College is an exciting time for many students, making friends, socialising and getting involved in new activities and sports, however, with all this new excitement it is important that students keep on top of their college work. Staying focused in college can become difficult when you take into account classes, work, student organisations and communities, along with the numerous events that can be going on all at once.
For students, college can make many demanding requests leaving students feeling overwhelmed and unable to focus clearly.
When you are not able to focus clearly, your ability to learn will be negatively impacted and can lead to students forgetting important assignments that may be due. In addition, when your attention is jeopardised your grades will suffer. To prevent this from happening it is important to try to identify the reasons for the lack of focus and the distractions that may be preventing you from concentrating properly.
When you have found the cause or source of your distraction, you must find a way to address the issue so that you can work more efficiently and effectively at your studies.
To help you achieve this, we have compiled a list of great tips for staying focused in college.
1) Develop a Routine
Routines are a great way to help you stay focused in college. Develop a routine for when you are going to study, or do certain course work and activities. This make takes some tweaking till you devise a routine that works for you. When you find the time of day that you are naturally full of energy you will have a much greater chance of staying focused and avoiding distractions.
Find out when you concentrate best, you may find it easier to do certain subjects on certain days or even in certain places, such as your college library or maybe on a Saturday afternoon because your house is empty.
By establishing what works for you and when and where you focus the best this will enable you to create your schedule accordingly, ultimately allowing you to be at your most productive.
2) Get a Good Nights Sleep
Good sleeping habits can be quite difficult to maintain when in college, but it is essential to get a good nights sleep in order to stay focused. Failing to get a sufficient amount of sleep each night, will leave you feeling unmotivated and affect your productivity.
Where possible you should try to establish a good bedtime routine and aim to stick to it as much as possible. Set an hour that you go to bed at every night that allows you to get at least seven to nine hours sleep, and try stick to the same time each night.
3) Avoid Multitasking
When you try to multitask, you are bombarding your brain with loads of information that it has to try and process. Often meaning that you move forwards and backwards, not making any great progress. As a result, multitasking actually becomes the enemy of focus rather than a way of getting through the huge workload you have as a student.
When you focus on one task at a time, your efficiency increases allowing you to effectively complete the task at hand and then move on to the next. While multitasking may appear to be more appealing, most of the time those tasks are not performed efficiently. Switching between tasks can be counter-productive and can actually make you feeling overwhelmed and stressed.
To get the best results, focus on one task at a time. Don’t focus on anything else until you have this task completed and then move on to the next.
4) Eat Healthy Foods
The importance of eating a healthy diet in college often goes out the window with students. Not only is eating healthy good for you but eating the right foods will actually help improve your concentration levels and focus.
You should aim to begin your day with a healthy nutritious breakfast. Eating a good meal in the morning will go a long way to fuelling you for the day that lays ahead. A simple slice of toast and glass of juice, for example, will leave you feeling more energised and boost your concentration for your classes.
Be sure to include healthy brain foods in your diet. These include items such as berries, nuts, green leafy vegetables, avocado, beets, dark chocolate, lentils, salmon, grapefruit, chickpeas and kidney beans. Bring healthy snacks to college with you so that you can snack on these if and when you’re feeling hungry. It is also very important to stay hydrated so carry a bottle of water with you. Being dehydrated can negatively affect your ability to concentrate.
Avoid eating high amounts of refined sugar as it will provide you with a temporary mental boost but your blood sugars and concentration levels will go up and down, ultimately reducing your productivity.
5) Reduce Distractions
Distractions are all around us and can pose a major challenge when you’re trying to focus and study. In order to enhance your productivity, you must try to eliminate or reduce these potential distractions.
When you go to class, for example, try to sit at the top of the class, ask questions, take notes and get involved. These can be a very effective ways to help you stay focused during class and avoid being the distracted. Unfortunately, our friends can often pose a distraction during class, especially when they are engaged in the events of the night before.
To avoid being distracted by your friends during class, try to sit elsewhere. Where this is not possible or you don’t want to offend your friends, tell them that you really need to concentrate in class. Your friends should respect your choice and your desire to learn.
When you’re trying to study and get your coursework done, find somewhere that is free from distractions. Turn off all forms of social media, TV, radio and your phone. Identify what is likely to pose a distraction for you and come up with a way to eliminate it. By doing this you will be able to improve both your attention and ability to focus, ultimately allowing you to get your work done more effectively.
If studying in silence doesn’t work so well for you, try listening to some ambient music. There are plenty of study music playlists on YouTube that can help you concentrate and study more effectively.
6) Set Yourself Goals
Realistic goal setting can really help you to stay focused and get your work done. College can be overwhelming, especially when you have a lot of classes and subjects that all have their own workload and projects due. These are in addition to all the other activities that you may have going on in your own life at the same time.
The best way to get through this and avoid becoming consumed and overwhelmed with the sheer amount of work is to set yourself study goals. These should be based on what is the most important thing to do in this moment. By working through your workload in this way you will become more efficient and productive.
Begin with looking at what coursework or assignments are due first. You can only effectively focus on one thing at a time, so looking at what is most important will help you stay on top of things and avoid you falling behind.
Exercise is a great way to keep the mind focused and boost concentration levels. When you exercise you boost the transportation of oxygen to your brain. This will greatly enhance your functionality and attention.
Try exercising for 30 minutes before you study. Go for a walk or a job. Aerobic exercise can provide you with a great boost which will improve your ability to maintain your focus as you do your coursework.
When your study for long periods, it is a good idea to go for a walk and get some fresh air on a break. Even to do some exercise for 15 minutes can go along with towards boosting your concentration when you return back to studying.
8) Find Your Motivation
Rewards are a great way to motivate yourself to get coursework done. Set yourself a goal and when you achieve it be sure to give yourself a reward. This can be anything from a break, to going for a walk, socialising with your friends, or even allowing yourself a tasty treat while watching some TV.
Find your why or reason for studying the course you are on. Whether it is to pursue your dream job or to go travelling when you’re finishing, focus on the reason you decided to start it and the benefits of completing it.
Focus on how good it will feel to have it done. Even a class project, when you are doing it, focus on the benefits that you will receive by finishing it. Sometimes visualising your future can be a great way to get yourself motivated before your study.
9) Take Effective Breaks
During your study periods, it is important to take proper breaks. Taking effective breaks will enable you to be more effective and productive when you return to your work.
During your short break, take a walk, listen to music, have some food or even talk to your friends. This will help you to clear your mind before returning back to your coursework. Refreshing your mind will help boost your focus and attention.
10) Keep a Clear Study Space
When you’re in your study environment make sure it’s clean and organised. Keep only those things you need to do your coursework on that particular subject near you. This will prevent you becoming distracted by other things and subject work.
Having only what you need in front of you will help you stay completely focused on the task at hand and prevent your mind from wandering and thinking of other things that are not as important at that time.
It is also a good idea to keep a little notepad beside you so if you happen to think of something that is not related to what you are currently doing but is important, you can write it down on your notepad. This will enable you to clear that thought from your mind and return back to what you were doing.
11) Break Up Your Tasks
When you have projects or work to do, break it up into smaller simple tasks. This will make learning and study more manageable and prevent you from becoming overwhelmed.
Also, as you finish each part you can see the progress that you are making which will encourage you to keep going and help you stay motivated. Document your progress and physically tick off the smaller tasks as you complete them. This will help you feel like you’re moving through your workload quickly and start making your large goals look more and more realistic.
12) Be Mindful
Mindfulness is an awareness in an individual, that allows them to pay special attention to what is going on around them. It allows people to smartly face challenges in their everyday lives. People who are mindful always focus on incidents as they occur, in the present moment.
You can see how this would be beneficial when studying. By being able to completely focus on the task at hand, block out any distractions or unproductive thoughts, you’re in a much better position to learn new information and obtain it.
There are many exercises that can help you learn how to be mindful. Meditation is a prime example but if that’s not your cup of tea, you can simply practice emptying your mind of thoughts and focussing your concentration. With practice, you’ll be able to do this for longer periods of time.