Study Checklist: How to Focus Better
Procrastination is one of life’s greatest pastimes. This phenomenon is often seen in studies or at the workplace.
Have you ever sat down to read, only to close your books a few minutes later and convince yourself that you’ll wake up early to study? In most cases, this never happens, and you end up regretting it the following day.
You aren’t alone in this, as millions of students worldwide face this problem every day. If you can overcome procrastination, you’ll have to face an even bigger challenger—trying to focus.
It’s one thing to sit down to read, and it’s another to focus on whatever you’re studying. This is why some turn to exercise, shrooms, BCAA supplementation, and all kinds of concentration boosting remedies.
But what can you do to reduce procrastination, focus on studies, and change your performance in school?
First: Figure Out Why You’re Struggling to Stay Focused
The first step to solving a problem is acknowledging it. Once you acknowledge it, figure out the causes and triggers.
In this case, you’re struggling to focus and procrastinate whenever possible. Typically, the main causes of poor concentration are:
- The study environment
- Low energy levels
Which of these causes is your Achilles heel?
For example, do you lose concentration every time you study in your bedroom or living room?
If so, the problem could be your environment.
Keep in mind that studying in a library, study room, or classroom isn’t the same as studying in your room, living room, kitchen, or office space. Some of these locations are optimized for studies, while others serve as distractions.
Are you struggling to complete simple tasks because you have your phone, PC, and tablet next to you? Do you log onto social media platforms after studying for 5 minutes? Do your friends and family get in the way of your studies?
If yes, we can say you’re easily distracted.
Are you constantly fatigued, moody, easily irritable, and sleepy during the day? Do you experience brain fog or have difficulties concentrating? Do you lack the motivation to study?
These are symptoms typically associated with low energy levels.
6 Ways to Increase Your Attention Span
Once you’ve figured out the reason you’re struggling to concentrate when studying, it’s time to work on these triggers.
Regular Exercise to Improve Cognitive Abilities
You can’t study in a room where you have distractions at every turn. It takes a single lapse in concentration to spiral into a day of YouTube, movies, social media, playing, etc.
Ideally, you want a study environment that’s comfortable but not too cozy. If it’s too comfortable, you’ll struggle to stay awake or even concentrate.
Therefore, choose a study place where you feel comfortable but don’t have too many distractions to tempt you.
It also helps to create a dedicated study space. Here’s how your brain works; if you lay on your bed, it registers that you want to sleep. If you sit on the couch, the brain registers that you’re trying to rest. If you go to the study room, it registers that you’re trying to study.
Use the video below to learn how to create a productive study space.
Having a dedicated study area will enhance your focus and eliminate distractions. It’s even better if you have a dedicated private room as it’ll lock out the constant distractions from family and pets.
Create a Routine
Typically, during workouts, people warm up before starting the heavy workouts or their exercise routine. Even the elite athletes perform these routines, and the goal is to help ease the body and mind into the heavier exercises.
You need something similar for your studies and not necessarily a workout routine. Think along the lines of a pre-study ritual to help you get into a studying mood. For example, you can play certain genres of music or perform several tasks before you begin studying.
Note: Avoid routines that involve electronic devices and social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, etc. since these can easily lead to further procrastination.
You can clear your study table/area, open the windows for some fresh air, light candles, play baroque classical music, walk outside, listen to nature sounds or feed your pet. Anything that isn’t too distracting and that can help ease the transition will do.
Use Pomodoro Technique to Help You Stay Focused
Have you ever tried to study for, let’s say, five consecutive hours? If yes, how much of what you studied did you remember? Also, did you complete the entire five hours without a lapse in concentration?
We’ve all tried to study for extended periods, especially a day or night before the exams. After a night of studying, you get to the exam room, remember going through the topics but barely recall the content.
Why do you think this happens? You studied but why can’t you remember?
The biggest culprit is your attention span; you can only concentrate for so long before your brain seeks constant stimulation elsewhere. This is where the Pomodoro technique comes in handy.
This technique advocates for shorter study periods with breaks between each period. The most common is a 25-minute study period with 5-minute break intervals.
You can break it down as follows:
- Set the timer to 25 minutes. Set the timer on your phone or with an online Pomodoro timer.
- During the 25 minutes focus solely on your studies. When your 25 minutes are up, a bell will ring.
- Take a 5-minute break. During the break, you can take a walk, use the bathroom, stretch a little, play with your pet, etc. Limit whatever you do to five minutes.
- Set the time again to 25 minutes and get back to studying.
- Take a short break (5 minutes), rest, or do whatever you typically do to ease your mind.
- Repeat this sequence until you’ve studied for 1hr 30 minutes—25 Pomodoros X 4
- Now take a 30-minute break. You can have a snack, send text messages, make phone calls, watch YouTube, etc.
- Repeat the procedure from the start.
Studying for extended periods is exhausting; it will drain you mentally and physically. The Pomodoro technique helps to peak your concentration by giving your brain the breaks it gradually gravitates toward..
Choose a Study Location
Exercises are often linked to muscle growth, healthy bodies, and incredible physics.
According to recent studies, exercises can increase dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine levels in the brain. All three act as neurotransmitters that affect focus, concentration, and attention.
Exercises can also improve your cognitive performance by reducing stress levels, sleep apnea, and anxiety. Most of these issues can lead to cognitive impairment.
Is any exercise good enough? A walk, aerobic exercise, or jog will do. You can try exercises such as martial arts, running, pilates, yoga, etc., to help improve cognitive function.
If you’re doing basic exercises such as walking, burpees, etc., you can perform these before studying. Intense workouts such as heavy lifting can be performed after studying.
Use BCAAs to Boost Concentration
BCAAs are often associated with athletes and exercises, but there’s more to these supplements than just workouts. These supplements can also increase concentration and reduce cognitive fatiguing.
What are BCAAs?
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) comprise three essential amino acids—Valine, Leucine, and Isoleucine—that make up a significant percentage of the body’s muscle protein.
Earlier, we mentioned that you should workout regularly to get your heart pumping and increase neurotransmitter levels in your body. While this works its magic, exercising will also deplete resources, such as BCAAs and glucose, in your body.
As your body depletes these resources, it makes it easy for tryptophan to get through the blood-brain barrier—thanks to reduced competition. Tryptophan is an amino acid often associated with fatiguing in the central nervous system.
Therefore, an increase in BCAAs in your bloodstream through supplementation can limit tryptophan entry into your brain. This may improve memory and concentration by reducing cognitive fatiguing.
Use Adaptogens to Boost Creativity
Adaptogens cut through the brain fog by improving cognitive functions, increasing focus, and boosting creativity.
Adaptogenic mushrooms include:
- Lion's Mane
A recently reviewed study, examined the effects of Lion's Mane on mild cognitive impairments.
According to the study, researchers noted an increase in cognitive function after 8-16 weeks of supplementation.
After the study's timeframe of 16 weeks, participants were taken off lion's mane and noticed a decrease in cognitive functions scores after a short 4 weeks.
Ongoing research on the effects of adaptogenic mushrooms, shows the positive influence they have cognitive functions including focus, concentration, and creativity.
Research on the effects adaptogenic mushrooms have on brain development, focus, and concentration
What More Can You Do to Stay Focused?
Play brain training games or word puzzles, practice mindfulness meditation, try deep breathing exercises, prioritize important tasks, etc. Try to pay attention to what you’re working on by using the Pomodoro technique.