Stay focused? That’s easier said than done.
In the world of Netflix and social media, studying seems almost impossible. One minute you’re reading notes and the next, you’re binging “Into the Badlands.” Or worse – you’ve fallen down the Facebook rabbit hole and you’re three years into the profile of an old crush. Look, we’re not here to judge you (or your Facebook stalking). Distractions can get the best of anyone. But if you’re looking to have a successful classroom experience (and GPA), then it’s time to learn the art of staying focused.
How to stay focused in class
The first step to straight A’s is paying attention in class. Because no matter how long or hard you hit the books, studying information you didn’t learn is impossible. So avoid missing out on important content and potential test material with these classroom tips.
1. Sit in the front row.
Not only will you hear the lecture more clearly, but you won’t be able to see the computer screens of sidetracked classmates ahead of you. Up front and center, you’ll feel more engaged, alert and motivated (aka guilted by your instructor) to take notes.
2. Put your phone on airplane mode.
With your device in the clouds and temporarily out of reach, you’re more likely to come back down to Earth and stay focused on the lecture. Check your text messages and Snapchat after class.
3. Ditch the fancy tech.
Since most of us don’t have the discipline to use our laptops, tablets and iPads solely for note-taking purposes, opt for old fashioned pen and paper. This is a much safer option for staying focused, and more productive. Some studies even suggest that taking notes by hand can help with learning and retention.
If you’re taking a discussion-based class, make sure to join talks and ask questions. Not only will participating keep you from feeling sleepy and help boost your final grade, but formulating thoughts and arguments can help ensure you understand the material. Of course, this means you’ll actually have to read the assignment first.
How to stay focused while studying
Next, it’s time to reinforce what you’ve learned. But getting distracted during a study session can be way too easy. If you want to stay focused while studying, remember to put those phones on airplane mode and follow the tips below.
5. Don’t study where you sleep.
You’ll find yourself taking an unexpected nap, browsing through the magazines on your bedside table, folding laundry, reorganizing – anything to procrastinate. Instead, look for a study space that will get you out of the dorm, house or apartment. You want an area that is clean and tidy, quiet and filled with lots of natural light.
6. Do not study with friends.
No matter how hard everyone promises to stay focused, going over notes will turn into a hangout session. Instead, study solo. Give yourself a chance to review the material and then meet up with friends to quiz one another later.
7. Study one subject at a time.
People nowadays like to multitask. We use our phones to text and check Instagram, while watching shows on our tablets and cooking dinner. But the truth is, people can’t multitask effectively, especially when the job requires us to process information. So to avoid inadequately reviewing information and forgetting material, concentrate on one subject.
8. Don’t cram.
Instead of stressing yourself out and losing sleep to study three weeks’ worth of information the night before a test, lightly review your notes after each class. Then, do one big cumulative review at the end of each week. By the time exams roll around, you’ll feel well-prepared. Use diagrams, flow charts and other visuals to help you along the way.
9. Know your limits.
Studying without breaks can be very ineffective. You’ll feel burned out, tired and extremely unfocused. So, remember to study in intervals. If you plan to have a two-hour review, study for 30 to 45-minutes at a time and take 15-minute breaks to snack and stretch your legs. When you sit back down to keep studying, you’ll feel refreshed and more alert.
How to stay focused on test day
Staying focused doesn’t end after your study session. Here’s how you can stay on your toes in the time leading up to an exam.
10. Keep your mental space clean.
Don’t spend the precious moments before an exam surfing the internet or using social media. You should also avoid chatting with Negative Nancy’s who are convinced everyone is going to fail the test. The hours before an exam are your time to get in the right mental space, so use it wisely to stay calm, cool and collected. If it helps, tune out the world using soft, moderately-paced music and visualize your path to success.
Staying focused begins with your physical and mental health. Getting enough sleep each night, exercising, eating healthy and filling meals, having a sensible work-life balance and taking breaks when necessary are all essential to ensuring your best performance. So in the midst of all your papers, exams and other school stresses, remember to take care of numero uno – you!
What tips and tricks do you use to stay focused both inside and outside of the classroom? Tell us in the comments.
For more back-to-school stories and tips, visit AAA.com/SchoolStories.