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August 9, 2022
In today’s fast-moving world of technology and entertainment, it can be hard to know what to do first and stay on task when you have things to get done. When you need to start studying for a test or get some work done, more often than not you are sitting at home with no accountability. This means no teachers watching over your shoulder, making sure you aren’t watching viral videos or working on your online shopping cart. Staying focused can seem impossible sometimes with so many options of distraction around us. On top of that, these distractions also contribute to a decrease in our sleep schedules and affect our daily routines overall. These tips will be helpful when you are studying for your next proctored exam. Learning how to stay focused is a life-long habit that will benefit you overall.
A common cause of distraction is our constant use of technology and being online. Whether we are staring at our computer screens, iPads, televisions or phones, there is rarely a moment when we truly disconnect. The constant social media updates, notifications going off, TikTok and Instagram reels, or emails to check can accumulate to a lot of daily screen time. Go check your own screen time in your phone settings right now, you might be shocked to see a number higher than you would expect. Besides online distractions, if you are trying to study at home then you have unlimited access to the kitchen for snack breaks, friendly pets to play with, or even kids running around the house. We decide to do some laundry, or quickly vacuum the rug, the next thing you know it’s been hours since you cracked a book!
Inadequate amounts of good sleep also affect our ability to concentrate and stay focused during the day. The average adult needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night, anything less than this is linked to poor physical and mental health, and your body does not get enough time to go through the cycles of sleep and proper rest and recovery. Screentime is a huge deterrent when it comes to people getting to bed on time, as we all know about the late-night hours of scrolling paralysis and tv show binges.
A poor diet and unhealthy food choices are other factors which will affect how you feel mentally. If you are not fueling your body with essential nutrients and energizing whole foods each day, your brain will not be functioning smoothly. Your body needs energy, as well as plenty of water, to keep functioning properly and not crash. That might mean replacing your second and third coffee of the day with herbal tea or water with fruit in it.
Eliminate distractions. This starts with limiting technology and social media apps. Try setting up timers or locks on your devices during the day so you aren’t tempted to scroll through. Also, have a separate email account that you use for personal things, and only check your work or school email during your working hours. Silence your notifications so you are not tempted to check on things unrelated to your tasks.
Have a peaceful designated workstation. It Is also important to make sure that your workspace is free from distraction as well. Wherever you choose to set up this spot, it should be a quiet and simple space where you can be alone. It should have adequate lighting, a door to close and be clean and simple. Some people like to listen to white noise or brown noise, which can be a calming tool to help a racing mind zone in on a task.
Prioritize your sleep and eating. Sleep is one of the most important factors that will improve your concentration levels. This is how your entire body runs, and without adequate sleep, you will not be at peak functioning levels. This goes for healthy eating as well. Having whole, non-processed foods in your day will sustain you and keep your mind sharp. Prioritizing exercise throughout the week is also important for mental health and regulating stress and anxiety levels. Good food and exercise will also make sleeping at night easier. Cut out screen time an hour before bed, and try unwinding with a book, quiet chats with a loved one, or some meditation. Having a bedtime routine every night will help regulate your body to have a normal sleep pattern.
Schedule your day with a routine. Even if your day isn’t always the same, create your own personal routine that you stick to as best you can every single day. This means waking up at the same time each day, and maybe taking 15 minutes to yourself to journal or have a coffee on the porch. Set allotted times throughout the day to take breaks, which could include eating, a walk around the block, or calling a friend for a quick chat. By scheduling these types of things into your day, you already know that you will be doing them and you will be less tempted to stray from your study session.
Practice mindfulness and don’t multitask. When we have multiple projects to work on, emails to send, or classes to attend, the urge to multi-task in an attempt to get more done faster is very strong. This is actually making you more stressed and getting less done than if you just worked on one thing at a time. Giving one task your entire attention instead of giving 3 tasks each a little attention will result in more efficient work, fewer mistakes, and much less mental stress and headaches. Take a deep breath and take things one step at a time. There will always be new concepts to learn, and studying is never truly done. Know when to give your complete focus, but also when to log off and take a break.
Staying focused is something that just about everyone struggles with in their life. When you pinpoint what it is that is hindering your concentration, these tips are an excellent place to start changing your daily habits and routines. These can even be implemented in small steps, and by just choosing one or two things on this list to start including in your life, you might notice a difference not only in your study sessions but also your ability to focus during your next proctored exam at Ashton Testing Services.Written by Ashley Fazekas