You’re trying to work on a new blog post, in the middle of taking a half-hour break from studying for your midterm in a couple days. Then you suddenly remember that your friend texted you an hour ago and you forgot to reply so you tell yourself “okay, just really fast. Then I’ll study. It’ll only take two seconds”
Thirty minutes later, you find yourself staring at the time on your phone in the middle of scrolling through pictures on Instagram. It’s 9:00, you have a class at 8:30 AM and no time tomorrow to study for your test the day after! Where did time go? And how on earth are you going to finish studying for your test?
Most of us who are working adults have a million things going on in our minds at once- what do we need to work on, what are we going to eat, who posted what pictures, what events are going on during the week, what errands we need to run, and so on. There are only (emphasis on only here) 24 hours * 7 = 168 hours for us to get everything done, with a few hours to spare and do nothing. Most of the times, anything seems more appealing than working on something that is stressful. How do we focus and get our work done on time?
These are some tips and tricks that I found really worked for me to get stuff done without driving myself crazy
1.Keep a glass of water with you while you are working
I’m sure I’m not the only one with a bad habit of stress eating. I usually feel myself wanting to eat something when I’m having trouble with something, and usually what I end up eating is not fruits and vegetables. If you are nerd like me whose taken plenty of biology and psychology classes, you know that sometimes hunger pangs don’t always mean that you are hungry. Especially if you stress eat these can develop as a compensatory response. Having a glass of water nearby will help curb that hunger, but will also keep you sustained so you can keep studying
2. Stand while you study
This is something I found really helped me stay alert and focused on what I was doing, and this works especially well for people who are tired or haven’t gotten much sleep. When you are sitting down, you tend to hunch over your work, but when you are standing, you are forced to keep your back straight and are less likely to relax and potentially fall asleep over your papers and books.
3. Studying in short bursts
Any time you take on the task of focusing something for more than an hour, it’s really easy to give up after about 30 minutes and want to do something different. If you don’t feel like focusing on something, the likeliness is you won’t end up focusing and you won’t learn anything worthwhile- it will end up being a waste of time. Plan to study so that you work on each task for about 30-50 minutes at a time. Give yourself breaks, and in that time, work on something else.
4. Productive break time
No, this doesn’t always mean taking a break from one thing to work on something else- but doing that can certainly help you move things along faster. But most of us spend our off-moments (standing in line at the coffee shop, waiting for the professor to start lecturing in class, long bus rides, etc) staring at our phones. My guess is that when most of us are working, we are staring at a computer screen. Put together, this is a lot of time staring at a screen leaving us almost no time to actually observe and enjoy the world around us. If you ever find yourself feeling like your eyes are strained and tired, instead of taking a break to scroll through your social media feed, try going outside, or turning off your phone and talking to your friends for 5-10 minutes. Doing this is far more productive then continuing to strain your eyes while staring at your phone because it gives you time to work on other parts of your life without physically hurting any part of you.
5.Breathing and Meditation exercises
Anyone who knows me personally knows that until this quarter, I’ve never been able to take a yoga instructor seriously when they are giving breathing instructions to their class- I’d only ever burst out laughing at the instructor telling me to ‘breathe out and breathe back in clean air into my soul’ or something other of the same type. But recently I started taking a class in which start each 50 minute lecture with a short breathing exercise. All we do is focus on our breathing for a few seconds, and I have to say it really helps. Your breathing is effortless, and when you completely focus on something so effortless and purposefully let go of other thought, you are able to focus on the most important thing at the moment with purpose. Getting into meditation can be hard at first, but it really does work. I would recommend trying to find exercises online or trying a yoga class nearby and learning to meditate! The practices they teach you in those classes are ones you can apply on your own too, whenever you might need to.
These are my tips for learning to improve focus! If you have any of your own, make sure you comment them so other readers can see as well!