The Commons
no concentrationKeep nodding off in class?

Can’t keep your mind on the assignment you’re trying to finish?

Try one of the following strategies.

10 Helpful Tips for Concentration arrow View
Get enough sleep, good nutrition and regular exercise - pretty basic stuff, but still vital. Get 8hrs good sleep each night. Get a balanced diet meeting all your body’s needs including water. Get at least 1/2hr of aerobic exercise three times a week. You’ll feel more energetic and better able to concentrate.

Identify what distracts you - is it the phone, the fridge, the TV, the Internet? If you don’t know, do a time audit to see where you’re losing time on distractions.

Choose to sit where distractions are fewest – in class, this is usually towards the front. For studying, it’s anywhere you can find quiet, like the library. You can reduce distractions anywhere by putting your phone on message mode, turning off the TV or choosing an out of traffic area of the library.

Schedule your study time – concentration can drift if you don’t have a target time to finish by. Set a time and stick to it.

Set goals – concentration can also drift if you don’t know what you want to accomplish. Decide and stick to it. Reward yourself for meeting your goals, with a snack or a refreshing walk.

Study with less background noise – many young people say they absolutely need music to study, only to report later how much easier it is to work when it’s quiet. Try an experiment - try three weeks without music during studying and see if your results improve (as all the research suggests it should!).

An alert body means an alert mind– when you slouch, your brain slouches too. Help yourself concentrate by sitting up straight in a comfortable, supportive chair in a well-lit area.

Do one thing at a time - let’s face it: multi-tasking is a myth. You can only truly concentrate on one thing at a time. Instead of watching 2 hours of TV while you try to do homework, do one hour of each. The results will be better.

Never use drugs or alcohol when you need to concentrate - both of these impair concentration. Caffeine is also a drug that can impair concentration. “Energy drinks” make many people feel jittery instead of alert and are best avoided when you need to concentrate.

Know when to get help - if you can’t find any way to maintain concentration, consider seeing a Counsellor to discuss attention disorders.

**Bonus tip: Attitude matters - concentration is difficult without motivation. You can improve motivation with positive self-talk, e.g. “I am capable of this.”
Blocking - A Concentration Strategy arrow View
This technique can help you get rid of any unwanted habit, like smoking or losing concentration. The basic steps are:

Week 1 - Measure - record each time you notice you’ve lost concentration by writing a tick mark on a small note pad or sticky note. Add up all the tick marks for the week.

Week 2 - Target Small Reduction - set a target reduction that you feel you can achieve, say 10% fewer incidents of lost concentration. Continue marking ticks, but monitor so that you consciously try to achieve the reduction.

Week 3 - Target Larger Reduction - set a slightly larger reduction. Monitor ticks, trying to achieve new reduction.

Week 4 and On - continue setting reduced targets & monitoring until unwanted habit is gone, or reduced to a level you find acceptable.

Where Should I Study? arrow View
Analyze your possible study areas. Is the following True or False for each area?

1. Other people often interrupt me.

2. I can often hear the radio or TV.

3. I can often hear the phone ringing.

4. I take too many breaks.

5. I tend to start talking to others.

6. It’s too cold/hot for me.

7. The furniture/lighting makes me feel sleepy.

8. My breaks tend to be long.

9. I keep interrupting my work to get snacks.

10. I seem to be bothered by many distractions.

Add up all the False answers for each area. Your best choice for study area is the area with the most False answers.