What can I do about my problem with concentrating?
I’ve always had problem with concentrating for an extended period of time. Whenever I try to study, there are always things that distract me from studying: my phone, my laptop, the external scenery, etc. I also tend to have ideas pop up in my mind when I try to focus: they could be thoughts about what I should do the next day, an issue I have been thinking about, or any other completely random thing. I find this situation a bit out of control lately, and really worry that it might affect my performance in the coming exams.
Thanks for your question – you are not alone, many students experience difficulties with concentration. There are, however, things you can do to help improve your focus and efficiency. Firstly it’s important to know your strengths – when and where do you tend to get the most work done? It’s important to find the time and place that you can best get in the groove with study. Next it’s important to minimize distractions – what are your most common distractions? If it is social media you may want to keep your phone in your bag or remove some apps, of course there are also apps that block apps at particular times of the day as well. For example see Cold Turkey.
You could do an experiment to find out for how long you can focus. See if you can work for 10 minutes without getting up, your mind will wander, but bring it back and keep working. Then slowly increase your study times. A technique used by some students is the pomodoro technique. You can find more information about this technique here.
In addition, to these techniques keep the big picture in mind. If your physical or mental health are neglected your focused attention is likely to suffer. Sleep, exercise and diet are all vital to good attention!
Finally, if you want to put some time into training your brain for enhanced attention; I would suggest that you try mindfulness meditation. There is evidence that this practice can lead to a number of benefits including enhanced sustained attention. Our website has some audio files you might find useful and can be found here.
You are also welcome to talk to one of our Service’s Counsellors.