“Self-awareness is your only answer to improve concentration”
Do you think you have short attention span? Do you find your brain hovering around in all directions during a lecture, while you study? This is a common and most asked problem that I encounter with people – How to study?. They lack concentration and their ability to focus? If this is your problem as well, stick to this article and make sure you FOCUS!
Dissecting the problem before you find solutions:
Humans have this tendency to find solutions to their problems even before they realise what the problem actually is. I am sure this happens with you. Our brain fools us into finding an escape. You do not try to confront problems through a spectator’s view. Rather you fall victim to them and succumb to this spiral of quick fix.
The main reason – Why you lack concentration?
You are reading this article through a mobile phone or a laptop. You have your answer there. Mobile phones and plethora of information is killing your concentration especially when you study. If your brain is filled with all sorts of information, you will not focus on the thing that deserves your attention. Distraction is not your only enemy to focus, overstimulation is equally responsible as well.
The charger of your phone is draining the battery of your life:
I love technology. But I have problems with irresponsible use of technology. The inventions which are meant to ease out your life are actually making your life difficult. Take a break from screens, from your phone and do nothing. Does this make you restless? It will surely do. Most of us have lost our comfort with solitude. Better said, phones have become a instant hit of dopamine for us. But little do you know, these screens are killing them receptors, making you an addict. An addict to more dosage, more exposure to content, mediocre content to be precise.
Abundance of information is a blessing in disguise:
Information at tips of your hand is godsend. But exposure to all sorts of information is tiring for your brain and your neurological pathways. As a student your time is limited. And I know for a fact, you are not able to study because your brain is already overwhelmed with entertainment, content, memes, relationships and so on. None of us are good at multitasking. We just switch our activities very quick and name it multitasking.
However, my question to you is. How efficient are you at all those things? How much order have you been able to set your chaotic life in order?
I have explained you the problem in details and now let’s dive into solutions.
Beware: These will not be quick fix. The solutions will not work instantaneously. After all, great things take time. But rest assured, if you introduce the routine that I am about to tell you in next section, you will not only become a great student but a great individual as well.
Quick fixes are a scam, use this routine instead:
This is a common practise among students to uninstall social media apps from their phones prior to a week of exams or to focus when they study. Do these apps have such amount of influence on your brain that in order to focus on your goal you have to get rid of them? Even if this tactic proves to be helpful. I damn very well know it that these apps find space in your phone again once your exams are over.
I am not against social media but I am completely against your reliance on them
However, let us discuss the routine which will help you improve your concentration in the long run. You have to be persistent and do these daily otherwise these will not work.
- Limit your time on screens:
As easy as it sounds, it turns out to be one of the biggest challenges. Use the Digital wellbeing section of your phone settings. Yes, your device has this setting which monitors your daily usage of mobile phone. Once you have the usage statistics, which you will be shocked at. Try to make gradual decrease in the time. Don’t cut your phone off completely. Chances to relapse are very high if you make drastic changes all of a sudden. This is a great help when you study and need your maximum focus
Most of your actions are unconscious. In simplified terms, your brain controls you when it should be the other way around. How to be self-aware then. It is simple. Start monitoring your actions and practise mindfulness. One way to induce mindfulness in your life is through meditation which I will talk about in details later
Before you start judging me, hear me out. When I talk of meditation, I am not referring to block thoughts and chant mantras. There are multiple types of meditation and each type has its own distinct benefit. The meditation I am specifically talking about here is tratak and mindfulness. I will cover both of these exercises extensively in the next section.
So far, I have discussed three factors which appears to be trivial. But it is these small changes that makes 80% of your life. A big action might prove to be helpful in short run. In long run however, if you do not fix your everyday actions, sooner or later problems will surface and they might as well mutate.
Let us encapsulate once again:
- Monitoring your usage of mobiles/laptop/T.V. etc.
- Monitoring your unconscious actions and inculcating self-awareness
- Meditating and using exercises to your advantage which will not only improve your concentration but you overall well being
Meditation, study and concentration:
Before I even start to talk about meditation, I want you to perform a simple exercise. Find a wall clock and focus on its second hand. Keep doing it until your focus breaks. How long were you able to focus on it? A minute, a second, ten seconds? Did you see how easily your mind flickers when you try to focus on a particular activity. You might have noticed a few people in your life which give a blank stare to walls, objects near to them. Whether consciously or sub consciously, they are practising tratak while doing that blank stare. Tratak is obviously much deeper than blank stare but to keep it simple, you guys just now performed it as well.
Remember our clock observation exercise? This one simple exercise can do wonders for your concentration and focus levels. Try doing it with different objects and observe how long are you able to focus. With time your focus will surely improve.
Friendly tip: Choose anything to perform this exercise on but an unknown stranger. You can surely perform it on them as well if the word ‘creep’ is a compliment for you.
I am joking DON’T!
Sharpening your concentration through mindfulness:
I have explained mindfulness in lot of depth in this article (inbound link). However, I will brief you here as well. Mindfulness is about being mindful and feeling sensations in your body. It is a general practise to focus on breathing when you get started with meditation. Reason being, to tame your mind and make it more aware.
Researches of prestigious institutions such as Harvard, oxford and Cambridge have found a common link between studies and mindfulness i.e. it has helped students with their focus and studies. Retention power of students was found to be increased by 20-26% on an average.
Mindfulness meditation is your sure and tested way to your neural capabilities and have them to work for your betterment.
Balance your diet, balance your life:
You never have to walk extreme paths in most of the circumstances of life. Do you know the type of food you consume effects your life as well? Eat fresh fruits and you will see the difference in your life within days. No matter how much tips and tricks you follow. If your body is not in its apt shape and you are not providing it enough nutrients, you can not expect your brain to do sole wonders. Limit fried food and Raju bhaiya ke momos once in a while and try to eat fruits, veggies. Perhaps a diet filled with adequate distribution of macro nutrients
Fix your sleeping patterns:
I am not trying to parent you but what sort of skills do you acquire surfing through Instagram in late night? Your body need it’s time to rejuvenate. Your brain is only able to secrete growth hormones in your body while you sleep.
So sleep and sleep in night!
Hedonism is an irresistible catastrophe:
We all love pleasures. Nothing is better than short term pleasure. But you have to understand, babies, you will make sacrifices. Its completely up to you, whether you make them now or later in your future when you approach your thirties. I don’t intend to scare you. The age you are in has the least responsibilities on you. As you grow, you become more independent but responsibilities are directly proportional to your freedom.
Study is surely one boring aspect of life and you hear it enough. You do not have to be a topper. But you will have to save yourself from pleasures and directionless pursuits which kill your time. Try playing a guitar, learn to dance, learn to write. You will need focus and concentration for these activities as well.