Throughout my academic life, studying has always been a love-hate relationship of mine. However over the years, I have discovered multiple ways to make studying easier and a little more enjoyable. Therefore, here are my top ten tips to remain focused when studying...
When my motivation to revise is at its lowest point, I find that going out and buying new stationery makes me more eager to study. Whether you purchase new stationery at the start of term or in the middle of the year, having new notebooks and folders always makes me that little bit more excited to start studying. I have also found that having matching stationery sets causes me to feel more organised and are fun to use. Please keep in mind not to spend too much money when buying new stationery, as being a student isn't the cheapest. I therefore recommend looking around supermarkets and other shops as they often have the same sets found in book and stationery shops, but for a lot less money.
2) Don't study on your bed.
If you are staying in student accommodation, or have a desk in your bedroom at home, it can be both a blessing and a burden. I find that having a desk away from my bed helps me to remain focused, however there is the risk that you find yourself eventually moving onto your bed. So if studying in your bedroom doesn't work for you, or you don't have a study area at all, find a new place where you know nothing will distract you. Examples of this are a public or campus library, a common/study room, or maybe at the kitchen table (providing your friends or family aren't too distracting). Most of the time, studying is easier when your environment puts you into that frame of mind, along with separating your studying from relaxing time.
3) Be strict.
When revising you need to have someone pestering you to study whether that be a teacher or a parent, but there comes a time when that "someone" has to be you. As tedious as studying is, you need to come to the realisation that there is a reason for all of this work, which is your future. So many people admit that they wish they tried harder in school/college, and this is your chance. So, whether this means moving your phone away from you, limiting the time you spend watching Netflix or pushing yourself to read that book you've been assigned, being strict on yourself will not only help you right now, but you will also be grateful for this in the future.
4) Create a timetable.
A major problem I experience when studying is sticking to my time limits. Studies have shown that your brain retains information more efficiently when you revise in half an hour intervals. I tried to stick to this, but would almost always study one subject/module for hours. This would consequently result in an overkill, where I subconsciously stopped taking in the information that I had just learnt. To resolve this issue, I now create timetables and use alarms to help me manage my time, whilst also avoiding over-studying. You can create timetables in a notebook, on Word/Pages or online, however it is better to keep your timetable in an accessible place, such as above your desk rather than in a diary, as this allows you to view it frequently and you are therefore more likely to use it.
5) Don't over-study.
While it is important to revise as often as you can, you also need to avoid studying excessively. Not only does this unknowingly exhaust and overwork your brain, but it is also important to make time for other activities such as spending time with family and friends, exercising or just simply spending time unwinding. You can achieve this by using a timetable or simply limiting yourself through the use of breaks, and also having a cut off time (for example stop studying at 7 PM). Other methods of giving your brain a break is by moving away from the place where you study, such as going on a short walk to refresh your mind, or by making yourself some food. Avoid lying on your bed or going on your phone during study breaks as before you know it hours will pass by and important study time will be wasted.
6) Create goals.
Creating goals is a very simple, yet very effective way of remaining focused. This can be achieved through mood boards, filling your room with inspirational quotes, or writing down your ambitions in your notebooks and planners. One method that I found extremely effective when studying was through printing off pictures of all the things I want to achieve in the near and distant future and placing them in my notebooks. This therefore gives me something to look forward to (such as a holiday I'm going on that year) or something I want to gain later in life (for example my ideal job). If you are currently studying for College or University it is useful to print off a picture of where you want to go and keep it by your desk. This way you will always have a reminder of the goal that you want to achieve as you study.
7) Filter distractions.
Whether you want to admit it or not, procrastination is one of the main reasons we find studying so hard to stick to. Therefore, one of the best ways to deal with this issue is simply filtering out what distracts you. For example if you find yourself constantly checking your phone, simply mute conversations that might tempt you, turn off social media notifications and put it somewhere else. (Just in case someone desperately needs to reach you it is always best to leave your phone off silent when moving it away from your study area). On the other hand you might find yourself suddenly interested in picking up a hobby again or reading a book, and so make sure that everything on and around your desk is simply to do with your task in hand.
8) Keep tidy.
When your room or study space is a mess, it is often hard to find the motivation to do anything, let alone study. Therefore always keeping your desk tidy enables you to get on with revising rather than having to take the time to start cleaning, or worse avoiding studying at all. You can achieve a more organised work space through the use of trays and files to avoid your desk being littered with paper, along with set places to keep essential bits of stationary such as highlighters and sticky notes. I aim to tidy and clean my desk once a week to avoid cluttering and general uncleanliness as I also find that cleaning your room also helps to clean up your mind and remain focused.
9) Remain inspired.
Another useful method of remaining focused is through the means of inspiration such as following study blogs, or watching videos online. I personally find that watching Youtube videos of how people study and organised helps me to remain motivated and subsequently more eager to revise. Other examples of this include Pinterest pages and Instagram accounts that focus on studying. These pages often post studying hacks, advise and inspirational quotes. Getting involved with the online studying community really helps give that kick you need, as they help to make revising more desirable rather than something to dread.
10) Reward yourself.
One of the most important tips on this list is rewarding yourself after studying. This can be as simple as binge watching your favourite TV show, or going out with friends afterwards. I find that little treats now and again give me something to look forward to after revising, along with being short term goals. I have seen multiple examples of this online, a famous one being rewarding yourself with sweets with every chapter of a book you study. Always remember that your mental health and over all well being is what is most important, therefore spending time relaxing and rewarding yourself after a long day revising keeps you focused and refreshes your brain before you start studying again.