The Art of Concentration

My career in education has spanned over fourteen years, it would be natural to assume that I’ve become an expert in maintaining concentration. I’m going to be honest, the reality of the situation is that I often find myself staring at the blank wall, completely forgetting I had very important work to get done and staring at the mass of papers on my cork board is doing nothing to help. I think it’s fair to assume most of us are like this. In the world of technology their are millions of distractions just coming from one tiny machine – our phone. (or in my case the wall which is neither new or as interesting as social media).

A few weeks ago, I sat in a ‘tips for revision session’, not going to lie, I was excited for this session. Yes it was aimed at students three years younger than me but skills can be transferred across the years. The only downside? The person running this session graduated university in 1997. Now, this is where everything went wrong. If you want to give students tips on how to concentrate don’t relate the stories back to your educational career because I can guarantee your experience was very different to what we are going through now. Adults like to do this fun thing where they insist that “we have it much better now” “exams were so much harder in our day”. First of all: Don’t listen to these people. They are wrong and misguided. Education isn’t easier, it’s just different. We are more aware that students learn differently and that education cannot be streamlined. Education has become more fair and inclusive. Nevertheless, someone who graduated UNIVERSITY in 1997 (aka 19 years ago) should not be telling me how to revise without getting distracted by my friends wanting to hang out, because you don’t even have to leave your room now to talk to your friends. How anti-social. Needless to say this session was a bit of a disappointment.
I definitely believe university has developed my ability to independently learn. The reality of the situation is if I didn’t do everything independently I wouldn’t be learning very much. So here are a few tips I’ve found that help me study:
A good cup of tea is the way to prepare the mind for studying. Or something like that. Personally, making a cup of tea is a good way to start doing your work. Make a cup, set it down at your desk, open up the computer and your ready to get started. It’s also an excellent break time activity. Want to stop working for five minutes? Make a cup of tea. You leave your work station, move around a bit, and you hopefully get to chat with another human, if your near an animal you probably get to give that a cuddle. When I’m revising I drink so much tea it might be unhealthy, but I always find tea helps in every situation. (Obviously tea doesn’t have to be the drink of choice)
Usually, I work at my desk in my room but recently (as mentioned in the starting paragraph) I’ve found myself getting distracted whilst sat at my desk. As problematic as this is (because I quite like my university room), I have found other areas that are great for working. For some reason this term I’ve found our living room a really good place to work in. In fact, I’m writing this in my lounge. Another good place is the library. Specifically the library in the evening after dinner. I sometimes spend two or three hours there in the evening and then come back to the flat, feeling extremely productive and then I feel happy to spend the rest of the night watching Netflix or hanging out with my flatmates. Obviously, wherever you chose to work, I’ve found my space has to be tidy. A messy work space is so inconvenient and distracting. Tidiness is the key thing here. Work in a tidy area and everything will be fine.
                                                                                      Destroy Social Media.
No, do not study in something that looks like this
Okay this is a bit dramatic but seriously. I have not perfected the “don’t go on social media when working thing” but I’m trying. Just don’t go on it. Tumblr is a dangerous thing and you can scroll mindlessly for hours and not notice. Just don’t.
Don’t work for hours straight. just don’t. Do you remember the tea thing? Yeah go make a drink or get a biscuit. Or lie on your floor for ten minutes and contemplate life. Whatever you want to do, go do it. For my birthday my friend gave me a colouring book which will be my break time activity for revision. The moment you start to feel tired and bored? Move away from your work. It will feel as if you’re wasting time by taking breaks but you will work for much longer. Sometimes as a break I change study locations. I move from my flat to the library. That’s a decent fifteen minute walk.
Doesn’t this look so much better wow.
Do you listen to music or not? To be honest I have no idea. I usually listen to music just because I find silence very distracting. But at the same time I do turn my music off because I need to concentrate in silence. Science probably has something to do with this. Spotify is great thing and I 100% reccomend downloading it, playing a playlist with unknown music is a great way to concentrate because you don’t know the songs and you can find new artists. Multi-tasking right there.
From past experience I’ve found studying with friends often results in conversation and no work. So at university I’ve just avoided it completely, unless we go to the quiet areas in the library because then there is no way for us to talk.
A good biscuit or grape is a good way to go here. If we’re talking about food in general, plan to have really exciting food for lunch and dinner. That way you have something to look forward to.
I love a good set of stationary, nothing gets me more excited to be honest. Just have nice pens and notebooks. it will make everything look and feel better.

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