September has come and with it a very, very early autumn feeling: grey skies, low temperatures, lots of rain.
It’s time to think about studying again!!!
Keeping the focus on learning could be a very exasperating activity and even if you love your subjects, sometimes it is a challenge to keep the attention going and our mind resolutely fixed on our tasks.
Imaging you planned 3 hours in the afternoon to read the introductive chapter of your literature class. They are only 20 pages and you think you can do it easily, after all you have chosen this subject in the first place.
It’s your favourite topic at the moment.
At the 5th page, you wonder off, you have received a notification in Facebook, you can’t ignore it! Can you?
And there we go… the focus has shifted, after 20 minutes you realise that you should catch up with the reading. The focus was lost and you need to start back at page 1.
Do you know the feeling? I do!!!
I want to share today 5 useful tips that I have practised to help me while studying and struggling to keep my mind in focus. Some may work with you and some may not, but they are there for you to try, so that you can find the best strategy to make the most of your time while studying.
Here we go:
1. Read aloud
It may seem a little foolish as sometimes we are less comfortable with the sound of our voice, but you know, you’re more likely to remember something if you read it out loud instead of simply reading it over and over in silence. Also it is a great exercise between your mind and your voice. You are establishing a connection with your unconscious and strengthening your mental skills.
2. Create mental associations (mnemonic trick)
The ability to make connections is an easier way to remember information, and makes your mind more creative and flexible. Neuroscience research confirms that our minds remember best by using mental pictures with association. By associating contents to images you develop your visual memory and it will be much easier to remember what you have learnt or read. Have fun… the more bizarre the image, the better!!!
3. Draw diagrams
Drawing diagrams will help you to visualise information, this creates a visual memory in your mind which can be useful in remembering things when you need them. The diagrams show the connections between key topics and because you use short words, names, theories in a kind of spider web visual image, your mind recalls what has memorised very easily. Here is an example of a mind mapping diagram: http://creately.com/diagram-examples
4. Use apps to block distracting sites
Now there are some downloadable apps on the internet that can help you to stay away from distractions by blocking websites such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter etc. for a certain amount of time. Here a few examples:
When your brain is concentrated for a long period of time, it starts loosing focus and wondering on its own. That’s why is advisable to take regular study breaks to help your brain rest and recharge. Focus in a task for 30 minutes, then take a short break for 10 minutes. You can set a timer as a reminder or create a study schedule with the various activities to test your productivity, including the breaks in it. I use a simple spreadsheet for this.
I hope you enjoyed these suggestions and please share your tricks with us. It is always a learning curve!
 Dennis Coon, John Mitterer, Psychology: Modules for Active Learning, 2014, p302