Focus is the mental effort you direct towards whatever you are learning or working on at the moment. Factors such as age, brain injuries, mental health conditions, hunger, stress, and lack of sleep can affect one’s ability to focus while learning. Others are social media, text messages, emails, and a wandering mind.
You could use lots of creative and efficient ways to improve your focus while learning. Drinking coffee, exercising, getting a good night of sleep, turning off your phone, avoiding social media sites, setting goals, and rewarding yourself; all that can help. You could also check top essay writing service reviews and outsource extra work such as essay writing to the best essay writing company to better focus on your studying. However, while these pointers work for most persons, they do not help others.
Read along to learn about the unusual yet research-backed tricks to help eliminate distractions and improve your focus while learning.
№1. Play brain and video games before learning
Brain games such as sudoku, chess, jigsaw puzzles, and memory games can impact one’s ability to focus while studying. Video games have been found to help increase attention and boost concentration. These games improve Visual Selective Attention (VSA), which refers to one’s ability to concentrate on a specific task while ignoring distractions. By spending about 15 minutes a day on brain training activities, you can improve your concentration to a large extent.
№2. Listen to music
For most students, too much background noise can be distracting. But turning on music while working or studying may help increase concentration. Music can stimulate the brain, and so, it enables you to focus and also improves your memory. The type of music matters, though. Classical music with a fast tempo, for example, is excellent at helping students focus better, memorize and recall easily.
Video game music is also designed to keep you focused on completing a task with minimum distraction. You must have noticed that you tend to stay focused on a game when the music is playing. There are many types of gaming soundtracks available online to help you get down to your study. However, try to keep the music soft and avoid choosing music you love or hate, so it does not also end up being a distraction.
If you do not enjoy listening to music as you work and feel they are too great a distraction, using nature sounds or white noise to mask those background sounds could improve concentration and other brain functions. Ambient or electronic music without lyrics is also great at improving focus.
№3. Wear headphones
When listening to music or sounds in others’ presence, it is best to use earphones so that you do not distract them from their activities. Yet, headphones still have a part to play in improving focus even when you are not playing music. Noise-canceling headphones or earphones insulate you from the outside world, reduces the likelihood that others will interrupt your study, and reminds you that you are in the middle of something important to you.
№4. Practice alternate nostril-breathing exercises
By regulating your breathing, you can optimize your noradrenaline levels and improve your concentration. The most popular way of doing this is by deep breathing exercises. Another alternate yet effective way of regulating your breathing is by practicing yoga breath control called alternate nostril breathing.
Here, you press one of your fingers into your nostril to close it off. Inhale through your left nostril, then use another finger of the same hand to close your left nostril and exhale through the right. Reverse the pattern and repeat it three times before starting a study session or whenever you feel you are drifting. The exercise increases creativity, your mind’s ability to focus, mental balance and gives your body a chance to calm down.
№5. Adjust the temperature of your learning environment
If it is too hot or cold in your learning environment, it could impact your concentration. Your body uses more energy to keep warm when it is cold in a room, thereby leaving less energy for focus. A study from Cornell University found that workers were less distracted, more productive and made fewer errors in an environment that is about 77⁰F than one that was 68⁰F. The research showed that the best and most conducive temperature for learning and working is between 72-77⁰F.
By either reducing or increasing the thermostat to the optimal warm temperature, you improve the overall perception of your environment’s air quality. If you do not control the thermostat, you can opt to bring a sweater or a fan, depending on the case. Just ensure the temperature is optimal for you.
№6. Let the sun shine
You could further improve your focus by opening your room’s windows or lifting your window blinds and letting the sun in. Studies show that the right dose of morning light stimulates one’s serotonin levels, enhancing mood, focus, and sleep quality.
People exposed to daylight were also more alert towards the evening’s end, unlike those exposed to artificial light. So if you are having trouble staying focused, take a quick trip outside to get some fresh air and sunlight.
№7. Go Yellow and Green
The color yellow is associated with happiness. A simple poster or photo of some yellow flowers is enough to boost your alertness and focus throughout the day. A little greenery also has the same effect. It makes you happier, more productive and gets you emotionally involved in your work. That is why children’s classrooms are often painted with yellow color or adorned with pictures of flowers.
№8. Use a phone camera or webcam to record yourself
Before you start learning, set up a webcam or your phone camera to record a video of yourself. It is probably weird, but the idea is to create accountability. As you would have had a friend check up on your progress, now you have a camera watching everything you do.
When you are about to get distracted, you will remember that everything you are doing is being recorded. The knowledge that you are being watched will remind you of your objective, which is to study.
№9. Look at cute animal pictures
A study by some Japanese scholars has shown that looking at simple cute pictures of animals can improve productivity. The study tested individuals (men and women) and their performance after looking at pictures of a cute baby or adult animals. The best results were pictures of puppies and kittens.
They concluded that “cuteness-triggered” positive emotions improve performance by narrowing the breadth of attentional focus. By having such pictures on your wall or desk, you could improve your focus while learning.
So, you are studying, but your mind keeps drifting. Well, you can improve your focus – and your artistic skills – by doodling. Doodling is a form of concentration workout that helps stabilize arousal at an optimum level, keeping people awake and reducing the high levels of automatic arousal associated with boredom. It is a trick that can work for children as well as adults.
Taking short mental breaks in the middle of a long task re-energizes the brain and helps you stay focused on your learning. To up the ante, you could chew a piece of gum during the break as studies have found that more significant cerebral activity takes place following gum chewing. Just spit out the gum before you continue learning, so it does not act as a distraction.
Focus is something that all students struggle with, but some strategies can yield remarkable results when it comes to concentration. Yes, building your mental focus will not happen overnight; it requires plenty of time and practice to strengthen. But once it is there, you will find that you can accomplish more and concentrate on the things that truly bring you success, joy, and satisfaction.