Focus while studying is a key factor when it comes to productivity.
Last Monday I had a blog post about optimizing your work space to avoid distractions. This week I’m going to cover the ways you can increase your focus, even if you’re in a chaotic environment.
1. Proper Music
Music is one of those things that will either help you or hinder you while you work. It can promote focus and motivation, or it can distract you and cause you to lose progress.
While working, you definitely do not want to listen to music that will put you right to sleep. Feeling tired will mean that you won’t have the energy to block out or deal with distractions.
Music with lyrics can also be very distracting, as our brains are wired to try and interpret language or sounds that we perceive to be language.
The style and speed of the music you listen to will depend on what you are working on and your personal preferences.
In general, I prefer to work while listening to video game soundtracks, as they are specifically designed to keep you focused on whatever it is you’re doing while listening to them.
I find that I tend to write more quickly when listening to faster music, as I have tendency to match my writing pace with the speed of the music I’m listening to.
My writing speed falls between 30 to 50 words per minute, and so faster songs will allow me to type more quickly (around 40 to 50 words per minute) and slower songs will cause me to type more slowly (around 30 words per minute).
2. Energy Levels
As I mentioned before, the more tired you are, the less energy you have to deal with or block out distractions.
When you can’t block out or deal with distractions, you will succumb to them, which will leave you playing video games, watching TV, or surfing social media instead of working on school work.
There are a few things you can do to increase your energy levels, such as getting a proper night of rest, staying hydrated, and increasing the amount of light you get.
Here’s how you can get a better night of sleep:
- Don’t eat anything for a couple of hours before you go to sleep, to prevent nausea and heartburn
- Avoid caffeine for a few hours before you go to sleep
- Don’t start using your phone, laptop, or other devices after you’ve gotten into bed
- Take a melatonin supplement to help with insomnia
- Wake up early and go to bed early
Here’s how you can stay hydrated:
- If you start to feel nauseous, get a headache, start feeling dizzy, or your lips and mouth are dry, drink some water
- Drink a glass of water when you first wake up in the morning
- Keep a glass of water beside your bed in case you become thirsty in the middle of the night
Here’s how you can get lots of light:
- Spend some time outside
- Sit by a large window
- Keep blinds and curtains open during the day
3. Use the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is designed to increase focus during work. It’s very simple to use, and very effective too.
What you do is you set a timer for 25 minutes, and you work for the entirety of that 25 minute period. After you’re finished you put a little tally on a piece of paper.
If you have a multiple of 4 tallies you can take a 15 to 30 minutes break. If not, you can take a 3 to 5 minute break.
If any distractions come up during your work period, you either stop what you’re working on and work on the distraction until it’s no longer a problem, or you see if the distraction can wait until after you’re finished your 25 minute period.
As an example, let’s say that someone wants your help on a problem that they’re having. You ask them if it can wait until your work period is over.
If it can, they know that they won’t have to wait long, and then they will have your undivided attention.
If it can’t, you know that whatever problem they’re having is urgent enough to justify your stop in work.
Of course, the 25 minute work periods, 5 minute short breaks, and 30 minute long breaks are just guidelines.
If you work better for longer periods of time, you could try these instead:
- 30 minutes of work, 5 to 10 minutes short break, 20 to 40 minutes long break
- 45 minutes of work, 10 to 15 minutes short break, 35 minutes to 55 minutes long break
4. Eliminate Distractions
Try to eliminate as many distractions as you possibly can before you begin working.
- Don’t work in the same room as your TV and video game console if you find yourself watching TV or gaming instead of working
- Don’t keep your phone beside you if you find yourself easily distracted by social media, news alerts, and apps
- Use music to block out loud and disruptive noises
- Keep a small snack and a drink beside you in case you need to refuel
5. Reward Yourself
A good way to stay focused is to reward yourself for being focused.
Did you manage to work for 2 hours without getting distracted? Eat a yummy snack.
Did you finish that huge project on time? Watch that movie that you’ve been meaning to watch.
Did you complete your homework or essay without procrastinating? Spend some time playing your favorite video game.
Rewarding yourself for focus and progress will create incentive to continue being focused and productive.
If you found this post helpful, consider leaving a like or comment. I post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, so check back soon for a new blog post.