Staying focused – an unorthodox approach

Winter break is finally here , SIGHHHHH. Yes most of us deserve this break after grueling exam sessions of fall semester. Exams are nothing but a way showing the EXAMINER how much and how well we learned. Since last 2 years I have been curiously finding some FOOL PROOF ALGORITHM which I can use to perform well in all exams. Unfortunately, I am convinced that there are different ways to study for different subject at different levels.  But what I realized is that preparing for any exam involves one common ingredient – CONCENTRATION.

Mere mention of the word concentration is enough to make most people anxious. It brings to mind images of straight  posture while sitting on study desk and staring at books.Concentration may be difficult to define, but I will try to give you little insight of what it is . Concentration is easier to describe .For example, Have you ever become so absorbed in your textbook that you find yourself actually “talking” to the author? Have you everbeen studying your notes so intently that when you finally look up, you realize that hours have passed ? That’s concentration!

Concentration has an elusive quality. In fact, concentration comes only when you don’t think about it. If you were thinking deeply about a subject and suddenly realized that you were concentrating, at that moment you would have broken your concentration.Such prolonged, undivided attention can be difficult to achieve because there are dozens of things competing for your attention. Thoughts and ideas constantly bang and knock on the door of your consciousness, trying to gain entry.

The opposite of concentration is distraction in simple terms” if you can minimize distraction, you can maximize concentration”.

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So what’s the first step in eliminating distractions?

 Recognize the type of distraction

Trouble concentrating may come from external distractions, such as sights or sounds that compete for your attention.They can also come from internal distractions, such as worries or daydream. Once recognized, these obstacles to concentration can be overcome.

External distractions:

Anything that stimulates your senses and in the process disrupts your concentration can be considered an external distraction. Study halls are overflowing with such distractions, with everything from banging doors to ringing mobile phones. To work in a way that is compatible with concentration, you need the proper environment.

Select proper study environment

This may seem a very naïve advice, but there is powerful science that backs it.

Whether you choose to work in the library or somewhere else, make sure your study area is reserved for studying,I repeat RESERVED IT FOR STUDYING ! Psychologists emphasize that a conditioning effect is created between you and the desk: If you nap or daydream a lot while sitting at the desk,the desk can act as a cue for napping or daydreaming. By the same token, if you read or work in bed, you make it difficult to work energetically and fall asleep easily. To avoid this negative conditioning, use your desk only for studying. When you feel the urge to nap or daydream, leave your desk to nap or daydream elsewhere.

Try to Minimize Visual Distractions

A sheet of notes or a page from a textbook can seem dull compared with a glimpse of Barcelona match on the screen(or cover drive shot  by Shahid Afridi-for cricket lovers). To improve your chances of concentration, avoid competition for your eyes’ attention.

Eliminate Noise Completely !

If you need a quiet spot for efficient study(come to my home, all right joking), do your utmost to find one. Noise can be one of the most serious obstacles to study effectively. Nothing is more wasteful than going over the same set of notes again and again, if noise makes it difficult to absorb and understand the material.

How to discourage internal distractions

Internal distractions are distractions that you create: daydreams, personal problems,Anxiety etc.

 concentration score sheet


Keep a sheet of paper handy. Whenever you catch your mind wandering, keep score by putting a check mark on the sheet. The mere act of doing this reminds you to get back to work.The concentration scoresheet encourages critical self observation. Making note of your breaks in concentration,when they happen, how often they occur, and what triggers them—will help you realize just how intrusive the lapses are and will enable you to slowly eliminate them.

Write down what worries you the most


Use this technique when some obligations or worries are nagging you and taking your mind off the work. The concentration scoresheet will alert you to these breaks in your attention, but it won’t solve  the problems that prompted the distractions. To prevent the same worries from interfering with your concentration again and again, you must address them(a.k.a : fake them up). A worry pad might provide  an excellent short-term solution to the problem.When some random thought disrupts your concentration, write it down on your worrypad with the idea that you will attend to it just as soon as you get the time. Then with your conscience clear and your thought recorded on paper, you can get back to the business of concentration. After you have finished studying, read over you’r list and give these concerns your full attention.

Ultimately, learning to concentrate is like learning to be a good gardener. Anyone who has had experience raising  fruits, or vegetables knows that you can’t actually make them grow. The plant takes care of that, not you. All you can do is improve the conditions for growth. That requires skill and planning. It’s the same with concentration.







2 thoughts on “Staying focused – an unorthodox approach

  1. This is good, and the concentration sheet thing is a good tip. However, this probably works only for a certain percentage of the population. Quiet can drive you insane while studying, it gets boring. A study environment doesn’t have to be a controlled, sealed-off vacuum. Some of us can only concentrate with background noise, or in my case, different music for each type of subject. And food, let there be food!

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