There is nothing harder than knowing that you have a boat load of studying that needs to get done fast–and you just can’t seem to keep yourself on task. Below, I offer six different tactics and strategies that I find helpful in gaining and maintaining focus.
- Use the Pomodoro Method
I love the Pomodoro Method and I use it almost every day. The Pomodoro Method is a strategy of doing focused sprints of work. Originally developed by Francesco Cirillo in the eighties, the Pomodoro method is based on the hypothesis that focused sprints of work, interrupted by short breaks increases productivity. A typical Pomodoro is twenty-five minutes long, followed by a five minute break. A typically Pomodoro cycle is four Pomodoros–at the end of the forth twenty-five minute sprint session, you take a fifteen minute break. However, your Pomodoros can be as long as you want–I know some individuals who use twenty minute sprints, others who use ninety. Recently, I’ve been using a fifty/ten split, and taking a short brisk walk on my ten minute breaks. The key is the focused sprints–staying totally on task for whatever amount of time works for you, and then taking a short break.
2. Take a Walk
I’ve been using this strategy a lot lately. I’ve found that a minimum of ten minutes of walking is what lets me get that endorphin release–that feel good high you get from working out. Typically, I take a walk during my Pomodoro breaks, but getting up to stretch your legs is also a great lunch time break activity–especially if it gets you outside and soaking up some sunshine. Inside at the library all day, particularly if the lighting isn’t good can cause depression, decreases in productivity, etc. etc. Taking a quick walk is a good way to break up your day, and it allows you to reset mentally for when you sit back down.
3. Use a Standing Desk
Everyone is talking about how sitting is the new death trap. But, using a standing desk is good for more than just your health. Using a standing desk increases productivity. According to an article published on Business Insider, standing desks increase overall productivity by ten percent. The article argued that standing provokes a sense of urgency in you that causes you to focus on completing the tasks. It also noted that using a standing desk can lead to higher energy levels, fewer headaches, and increased focus.
4. Drink Water
Americans are almost universally dehydrated. Dehydration can cause a feeling of general tiredness and tiredness is almost always tied to lack of focus. It makes sense. Your brain is about seventy-five percent water. Drinking water and staying hydrated while working can improve your overall energy level and thus your level of focus.
5. Change Your Location
Sometimes working in the same place for hours or even days at a time can be detrimental to your focus and productivity. Changing your location even for a few hours can serve as an opportunity for a mental reset. So, take your work to a coffee shop, new spot in the library, or if you are gifted with good weather, maybe even outside. The key is to allow yourself to refocus on what it is you’re trying to get done.
6. Listen to Focus Music
Finally, if you are an individual who can concentrate with a little bit of background noise, you might want to try putting on focus music or the video game music channel on Pandora. These types of music are written specifically to keep you engaged for hours at a time without being distracting.