So, your exams are about to commence, but you still have untouched notes, books, and slides. Everyone wants a small edge while studying that could help them get better grades.
But surprisingly, there is a minuscule percentage of students who like to study or gain knowledge. Most of them study because they want to get good grades. However, if you don’t like doing something, keep doing it for hours and with full concentration can be challenging.
Assuming that you belong to the second category of students, let’s dive into 7 easy steps to study long hours without losing concentration.
Schedule difficult topics during the day
Unless you’re not a night owl, you’ll lose focus and concentration as the day passes. No matter how much coffee you drink, you’ll start feeling mentally exhausted towards the end of the day. So, take up the difficult topics, chapters, or subjects in the forenoon when you’re at your best. Prioritizing your schedule ensures your energy at different points during a day matches the difficulty of the task. This way, you’ll be left with easier chapters for the evening, so they’ll be easy to finish.
Contrarily, if you take up easy topics early during the day, you’ll finish them with ease. It will give you a false sense of progress. But by the time you reach difficult stuff, it will be evening, and you’ll be left with little or no energy to study. You’ll most likely procrastinate it for the next day. And this will disrupt your study schedule. So, take up difficult topics or chapters first and the easy ones later.
Exercise? Where did that come from in between studying? Research has suggested that physical exercise boosts cognitive abilities, such as learning ability and long-term memory. Besides, it helps in controlling anxiety and depression as well. But what’s more important is that it improves concentration, alertness, and motivation.
Moreover, the effects of exercise are almost instantly visible. Exercising between your study sessions could help you last longer and get more out of your study. However, not all exercises produce the same result. Studies suggest that 20-30 minutes of rigorous, cardiovascular exercise is the best. But don’t overdo it and hurt yourself.
Take a quick nap
Yes, you can sleep. NASA performed a study in which pilots who took a 26-minute nap increased their awareness by 34% and reaction times by 16%. Besides, if you take a small nap during the day, you can avoid performance slacks. So, you can study at a high intensity and concentration even in the latter half of the day.
However, make sure your nap is small. It should be no longer than 30-40 minutes. Sleeping for longer can put you into a deep sleep, and you might find it difficult to wake up.
Eat to maintain energy levels
While the brain makes up for just 2% of your body mass, it consumes 20% of your daily energy intake. And research suggests that mentally exhausting, non-pleasurable tasks, like studying, can drain your energy fast.
Thus, it is critical to eat the right foods at regular intervals to maintain energy levels. Eat large amounts of low GI foods, like oats, porridge, yogurt with seeds, low-fat dairy, soups, etc. These foods release energy glucose in your bloodstream and maintain energy levels for a longer period. Avoid eating high GI foods like pizza, burger, bread, chocolate, cookies, etc. These foods will increase your energy levels fast, but the energy will soon be drained out. As a result, you’ll feel fatigued and drowsy.
Conserve your energy
As discussed, your brain consumes more energy than the body mass it constitutes (2% vs. 20%). Thus, it is important to not waste the limited energy you have on irrelevant thoughts, such as:
- Why can’t I study?
- Will my friends score more than me?
- Why did she behave so rudely?
- Am I going to fail?
And the list goes on. Your brain is a factory of thoughts, both negative and positive. Luckily, you’re the manager, and you can take control of them as you wish. So, get rid of such thoughts as soon as they cross your mind. A quick way to do this is by count up to three as soon as a thought comes up in your mind and then divert it elsewhere. Everyone has wandering thoughts, but the way to way manage them can go a long way in conserving your mental energy.
Take breaks regularly
When you create your study schedule for the day, be sure to add breaks in it. Have you ever thought why we switch off a TV or AC for a while in between instead of keeping them on all day long?
Your brain is quite similar to a machine. It stores and processes your thoughts, memory, etc. And like any other machine, it needs rest. So, taking breaks not only relaxes you, but it also restores your concentration.
Studies suggest that an average human starts losing focus after 50 minutes. If you keep stretching yourself beyond, you might start losing concentration and end up wasting time. Thus, take a 5 or 10-minute break after every 40-50 minutes study session.
During the break, do anything but study. Walk around your room, listen to a song, get quick exercise, eat something (healthy), or more. Also, take a long break of 20-30 minutes after three to four 50-minute sessions. You can use this break to work out, go out for a walk, have lunch, etc.
Study during the daylight
As mentioned before, you should take up difficult tasks earlier during the day and easier stuff towards the end. And, you can take your concentration and productivity to a whole new level if you study in natural daylight.
Some of you who live in apartments or flats might not have this luxury, but if you can, try studying in daylight. Research indicates that studying or working in daylight in the forenoon can make you less drowsy and more alert in the afternoon. If a corner of your room receives sunlight, pull your table and chair to that area. However, that doesn’t mean you need to sit under direct sunlight. If your room is lit naturally, it’s good enough.
Cut off distractions
It’s obvious how distractions can have an adverse effect on your study. Imagine starting a morning with motivation and determination. You wake up early, take a bath, eat your breakfast, and plan your day. You schedule difficult lessons first and easier ones for later. After planning everything, you start studying. But after ten minutes, your phone receives a notification. It’s a message from your best buddy. You reply back and end up chatting for 10 minutes. Thus, you wasted 10 minutes of your time.
Then, you study for another 15 minutes when your phone receives a notification again. This time, it’s from YouTube stating that your favorite YouTuber has uploaded a new video. You can’t resist watching it, so you waste another 15 minutes. You are about to finish the video when you get a message from a pretty girl in your class. She has a doubt with a couple of questions, so you spend another 15 minutes helping her.
In 60 minutes, you studied for 20 minutes and wasted 40 minutes. And it happens with all of us. Mobile phones, video games, etc. all try to distract us from our studies. And the best way to deal with distractions is to get rid of them. If your mobile phone distracts you, switch it off and keep it in the drawer. If your TV distracts you, go and study in some other room.
Studying effectively is a daylong process that needs strategy and planning. Create a funnel-like study schedule, keeping difficult tasks on the top and easy ones towards the end. Also, don’t forget to take breaks and eat healthily.