7 Tips on How to Stay Focused in College

Staying focused in college is complicated. It involves your diet, your friends, your field of study, your environment, and your preexisting knowledge. Do you have a regular sleep routine? Do you drink too much coffee? Are your friends and family helping or distracting you? Are you using RescueTime?

1. Study in Silence

Research shows that people who study in silence outperform people who study with increasing amounts of noise. Music is only a good idea before you actually start studying. Use music to boost your mood before sitting down but silence is better while you learn. While studying in silence use ear muffs for eliminating distractions – like a dog barking or car traffic from the outside.

2. Manage Your Time

It will be increasingly difficult to focus if you have too much to learn and no time to do it. Study in small bite-size chunks over a long time. During the day study 25-minutes at a time using the Pomodoro technique. Take a five-minute break and study for another 25-minutes. Repeat 4 times for a longer break of 15-minutes. As long as you want. But do this every day. A couple of hours every day is not overwhelming is enjoyable and will allow you to focus.

3. Control Your Study Environment

If possible do not mix your study with your entertainment environment. It’s easier to focus when you’re away from the kitchen. You won’t be tempted to get snacks. Alternatively, if you’re away from your home entertainment system (console or tv) you’ll also have an easier time focusing because the temptation won’t simply come up. In fact, one study with marketing students found that people who sat closer to the front of the class had better grades than students in the back.

4. Eat Healthily and Diversely

Ever have a lot of meat after a grill or an entire pack of cookies? You may have noticed that you get very sleepy as a result. In the case of the latter, this is due to reactive hypoglycemia. An easy way to prevent this is to eat a balanced diet.

5. Growth Mindset

Mistakes are how we learn. Approach college as a learning opportunity. Learn to embrace failure as a normal natural part of growing. Making a mistake is an honest signal that you do not know. Which perversely is in fact the first step in getting smarter.

This is in essence having a growth mindset. Recognizing the mistakes as opportunities for growth. If a topic is hard then it simply means you’ve found something you can get good at. Other people will struggle too. The difference is who will give up? The person who doesn’t will succeed.

6. Love What You Study or Find a Way to Love It

It’s easier to focus if you approach your homework with curiosity. Instead of thinking I have 20 pages to get through, think, in these 20 pages there might be something interesting or useful I could learn.

7. Lack of Focus Can Be Caused by Lack of Understanding

If you struggle with focus in college it might be because you’re anxious or you’re reading something that’s beyond your skill level. It’s difficult to stay focused if you have to check every word in a sentence. This brings us back to our earlier point that you need to manage your time so you have the capacity to learn new vocabulary in a text.

8. Create Checklists and Use Timeblocks Instead of To-Do Lists

We are only human. We have a limited amount of working memory. This means we have a limited ability to store information temporarily. If you have a lot of responsibilities then a good idea is to simply write down what you need to do and in what order you need to do them.

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