Concentrating Effectively

Excluding Distractions

It is impossible to totally eliminate all sources of distraction and interruption, but one needs to try to control factors that interfere with concentration.

  1. Assign a time for study. Concentration is aided considerably if you know that at certain hours each day you will be studying. Let your friends/family know this, too. Tell them that during your assigned study time, you'd prefer not being bothered.

  2. Choose a place with minimum distraction. If you try to read or study in a place where there is a lot of activity, you will probably find that your mind wanders.

  3. Establish a study area. Don't try to read in your TV chair or stretched out across your bed; you have already built associations with your chair and bed as places to relax or sleep. Set aside a place where your only activity is studying. You don’t write bills there; you don’t read magazines there; you don’t play with the kids there. You only study there.

  4. Eliminate distracting clutter. Don't keep bills to be paid, letters to be answered, photos, or interesting magazines on the desk where you study because they may draw your mind away from study.

  5. Have necessary materials available. If you have to get up for a dictionary, pens, pencils, paper, calculator, index cards, etc., you break your concentration and take the chance of being distracted from the task at hand.

  6. Study your most difficult subjects when you are fresh. Save later study times for more routine tasks such as reorganizing your lecture notes or organizing material for a speech.

  7. Pay attention to your physical state. If you are hungry, tired, or sluggish, stop and take a short break, have a snack, or get up and walk around.

  8. Use study breaks. Study for an hour, and then take a 5 to 10 minute break. Knowing you will have a break is in itself an aid to concentration.

  9. Use a reminder pad. If you are distracted by thinking of something you should remember to do, such as scheduling a dental appointment, write it down to get it off your mind. Then go back to studying.

  10. Develop confidence. Saying "I'll never pass this course" or "I can't get in the mood to study" is a beginning step toward not being successful. Concentration requires self confidence.

  11. Balance study time with other activities. For those who are working part-time or have families, this suggestion will take care of itself. Break up study sessions. Jog around the block, play tennis, telephone a friend. You'll find you are much more likely to concentrate when you do study.