As I’m sure you’re aware by now, I am currently studying. Attempting to study. Okay thinking about study. Okay, you got me, I’m procrastinating from studying by writing a blog about how to motivate yourself to study. The irony am I right?
But, in all seriousness, when I know the pedal needs to hit the metal, or more accurately the fingers need to hit the keys, these are my top ten tips to get that happening.
- Clean every inch of my workspace. At first glance, this may seem counter-productive but trust me that 30 minutes (or if you’re as messy as I am the hour) you spend cleaning that workplace will pay you back tenfold in blissful concentration. Tidy workspace = a tidy mind that is organised and ready to soak in all that knowledge and spit it back out in beautiful, almost Shakespearean-esque writing that your lecturers will weep with joy to read. Maybe.
- Aromatherapy. When I am sitting at my already spotlessly clean work desk (see above) and I can feel that “I’ve been working for 15 minutes straight” slump coming on, a nice smelling pick me up can be the trick to shove me back into concentration mode. For some people, this is a candle (I would recommend fresh scents like tomato leaf or citrus as opposed to cosy, sleep inducing vanillas and lavenders) but for me personally it’s a scented face spray. My current favourite is this vitamin C spray from the Bodyshop Find it here!. It’s a double whammy of gorgeous, revitalising citrus scent and also a refreshing mist of cool water that can snap you out of a concentration funk.Warning: Spraying this on your face can become very addictive.
- Classical music. This won’t work for everyone, I know people who cannot stand working with any sort of noise whatsoever, I tend to flick between these two views depending on my mood. Sometimes the soothing sounds of Mozart of Beethoven can just hum the afternoon away while I work really well. I could never work work work work work to Rihanna (despite that fact that I adore the woman) but I can essay write to Plachabel any day.
- Hydration. Staying hydrated is so important. This is very much pot calling the kettle black here because I am the worst at remembering to drink water, but a trick I’ve found is to have a glass or water bottle that you actually enjoy using. I recently bought some totally Pinterest drinking jars from Kmart (total bargain) and because I like the glasses I’m much more likely to want to use them and drink water. This then hydrates my body meaning I can concentrate!
- Exercise. I’m definitely an exercise noob but having worked out in the mornings now for just over six months I can confidently say that I notice a difference when I do not do this. I’m a member of the toneitup.com programme and they post free weekly workout schedules on their website which I am a huge fan of. It takes all the guess work out, I know I’m working out effectively and I get my endorphins every morning. It also helps me feel like I’ve achieved something before I’ve even had a shower or breakfast which is a really empowering way to start the day.
- Visualisation. Sometimes if you have a huge thesis or essay looming in front of you it’s just too daunting to start. Visualisation is such a powerful tool where you take 5-10 minutes to sit quietly with your eyes closed and just imagine yourself finishing your work at a specific time. Really feel it and try to imagine as much detail as you possibly can. Studies actually show that this makes you much more likely to achieve what you’re visualising than someone who does not do this.
- Eating well. This ties in with exercise and drinking as being healthy in general are good for concentration. As tempting as it is try to leave the chocolate biccies as a reward for after you’ve nailed your assignment. When you’re studying you should be snacking on fruit and nuts, things with long, slow burning energy sources that will keep you going for longer without the spikes and crashes from high sugar foods like chocolate. However once you’ve finished your work… 😉
- Take breaks! This may seem like an odd one but I find that I can only study for max 50 minutes at a time before I need a break. The trick is not to let your break turn into the rest of the afternoon off. Try to set a time for 10-15 minutes so you can chill, read my blog, watch a youtube video, whatever you want but as soon as that timer hits you need to get right back into it! There are apps out there to help you, a friend of mine recommended Pomodoro which is really useful at structuring your study and break times.
- Make your non-study time actually relaxing. This is super important for me. When I do decide I am done for the day I make a conscious effort not to pick up or think about my work again. I make sure that I hang out with my boyfriend, read a book or watch a TV show (currently Vikings FYI) so that I’m not subconsciously still trying to work on my assignment. This can be easier said that done but when you feel like your downtime genuinely is downtime it’s much easier to get back into work mode when you feel genuinely refreshed and ready to go.
- Last but not least, be organised. It’s so hard to study off notes that are all over the place or from bits of paper or when you can’t find the information you need. Always make a plan before you begin your study session so you know what you’re there to achieve, what you need to do it and give yourself a goal of say “I want to write my first paragraph by 11am” so that you have some sort of structure and goal to work towards. When I don’t do this I find I end up going over a lot of the same ground or not really achieving much in comparison to when I sit down to my study with a plan of action and a specific goal that I can feel successful when I have achieved it.
I hope these ten tips help any of you who, like me, are currently battling through work or assignments and can find it quite easy to drift off topic. Speaking of which I suppose I had better take some of my own advice!
Let me know what helps you to get into your concentration zone 🙂