Welcome to the digital age, where we all have the attention span of a goldfish and get withdrawal symptoms when physically 2 metres away from our phones. How are we to ever get anything done? Well… bare with us for a moment:
1. Build a Healthy Everyday Routine
You would be surprised by how far a simple but strictly imposed everyday routine would go to improve your life. The key to making it work is finding a way of evenly distributing your time to cover all important everyday tasks without prioritising one over the other (e.g., sleeping over studying) unless necessary.
There isn’t a standard “one size fits all” formula that will 100% work the same for everyone when building your routine so, naturally, you will have to go through a trial and error phase. Consider covering all that you consider essential and build onto it until you’re happy.
2. Create a Productive and Relaxing Environment
It is vital to reserve yourself a space specifically just for studying that is separate from the rest of the house. Avoid areas such as beds/sofas that we tend to associate with relaxation as that will eventually prevent you from properly resting when you have to and, conversely, will prevent you from getting any work done because you’ll be too relaxed.
Eliminate unnecessary distractions and distance yourself from things that would prevent you from concentrating during working hours: keep away from your phone, TVs, and applications such as Netflix that will keep you from achieving your daily goals.
Embellish your workspace with useful or mentally stimulating knick-knacks that don’t distract you from work at hand, like plants. Try to switch things up once in a while to refresh your brain: try studying at a library or a cafe and give your mind a soft reboot when things get stale.
3. Adopt Healthy Habits
Common logic dictates healthy body=healthy mind and vice versa; science also agrees with this statement. Therefore, taking care of one’s mind and body isn’t only necessary for quality of life. Still, it also contributes to mental preparedness in undertaking tasks and when concentrating.
Maintaining a healthy diet full of “superfoods” (like blueberries and dark chocolate) along with a modest amount of exercise (yoga, jogging, dancing, walking) and the proper amount of sleep, which is vitally essential, make a good recipe for success. The human hierarchy of needs dictates how we, as humans, can only properly function by fulfilling that which is vital for us to operate, so you can only expect to wield realistic results if you take care of yourself.
4. Consider the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique, coined by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s, is a time management method that helps boost productivity by conditioning the brain to work in intervals of 25 minutes with 5-10 minute breaks after each session. The technique is ideal if you are a serial procrastinator or need help concentrating and staying true to the course. You can use a timer to set your desired amount of time to produce uninterrupted work (usually 25 mins), take a 5-min break, resume work, and continue the cycle until you feel like you have achieved your task.
The technique has been widely hailed for helping people become more productive with their time while eliminating distractions and simultaneously not being unbearably difficult.
If you struggle to produce 25 minutes of uninterrupted work and feel as if you’ve been conned, try starting with a shorter time limit, like 15 minutes, and eventually build onto that.
5. Get Rid of Distractions
Allegedly, it takes a person approximately 23 minutes to regain focus after breaking their concentration by getting distracted. We all know how easily we can get distracted nowadays by emails, calls, notifications, social media, etc.
If, like most of us, you lose focus, consider eliminating temptations from your chosen workspace. Use app and software blockers, put your phone on aeroplane mode, and provide yourself with little fidgets that will keep your hands occupied but not your mind – the solutions vary; find what works best for you. Over time your tolerance will increase, and you will find yourself better conditioned to focus longer; don’t get discouraged by failure.
6. Give Yourself a Rest
As mentioned above, failing is an essential part of the learning curve, but we humans sometimes tend to hold ourselves to impossible standards. Don’t be so hard on yourself about straying from your routine or goals. If you fail to complete a task during your desirable timeframe, do not punish yourself by pulling an all-nighter and getting no sleep.
Balancing one’s personal life with studying while also maintaining a healthy lifestyle is no easy feature, and anyone doing so effortlessly is probably putting a lot of effort into it. Allow yourself to make mistakes and not be perfect. Go out, have fun, and binge that show if you must.
7. Listen to your Body
Humans: we are born with some great features. Our subconscious can let us know when something is wrong, and usually, all we have to do is listen. Pay attention to your intuition when something feels off: the work you think you’re getting done while being burnt out probably isn’t worth the sacrifice as much as you think it is. Learn to listen to your body’s needs. At the end of the day, meeting deadlines and getting good grades isn’t worth losing your health over. Skip that scheduled workout if you’ve had a harrowing day of exhaustion, eat that cake you’ve been craving, and take that nap without guilt; if you feel like you mentally need it all, it’s okay.
Nobody is perfect at everything. We all struggle, even though we may not always show it. Your best is good enough, and as long as you do what needs to be done, nobody cares how you managed to do so or how long it took you to do so, so take your time.
The true tip is to end up doing something you enjoy, which will make having to concentrate less of a responsibility and more like personal satisfaction. Find the career that fulfils you here.