“How to focus on studies for long hours without getting distracted?”, “How to concentrate on studies for long hours during exams?”, Or “How to concentrate on studies continuously?” – These are some examples of search terms used by students on the internet. This article shares some simple tips you could use as a student to focus on your studies and do well.
Staying focused on studies is a big challenge for students.
The reason is simple – there are way too many distractions around – facebook, twitter, Instagram, snapchat, Whatsapp, YouTube, internet and whatnot. The list is endless and should be a concern for students who are trying to stay focused on studies to score better marks in exams. Now, the question is – what to do about the distractions? We’ll talk about that but first, let’s find out if distractions is a new phenomenon.
‘Distractions’ is Not Something New
Distractions have always been there. You need to find ways to get around them so you could focus on your studies for more extended hours.
When I was a child, there were comics, ‘Gilli Danda’, ‘Kanchhe’, ‘Lattu’, TV shows on Doordarshan and things like that. The times changed, and electronic media, video games, mobile games, Xbox, Netflix, Amazon prime and stuff like that took over.
But one thing is for sure – distractions have been there in one form or another. And guess what, we survived them – I survived them and you will, too. So, don’t get disheartened. Cool?
Now let’s get down to business.
If your mind gets distracted easily during studies, it shows that you need to train it to focus on the task at hand. That way you can make your study session more productive. Otherwise you’ll be like a ship that goes left and then right, and then left again, and in the end, it reaches nowhere.
Beware: Multitasking Won’t Get You Anywhere
Don’t fall for the trap of multitasking. The so-called gurus who teach multitasking to complete more in lesser time are naive. Multitasking is a bad habit, it never lets you focus on one work with undivided attention, and you end up being a below average student.
Here’s the golden rule to focus on studies for long hours:
Focus on one task at a time, and do it wholeheartedly
“I know I need to focus on studies but lack the motivation. What should I do?”
Well, it’s not that you aren’t motivated to focus on your studies. You are.
The motivation gets fired up even more when you think about that highest scoring student – the topper of your class – who stays at the top of every single exam. You say to yourself – “Baby, it’s time to focus on studies. Let’s show the world who’s the boss.”
You begin – everything goes well for three, four or maybe seven days. But then you get bored, distracted, and demotivated. Social media catches your attention, and guess what, you leave that science chapter incomplete and start exploring WhatsApp messages.
Boom!! The studies get sidelined.
The cycle keeps repeating itself. Studies suffer, and you start doubting yourself. That’s not a good thing.
Your heart knows that if you were to make a career in the field of your choice, you must keep your concentration level high to stay focused on studies. (But this damn mind, shit, it keeps getting distracted.)
And by the way, have you ever wondered why the focus is so goddamn important? Why your parents, teachers and everybody under the sun keeps telling you the same?
Do you like stories?
OK, Let me tell you a story about the power of focus. I had read the story in one of the fluentzy books by Prof. Kev Nair. (Fluentzy is a self-study course to help improve your spoken English)
The Story of ‘Power of Focus’
There once was a man who wished to had water. He went out, chose a spot at random and started digging. After 15 minutes, he got bored. “Damn! There’s no sign of water yet; I think this is not the right spot. Let’s find another one.”
He left that spot and started digging at another place, and pretty soon, he was bored again. Once again, he was searching for the “right” spot.
He kept on looking for the right spot until evening and finally ended up with no water in sight. Frustrated and discouraged, he went back home and narrated the incident to his wife.
She thought for a moment, smiled, but didn’t say anything.
Next morning, the wife went out, sifted through several spots and chose one that she thought was “right.”
She started digging. Fifteen minutes, thirty minutes, one hour – the clock was ticking, and she was digging with all her might. The husband was curious.
The sun, birds, and the trees around were surprised at her determination. She kept digging and had water by the sunset. She was happy, and her husband was delightfully surprised. “How did you do that?”, he asked.
“Focus!”, she replied.
If you want to develop your focus, you must eliminate as many distractions from your life as you can. It’s true you cannot remove the distractions entirely, but you can surely minimise them.
The more distractions you could eliminate, the more focused you shall be
The question is, how?
Mark the Distractions
There are two types of distractions in a student’s life.
- Distractions you can control
- Distractions you cannot control
Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and Whatsapp – these are examples of distractions you can control.
You can eliminate them temporarily (or permanently) at this very moment. I know it feels like an impossible task, but you need to take a stand if you’re serious about the focus on your studies and making a career.
Ask yourself – “Has somebody been forcing me to use Facebook, Twitter, or Whatsapp, or any other social media site? Or is it me only who’s been wasting time by checking statuses, tweets and messages zillion times a day? Is technology serving me or am I serving the technology?”
Decide what is more critical – socialising, or focusing on studies to score good marks in exams?
If the answer was to study, then log out of your Facebook, Twitter, and Whatsapp account at least for the time being.
I am serious. No kidding!
Send an email to the people who keep forwarding ‘forwarded’ emails to you (about the world’s craziest, sexiest, funniest, or deadliest things). Ask them politely to remove you from their forwarding list.
Also, make it clear to your friends and family members that you’re serious about focusing on studies. Don’t let anyone distract you in the name of “Hey, do you have a minute?”
Do you have any idea how much time social media and socialising kills every day? You’ll realise you have a lot of free time after you get rid of these distractions, not before.
And if you’re serious about staying focused on studies, then give your smartphone a rest till your exams are over. Smartphones can be the most significant distraction in exam days, just like TV and gaming consoles. I am not saying that smartphones are evil. They have their place, but right now, you need time for studying.
Can You Eliminate the Distractions You Cannot Control?
It includes sounds and noise coming from the streets – fruit vendors, bike horns, car horns, people talking, radios, TVs and things like that. You’ve little or no control over them, but you can control (at least to some extent) the effect they have on you.
For blocking out unwanted sounds and noise, you can use small cotton balls in your ears. It’s true they cannot eliminate the noise, but they do block some. Installing heavy drapes (go as heavy as you can) on the windows of your study room can also give you decent results in blocking out outside noise.
If that’s not possible, why not try studying late at night or early in the morning? You cannot control the outside noise, but you sure can control your study timings.
Need to Concentrate On Your Studies? Ask for Help
Request a relative to lend you a room for studying for the time being. You can also request a friend to give you some study space if his house happens to be in a quieter neighbourhood.
Or consider taking membership in a local library. Libraries are generally more peaceful than homes. And you can focus better on your studies in a library than in a noisy neighbourhood.
Focus on Studies, Not on Distractions
If you keep trying not to get distracted, you’re sure to get distracted because you’re focused on ‘Distractions.’
Instead, focus on staying focused. I know it sounds like the same thing in different words, but it’s not. It’s an entirely different approach.
Remember: Your life energy flows in the direction of your focus – you become your focus.
Acknowledge that from now onward; you shall direct your energy on staying focused (and not on “I don’ want to get distracted”).
Close your eyes for a moment and say to yourself, “I am now going to focus on my studies. I know distractions are there, but they mean nothing. My focus is powerful than distractions.”
Train Your Mind to Focus
Many people recommend meditation to students to fix a distracted mind. It almost never works because what’s needed is concentration and not meditation.
What’s the difference?
Well, when you direct your attention to one and only one subject, it’s concentration. And when you watch the distractions inside (thoughts) within your mind, it’s meditation.
I know meditation is the only way to go beyond mind and experience silence and bliss. But attaining that stage requires a lot of hard work and time – it can take years. Yes, you can surely find time to explore the path of meditation, but right now, you need to focus on your studies and Tratak can help you do that.
Stay Focused On Your Studies With Tratak
Draw a small dot on a wall. Sit at least 3 feet away from the dot in a relaxed posture. Concentrate on that dot – focus your energy on that point no matter how much your mind revolt. The mind shall try to break your focus by thinking about this or that. Be careful to ignore the thoughts and keep your awareness fixed on the dot.
It’s important to stay focused on the dot because your mind can handle only one task at a time – it can either focus on the dot or think.
When you direct all your energy to a particular object, you get none left for thinking. Start this process with two minutes and keep increasing the duration till you reach ten minutes or more. You can expect this exercise to be quite challenging in the beginning, but with time you’ll be able to focus steadily.
This focus exercise (known as “Tratak”) trains your mind to stay focused on the task at hand.
Maintain a ‘To Do’ List to Stay On Track
Studying for long hours can be easier if you know how you’re going to spend the day.
Maintain a list. Note down all the tasks you’re going to complete on any given day. That way you shall be able to manage your time effectively. And when you know the essential things you need to take care of, the unproductive and time-wasting activities disappear on their own.
Don’t Try to Become an ‘Allrounder’
The mind wants to have it all: It wants to become a cricketer, an astronaut, a model, a singer, an engineer, a movie star, and what not.
The good news is – it’s possible – in your fantasies.
In reality, you can make your career in one or two fields only. There’s no such thing as an All-Rounder, and the sooner you realise it, the better.
Let me give you an example from my life:
Apart from being a motivational speaker, and blogger, I am also a voice actor – I record youtube commercials, radio and tv projects, documentaries, etc. You can listen to my voice on my another website tondakvoice.com.
When I started training for voice acting, I tried as hard as I could to master as many as four languages – Hindi, English, Urdu, and Sanskrit. After a year, I realised I was getting nowhere because I wasn’t able to focus on a single language with all my heart. I changed my strategy and started concentrating only on the ones critical to my success. And then, things improved for good.
Don’t pursue anything and everything. Focus on one subject at a time and direct all your energy to that subject only.
Most of the times we do not utilise technology to the fullest.
You see, technology has one primary purpose – to give you more free time to do things you love.
Choose a high-speed Internet connection.
I know it may appear as a waste of money, but it’s not. A high-speed net connection lets you complete tasks at hand in less time so you can focus more on your studies and co-curricular activities.
Take a Break
You see, your mind is a fragile tool – the more sophisticated a device, the better care it requires.
The mind can work hard when it’s fresh and relaxed. Studying continuously for long hours can cause mental fatigue which is counterproductive.
Make it a habit of taking a break of about 15-20 minutes every 2 – 3 hours.
Here are some suggestions to help you relax your mind:
Go for a walk down the street.
Stand in your balcony and stare into the sky.
Black coffee, maybe?
Listen to a song ( or how about singing one?)
These are just suggestions, find out what works for you, and then implement that.
And don’t plan what you’re going to do in your next break. Be spontaneous because planning brings boredom (which is the last thing you would want).
Use Productive Distractions to Your Advantage
Is outside noise driving you crazy?
You can either curse your fate or use a productive distraction to mask up the outside distractions. A productive distraction is one you can control. Try playing soothing music or background noise on your computer. In a way, this too is a distraction, but it’s a good distraction that can mask up the outside distractions.
www.noisli.com is a useful website for creating background noise of your choice. You can mix different sounds to create a productive atmosphere.
Nothing Can Stop You
I am notorious for being a focus freak because I like to enjoy a peaceful life with minimum distractions. And that’s possible only if you eliminate as many distractions as humanly possible.
My friends often ask why am I not on Whatsapp, why don’t I respond to their friend requests on Facebook? Well, because I don’t like getting distracted a thousand times a day.
I do have a facebook page but I don’t have Facebook or Twitter, or Whatsapp installed on my phone.
My phone does not accept calls when I am sleeping or when I am not feeling like talking over the phone (which is quite often).
Is it easy?
Hell no! People treat me as an outcast for being so crazy about focus. But I don’t care what people think about me, as long as I can enjoy a relaxed life.
I am not suggesting you take the same path. I am sharing this to give you a glimpse that anything’s possible if you’re determined.
Concentrate on Studies But Don’t Fight With Distractions
The more you fight with distractions, the more annoyed you shall be.
Feeling agitated because of the distractions? Close your eyes and surrender.
Acknowledge that distractions are there and you cannot do anything about them.
Stop fighting and give up for the time being. Accept the fact that you’re powerless against distractions. Sit for about 10 minutes with the feeling of letting go, and soon you’ll experience peace.
And when you do, focus on your studies, again.