You’re trying really hard to focus on studies.
And you are making progress, but still, you’re not where you wanted to be.
Your mind still wanders during studies, and time flies like a supersonic jet. Then you feel bad about yourself, and wonder if something’s wrong with you, right?
Well, don’t beat yourself up—you’re not alone—it happens to most of us.
Why Is Focus Important?
You’re doing everything you can to focus on studies, and that’s a great thing.
But have you ever wondered why focus is important?
Let me tell you a story:
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 unfinished and started digging at another place, and pretty soon, he was bored again. Once more, he was searching for the “right” spot.
He kept looking for the right spot, not sticking to one place long enough. And guess what, he ended up with no water.
The man was frustrated—angry—heartbroken.
With a lowered head and a gloomy face, he went back home and narrated his wife the whole story.
His wife took a deep breath, closed her eyes as if she was trying to see something inside. A smile came on her face, but she kept silent.
The next morning, she went out, sifted through several spots and chose one that she felt was “right,” and started digging.
Fifteen minutes, thirty minutes, one hour—the clock was ticking, and she was digging as fast and as hard as she could. She was drenched in sweat—her face was red—and her hands were hurting. But she didn’t give up.
The husband was curious.
The sun, the trees, and even the birds on those trees, everybody was surprised. She kept digging, and finally, there was water—crystal clear water. She was delighted, and her husband was amazed. ‘How did you do that?’ he asked.
‘Focus!’ she replied with a smile.
Want to develop your focus?
Avoid these ten common mistakes:
1. Believing Distractions Are Your Enemy
Distractions are not your enemy.
In fact, they’re your friends. They can help you develop focus.
You see, anybody can stay focused when there are no distractions. But the real challenge is to have an unwavering focus amidst distractions.
Also, realise that distractions are not something new—they’ve always been there—even when your great-great-grandfather was a little kid. The only difference is how we used to address then in the past, and how we address them now.
When I was a kid, I used to address distractions as “Comics, Gilli Danda, Kanchhe, Lattu, Cartoon shows, etc.” While now, you call them “Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Whatsapp, YouTube, internet, video games, mobile games, Xbox, Netflix, Amazon Prime and stuff like that.”
And guess what?
Your great-great-grandfather survived them, I survived them, and you will too.
2. Fighting the Distractions
There’s a simple rule: the thing you focus on grows.
So, if you focus on staying focused on your studies, your focus shall grow. And if you focus on not getting distracted during studies, distractions will grow.
The more you fight distractions, the stronger they’ll get. So, acknowledge that they’re there and then stop paying attention to them—focus on your studies.
Don’t be anti-distractions; be pro-focus.
3. Assuming You Are Powerless Against Distractions
There are two types of distractions:
- Distractions you can remove
- Distractions you cannot remove
Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and Whatsapp—these are some of the distractions you can eliminate.
It’s because you haven’t taken a stand yet. You don’t know if you really want to get serious about studies or not.
The thing is, if you’re serious about studies, be clear about that. And also, if you’d still love to kill time playing PUBG, be clear about that, too. Stop complaining that you can’t do anything about the distractions. Remember: it’s you only who waste time on distractions. It’s you who stay awake at nights—checking Facebook posts, Instagram photos, WhatsApp messages. Nobody’s putting a gun to your head.
Decide What is Important
Investing time in studies to score high marks and build your dream career? Or wasting time on social media and spend the rest of your life like a loser?
‘Studies,’ you said?
Then do something drastic. Log out of your Facebook, Twitter, and Whatsapp account at least for the time being.
I am not kidding.
I always do that whenever I need to focus on my work or have some peace. My friends are often annoyed at me, ‘Why are you not on Whatsapp?’ ‘Why didn’t you respond to my friend request on Facebook?’
Well, because I don’t like getting distracted a thousand times a day with “twings” and “toings” of notifications.
I do have a facebook page, but I don’t have Facebook, Twitter, or Whatsapp installed on my phone. I put my mobile phone on ‘do-not-disturb’ mode when I am working, sleeping or whenever I don’t feel like talking.
It’s simple, but not easy. People think I lost my mind.
But I am OK with that—as long as I can enjoy a distraction-free life.
So, you see? Anything is possible.
Save Yourself from the Social Media Madness
Social media can drive you crazy, but fortunately, you can take some steps to save yourself the madness:
1. Send an email to the people who send you emails about the world’s craziest, sexiest, funniest, or deadliest things. Tell them politely that you prefer not to receive such emails any longer, and they should take you off of their mailing list.
2. 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, you have a minute?’
3. If you’re really serious about staying focused on studies, then give your smartphone a rest till your exams are over. I am not saying smartphones are evil. They have their place, but right now, you need time to study.
You Cannot “Kill” Them All
You can control a thing or two, but not everything.
Sounds coming from the streets—fruit vendors, vehicles, people talking, radios, TVs, and things like that are not under your control.
But you still can manage the effect these distractions have on you, at least to some extent.
Put small cotton balls in your ears for blocking out unwanted sounds. Sure, these cotton balls cannot eliminate the noise, but they do block some. Also, installing heavy curtains (go as heavy as you can) on the windows of your study room can give decent results.
That’s not possible?
Then try studying late at night or early in the morning (when the outside sounds are at the minimum).
It’s true that you cannot manipulate the outside sounds, but who says you can’t control your study timings?
A Relative in Need is a Relative Indeed
Request a supportive relative to lend you a room for studies for the time being.
Or maybe you can request a friend to give you some study space if his house happens to be in a quieter neighbourhood (with only a couple of dogs barking, ‘wuff, wuff…’).
Or how about your local library? Libraries are generally more peaceful than homes—you can focus better on your studies in a library than in a noisy neighbourhood.
It’s a mistake we all make sometimes.
The “Gurus” suggesting that you should multitask to complete more in lesser time are just naive.
You see, multitasking keeps your attention divided. Can you imagine studying maths, science and social studies at the same time? Or replying to WhatsApp messages while learning chemistry formulas? It’s a sure-shot recipe for disaster. Remember a simple thing: the more you do something, the more you train your mind to do the same thing—over and over again.
So basically, multitasking prepares your mind to stay unfocused, which is the last thing you want.
Keep it simple: focus on one task at a time.
6. Practising Meditation to Stay Focused on Studies
Some people recommend meditation to fix a distracted mind and focus on studies. It rarely works because what’s actually needed is concentration.
What’s the difference?
When you direct your attention to one and only one subject, it’s concentration. And when you watch the distractions inside (the thoughts) within your mind, it’s meditation. Meditation can help you experience silence and bliss but it can take years. And I strongly suggest you stay away from it because meditation might not be for you.
Right now, just focus on your studies. And do everything you can to improve your concentration.
Oh, Tratak can help. It’s a simple technique.
Here’s the link: How to build concentration with Tratak.
7. Doing Everything in Your Head
Most people are guilty of this.
We try to do everything in our heads. We try to remember what we’re going to do on a particular day and rarely note it down.
You see, you can focus on studies easily if you know how you’re going to spend the day.
And you can do that by maintaining a to-do list.
Note down every task you want to complete today. A list will give you clarity and focus. And when you know exactly what do you need to do, the unproductive and time-wasting activities will vanish.
8. Trying to “Have it All”
So, you want to become a cricketer, an astronaut, a model, a singer, an engineer, and a movie star?
Well, 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—the sooner you realise it, the better.
Let me give you my example:
Apart from being a personal development blogger, I am also a voice actor (you can listen to my voice on my other website tondakvoice.com).
When I was training for voice acting, I tried to master as many as four languages—Hindi, English, Urdu, and Sanskrit. After a year, I realised I was getting nowhere, simply because I wasn’t focused. And so, I started focusing on the ones critical to my success. And things improved.
Be careful not to pursue anything and everything.
9. Believing “Slow and Steady” Always Win the Race
Most of the time, we do not take advantage of technology to its fullest.
You see, the primary purpose of technology is to give you more free time to do the things you love.
Don’t fall for slow internet service plans just because they are cheaper. Instead, go for the fastest Internet service you could afford. A high-speed net connection lets you complete more in less time. And that can give you the freedom to focus more on your studies.
10. Neglecting “Breaks”
You see, your mind is a fragile tool, and fragile things demand better care.
You can focus on studies for longer times when your mind is fresh and relaxed. Studying continuously for long hours causes mental fatigue, which’s counterproductive.
You do need a break. Don’t neglect it. Take a break for about 15-20 minutes every two to three hours.
Here are some quick tips:
- Stand in your balcony and stare into the sky.
- Black coffee?
- Listen to a song ( or how about singing one?)
- Watch a funny video on youtube.
- Go for a walk down the street.
And don’t plan what you’re going to do in your next break. Be spontaneous.
Staying Focused on Studies Doesn’t Have to Be Hard
Mistakes could sabotage your efforts to stay focused on studies. Fortunately, avoiding such common mistakes is relatively easy, now that you know about them.
So, develop a plan and get to work. You’ll be amazed at how much can you achieve with focus.