It’s easy to just tell someone to focus, just focus, and you’ll get straight A’s. But what does that even mean? It’s a big word for only five letters, and we’re going to explain it.
First and foremost, know what you are doing. This is something that you will benefit from for the rest of your life. Give some thought to what you are setting out to accomplish and factor in the distractions. Take this as an example:
Goal – Learn 20 new words in this 1 hour session.
Distractions – Cell phone, computer (unless you are working on it), social networking, doorbell, Mom, hunger/thirst, boredom, etc.
Now we don’t need to explain how easy it is for these trivial distractions to interrupt your session and break the delicate flow of your concentration. However, you can resist the onslaught of these distractions by just accounting for them in your study plans. So let your folks know that you are not to be disturbed for the period of your study (specify the timeframes to them or put up a sign on your door). Turn your cell phone off for the duration, put on your music so you can slip into your “zone”, and keep a snack and a beverage of choice within arm’s reach. (Yes, you are going Rambo on your study session, minus the shoelace, headband and knife.) Can you think of any other distractions? Go Rambo on them too; then watch yourself breeze through the study session.
Be objective in your approach so you know exactly what you are doing and can measure your progress. Create specific goals, milestones and landmarks in identifiable terms: for example keep track of the number of skills you have mastered in math prep, or the number of words from the vocab list that you are familiar with—having a list that you add to, or cross things off, is more helpful than you’d think. Something you can hold in your hand that says “these are the things you’ve finished” is a boost. This way you are breaking down your material into bite-sized chunks that you can comfortably absorb. Center your study sessions around these sharply defined objectives and then celebrate your accomplishments.
Find out what makes you tick. Pencil in some physical activity while you work because taking a break from strenuous mental activity for strenuous physical activity will act like a palate cleanser. Finish a section and take a break before moving on to the next one. We know one guy who would count a perfect square with every push-up—by the time he had to take the test, he could give drop and give you twenty and tell you perfect squares through 400.
Arrange for your test materials to enter your consciousness every way they can: use your environment as a mode of recall. Place visual or auditory references where you can see and hear them and keep them in mind. Take the vocab words that worry you the most (the abstruse, cryptic, inscrutable, esoteric, and arcane ones—see I just did it, easy peasy) and let them etch themselves into your mind.
Keep your sessions short and frequent. Reward yourself with breaks: after completing a successful round, take a short walk, check your FB inbox, call up a bud, or flaunt your achievements to your folks. This will reenergize your brain and enable you to control and direct your attention—switch it on and off when required. Follow these guidelines and your study sessions will no longer be banal, insipid, inane, enervating and brain-draining marathons. They’ll be challenging tests of your cogency and lucidity that you’ll anticipate with eagerness instead of dread.
Give us a buzz at the Premier Tutors and we’ll hook you up with these skills.