strain and a bad back from holding the same posture for so long. Roughly every hour go and make yourself a cup of tea or take a walk around your area – but keep it short and make sure you don’t do anything too interesting that will suck you in and prevent you from going back to your work.
Your brain like the rest of your body runs on ATP which comes from glucose. In fact your brain uses up more energy than most of the rest of your body, and if you are thinking hard and focusing for long periods of time then you’re going to need some fuel to keep you going. Eat some complex carbs then that will gradually release energy throughout the day and be sure to eat lots of vitamins and minerals too. Finally things like fatty acids (such as those found in fish) can help to improve neurotransmission and so improve brain function – so just make sure to be well nourished and to eat a balanced diet before you start to work.
Set Rewards and Targets
Setting rewards is a good way to help yourself to focus. Focusing indefinitely is almost impossible as you will not see any light at the end of the tunnel; however knowing that you have a finite end in sight makes it a lot easier to bear. At the same time it is psychologically very hard to let yourself fail a challenge – once you’ve set that goal then you won’t want to ‘fail’ by not being able to complete it and this is a great motivator. Setting rewards at the end of the process makes this even sweeter as it gives you something to work toward and in fact the faster you work and the more you focus the sooner you will get what you want to do.
Change the Way You Revise
If you really can’t focus on your revision then perhaps you’re not making it very interesting. While revising is very rarely enjoyable, you can certainly make it more interesting and more involved so that you are more engaged by it. The worst way to revise is to just have a piece of information in front of you and to sit there staring at it – this is not engaging and particularly if the information is not fascinating in itself. Other ways to make the work more interesting are to test yourself on it, to write it out in essay format, to make a website on it, to write a story about it or to do other things that involve you creatively or that have some way of measuring your success. One great way to revise is to look on YouTube and see if you can find a video teaching whatever it is you want to learn. This will be easier to focus on than a static piece of paper and it means you know exactly how long it’s going to take as well. By making your revision more interesting, you’ll find that you don’t dread it as much and that it holds your attention – and if you do make a website or a book out of it then you might even be able to sell it or make money from it other ways later on.
Revise More Subtly
You also shouldn’t be thinking of revising as something you do for a while then stop – there are lots of ways you can revise throughout the day and these will help you to stay in the ‘zone’. Try writing revision on the outside of the glass on your shower, or on the mirror over the sink. Likewise try changing the background of your phone to a list of key things to remember, and leave notes for yourself in the kitchen and on the tea pot. This way even when you are procrastinating and doing other things you’ll still be taking in the information – by osmosis if nothing else.