When you are trying to focus better, one or more of these can work.
Having lots of tactics can be an embarrassment of riches, though. If you try to do a whole lot of things, you might end up doing nothing. So breaking it down to ONE thing, like a mantra that you approach your day with, will be very helpful.
Let’s look at the one thing first, and then break it into a list of techniques where you can choose something that suits you to apply to the times when you work.
YOUR ONE MANTRA FOR FOCUS.
- You could just use the word Focus as your mantra. It’s what you want, after all.
- You will need to translate ‘Focus’ into actions that you take.
- Focus means sitting down at the desk
- Opening a working window, not social media
- Typing, crunching numbers, whatever ‘work’ means in your ToDo List.
- Be clear on what actions you are to take. The word Focus won’t get you very far until you translate it into something actionable.
ANOTHER METHOD IS TO ALLOCATE WORK HOURS, AND FOCUS.
Mentally clock on to work:
- These hours are non-negotiable.
- You are allowed breaks, but they are re-energizing breaks, not procrastination breaks.
For study, you will need a plan:
- When to study certain subjects.
- Whether to do practice exams, assignments or memorizing for exams etc.
- Work out when it is best to do certain activities, and in what proportion.
- Make this realistic and constantly review it. You don’t want to abandon your plan because it doesn’t allow time for the writing task that is due tomorrow.
- Make it flexible enough to work.
- Have a plan for:
- due dates first
- and then what you should do when you have met the deadlines.
- Work backwards from deadlines and block in enough time to complete these tasks.
Your study plan can then become your ONE THING to focus on.
- Fulfill the plan with half-hours and occasionally hours of focused activities.
Your aim here is to approach each day with ONE THING in mind and one action that gets you studying.
Once you have your one thing in place, here are some tips to help with focused activity. One or more of these might be the magic that works for you in the implementation phase.
- Work out long term goals. Break them down into smaller tasks, to the point that you know what you should be doing today.
- Check that your subjects are getting the appropriate weighting to pass all of them.
- Try for a little balance in your life too – can you do some intense intervals of exercise in your breaks, for example.
Decide, then Commit
- Focus is a decision.
- Make that decision and then commit to it each day. It will be too hard if you have to make the decision over and over — you might find yourself deciding the other way…
- Are you the sort of person who likes to run by the clock? If you are, you can tell yourself that study time starts at X.00 am and goes until Y.00. Not negotiable.
- You can decide what rewards will work for you. They don’t have to be expensive, or bad for your waistline. They don’t have to be time consuming.
- You might even find that it will work to introduce a ‘punishment’ if you don’t meet a target. You could donate a small amount to charity, or make yourself do a household chore you hate. Be sure not to let yourself off the punishment you have set for yourself.
Long term rewards This is what it is all about.
- Maturity and focus are all about working for feeling good in the future, and sacrificing feeling good now. Did you notice that you will feel good in the future, so that is a bonus.
- If you sacrifice watching that video for a great day of achievement in study, remember how good you will feel later.
- Our brains want the gratification NOW, but tell your mind to wait, and push through. The reward is coming. Just delay the gratification a little while.
- It is the mature, disciplined thing to do.
- Good students do it, so why not join them?
- Speaking of discipline, can you engage a ‘coach’ in you head. Employ for free a mental personal trainer, or a Jiminy Cricket and have him on your shoulder making you work.
- Do what he says when he is urging you to keep focused.
Change your environment
- Too many distractions at home?
- Head for the library, or a coffee shop.
- Try another room.
- Unplug the TV.
- Work when everyone else is asleep or not home.
- Whatever it takes.
- As I said, unplug that TV.
- Don’t have Social Media open.
- Put your phone out of reach and out of sight.
- Turn off the pings and notifications.
- Use your phone as a timer for study sessions — that is ok.
- Tell friends and family you are busy. You’ll help them when you have finished studying.
Remove all other options
- Nothing focuses the mind like a lack of options. Don’t think of your back-up plan. This is the real thing.
- Can you enlist someone to keep you accountable?
- Working with another student with the same level of commitment as you is a good idea, because you will keep each other accountable, but you will feel like you can’t slack off and let them down. While they are keeping you accountable, you are also trying to be a role model for them. Win-win.
- If you don’t have someone, no problem. Set a reminder on your calendar and phone to see if you have done task x, y and z by tomorrow morning/end of the week. When the reminder comes up, you are your own accountability buddy.
- There is probably a forum somewhere that you could use for this, but don’t spend hours in the forum. Just post your goal and get someone to check if you have done it.
Good luck, and I hope you find the focus you desire.