How to concentrate on studies? You won't believe how many times that question comes up in conversations with students. Of course, if you are reading this, then, perhaps I am wrong about that. This is one of those complaints that students have because much of what they have to do seems boring to them. When bored, the ability to concentrate on studies is compromised. The X-Box is the siren that lures one away. In this post, I talk about two suggestions that may help you overcome that boredom resulting in successful study sessions,
Do What You Least Want to Do First
When I was a student I disliked math. Not that math itself wasn't interesting but it seemed that every year we did the same thing over again. Teachers called it review but that seemed to make little difference to me. I was quick to notice that in other subjects a review of the whole year before was not necessary. Just math and I hated that.
My dislike for review and the homework accompanying that review seemed to grow year in and year out. By the time I reached 8th grade, math was truly my greatest fear. I still remember in my freshman year in high school taking algebra, we had to graph quadratic equations. No matter how many times Mr. Bird (his real name) what quadratic equations were used for there was no answer forthcoming. I could do the work but I saw no purpose in it at all. I was bored.
The solution came one afternoon talking to my English teacher. She listened to my complaining, nodding her head in agreement from time to time. "Roger," she offered when I finally stopped for a breath, "why don't you do your math homework first? That way you'll get it out of the way. You'll be able to concentrate on the things you truly love to do."
I was amazed, stunned actually. Why had I not thought of that? I decided then and there to give it a whirl. I would try it for three weeks. If I found it to work then I'd keep doing it. Well, it worked. I knew after the first week that I was going to make this a life's habit. I still do the work I dislike first and then move on to the things that give me more pleasure.
Don't Try To Do Everything At One Sitting
During any given day you'll have so many hours of homework to do. Let's say you have four hours of study time to get everything done. Let's also say you have four subjects to study on any given day. Finally, let's say that, like me, you hate math and would do anything to rid yourself of that homework.
Research shows that studying in short bursts tends to respond to the question of how to concentrate on studies effectively. The idea is to set up your study time so that you are studying non-complementary subjects together. So let's say you have math homework, science homework, history and English homework. You should set up your study time to study math and either history or English in one study session. In your next session science and either history or English. It seems that the reason for this is that if you study related subjects requiring similar approaches you are more likely to suffer burn-out, making the problem worse.
Your study sessions should never be longer than two hours in length. Because studying requires intense concentration, it is too easy to become overwhelmed spending too much time at once. The two hours should be divided into two 50-minute time frames with a 10-minute break at the end. The break serves as a bookend, drawing a close to the session and supporting the learning that takes place. At the close of the break, you are ready to tackle a new subject with fresh eyes.
These two suggestions, doing what you dislike first and studying in short bursts, goes a long way to respond to the question, how to concentrate on studies. There is no doubt that these techniques work well for many students. What is a bit less clear is why they don't work for all students. Nowhere in the research on studying that I am aware of does it get into this question. Like all of the tips we suggest, because learning styles differ from student to student, not all things work for all students. The best idea is to try them out to see if they fit you. See if you need to make adjustments in the ideas or use them as we suggest. You won't know if you don't try.
A trial period is best if it is longer than you think necessary. I always suggest a three to four-week trial of a method that you decide to work on. Without that kind of time invested you'll not be certain if it is working or not. Giving yourself a chance is half the battle when it comes to how to concentrate on studies or in any other life adventure.