You’ve been taking good notes all semester long, you’ve prepared your outlines and key terms. You’ve asked yourself those “killer” questions to enhance your studying, and you’ve answered them. But the test is coming up and you just want to be sure that you’re ready. What are some of the best ways to stay focused while studying?
First, schedule your study time proactively and wisely. Choose times for studying that you know you will be at your best. Don’t allow your study blocks to be during traditional meal times or sleep times, as your brain will be ready to eat and sleep then, not study. Work with your best times and schedule study time, in short segments of 30 minutes or so at a time, and never for more than two hours at a stretch.
When you begin your studying, try to use natural lighting to study by. Natural lighting is much more learning-friendly because your body is programmed to think that it should be productive during this time. Natural lighting enhances our mood, too. Think about it. When you sit in a dark room, what happens? Usually that will mellow you out, but you don’t pay as much attention either. You’re relaxed and winding down mentally. On the other hand, natural lighting perks us up. It feels more “active.” So, this principle can help us stay focused when studying. Study in natural lighting when your mind is productive and paying attention and you’ll get the best results.
Go one step further, if possible. Study in the same “conditions” as you will be testing. If you can train your mind and body not to be nervous while studying in the test conditions, which should be easy to do, then you will be more at ease during the test and that will improve your scores. Can you “match” the temperature, the lighting, and the chairs? Maybe you can even study in the same room as the test will be on occasion. The more at ease you are during the test, the better off you will be, so try to create that same environment while studying and the test will seem just like another study exercise!
But what about the question that parents and students debate all the time? Will listening to music while studying help or hurt you? Studies have shown that listening to soothing music in the background will actually help your studying and keep you focused. Now, how you define soothing and how your parents or roommates define soothing could be a different issue, but the heart of this is on “in the background.” Constantly tweaking the iTunes playlist while studying might prove to be more of a distraction and take away your focus. Keep the music quietly in the background, but focus on the studying. (By the way, the same studies have also shown that floral scented candles can help, too!)
These are just a few staying focused tips. The common denominator in all of them is that you actually have to do the studying. You cannot just think about it. But if you are actively, purposefully, studying for mastery of the material at hand, these tips can be invaluable to keeping your attentions where they need to be while studying, thus increasing your overall performance – the true goal of any studying.
Camille Rodriquez is the owner of Polka Dot Impressions, a social media consulting company. She is also a Homeschooler, the Women’s Pastor at her church, and she has authored a Christian devotional titled, “When I Die – On Being, Living, and Having the Last Word.”
She believes passionately in integrity and intentionality – integrity in living, integrity in business, and personal responsibility to others. Because all that we do leaves an impression, she encourages others to make it a good one!