Last updated on August 29th, 2023.
Whether or not you are a student or an adult, there are many times in your life where you will find that you need to study. Maybe you are learning a new skill or taking a test to further your career. Either way, it is important to have good study habits, so you can stay focused no matter what it is you have to study for.
Staying focused while studying isn’t always easy. But if you take the time to learn the following tips to set yourself up in a good study environment and keep the environment studious for your entire session, you will be surprised at just how much you can accomplish while studying.
Everyone studies differently, and sometimes things that may work for some students may not work for others. So keep reading to learn so tips and tricks that will help you to stay focused while you are studying, whether by yourself or studying in groups or with strangers.
Why is Focusing While Studying so Hard?
So you sit down intending to study for a big test you have coming up later in the week. But the next thing you know, you are scrolling through Facebook and chatting with friends. The point is, staying focused when it is time to study is difficult, and here is why.
There are probably several reasons you can’t focus while trying to study. There are things like distractions (your phone), and sometimes your mind seems to get tired and wander off when you truly are trying to study. But no matter the symptoms, the cause is, all the same, you probably can’t stay focused while studying because you aren’t in the right environment.
Helping your mind continue to focus while studying is nearly impossible when your mind doesn’t have fuel or is in an area where there are constantly other things fighting for its attention. It’s just the way the human mind works. This means you don’t have to worry because you probably aren’t the only person out there who is struggling to focus while studying.
How Do I Stay Focused While Studying?
Now that you’ve come to realize that the reasons you have difficulty studying is because of your environment and its conditions, it is by making changes to that environment that you will find it is easier to stay focused while you study.
11 Tips on How to Stay Focused While Studying
Below are 11 tips to help you stay focused while you study. And if you truly want to achieve success in your next study session, it is highly recommended that you follow all of them to achieve your best results. But remember, everyone studies differently, so some of these tips might work for your study style better than others.
Create a Study Environment
Gone are the days when you could just grab your laptop and set yourself up on the couch. First of all, the living room is a bad place to study, especially when you don’t live alone. This is just inviting people to come to bother you during your study session.
Not to mention that the TV, fridge, and other numerous distractions are all just too close when you are situated in the living room.
Set yourself up for success by finding a quiet room in the house in which to work. It is best if this room has a door that you can close. Then, be sure that you have a surface to work from. Unfortunately, your lap is not ideal. Instead, you will want to look for a clean flat surface that can hold all your materials, such as a desk or table.
Don’t have a table, desk, or room with a door at home? Then you might benefit from going somewhere else to study. Places like the library, or a coffee shop, can be great resources when you know you can’t stay focused enough to study at home.
Know What Noise Level Works For You
As mentioned above, everyone is different. Some people can work with a little background noise, while others need it to be completely silent in order to focus. And there are still others who swear by the power of working to music. If you aren’t sure what level of noise you work best with, now is the time to find out.
Start by trying to work in a completely quiet environment and see how much you get done. You can then repeat the study process in a room with light background noise (like a coffee shop) then again with headphones in. By the end of the third study session, you should know which of the three gave you the best results.
Once you have found your ideal noise level, it is now essential that you put yourself in that same environment every time you need to study—whether this means heading to the library on a daily basis or being sure, you always carry your headphones with you.
Create a Pre-Study Ritual
Humans are creatures of habit, and there are ways you can learn to use this to your advantage. The number one way is by creating a routine or ritual that you will always complete before you begin studying. This will let your body know that it is time to study and help you to stay in the zone.
A good pre-study ritual could be having a healthy snack, making a to-do list for your study session, and putting in your headphones when it is time to get started. Of course, yours will vary based on your study style, but whatever you come up with, make sure you do it each and every time before you begin studying. It differs when comparing to in-person vs online studying too.
The number one reason you probably struggle to study is the distractions in and around your study area. And this includes your cell phone and distracting websites that you like to browse on your computer.
Do yourself a favor, and block all of these distractions. Yes, this means leaving your phone in another room and blocking YouTube on your laptop. It might seem difficult at first, but you will be absolutely floored by how much you are able to get done.
There are some apps and features that can help you with this. For example, you can place an iPhone on ‘do not disturb mode for the entire length of your study session. Additionally, there are website blockers for your computer that can perform a similar function for distraction websites.
As much as you may think it is a good idea to sit down and study for five hours straight for your math exam, this is actually not ideal. The human brain works best when work is pieced into 20–30-minute increments with short and quick breaks in between.
This doesn’t mean you get to unblock YouTube after only 30 minutes of studying. Instead, you should strive to do something quick and active, like stand for a few minutes and stretch, or maybe lean back in your chair and have a few sips of water. Just enough time for your brain to take a break without losing track of your focused mindset.
Space Out Study Sessions
Just as you should take small breaks frequently, you also shouldn’t study for too many hours on end. Instead, commit to studying one task or subject for an hour, maybe two, then taking a prolonged break. This allows your brain time to rest and the information time to sink in.
Additionally, at the beginning of your next study session, you can start by quizzing yourself on what you studied in the last session. This way, you can see if the method you are using works, or if maybe you need to study a different way.
While this tip isn’t one that can really help during your study session, it is a lifestyle change that can help your focus overall. This is because eating a diet low in sugar and high in veggies is naturally better for your brain and will make it much easier for you to focus.
Plus, you should never try to study on an empty stomach because you will be thinking about food and have difficulty focusing. Always keep some fruit or veggies on hand to have as a before or during study snack to keep your brain fed.
And as tempting as it is to drink things like soda, juice, or coffee, it really is best for your brain if you drink water during study sessions. Water helps keep your brain hydrated without adding extra sugar to your diet. Always keep a bottle of water near your study station for easy access whenever you need it.
This is another one that is more of a lifestyle tip, but exercising can help you to focus better while you study. This is because exercise helps to get all your energy out, making it easier to sit for longer periods of time.
Also, exercising releases endorphins that are important to your brain and mood. Releasing these endorphins on a regular basis will help you to have a healthier mind overall, which will definitely come in handy when it comes time to study. For best results, you should try to exercise for 30 minutes each day, preferably before you study, or in between study sessions during a scheduled break.
Check Tasks Off Your To-Do List As You Go
As mentioned in tip 3, it is a good idea to make a to-do list of everything you need to do during a study session. This will help you to stay on track while you study and give you a road map to check your progress.
Just be sure you check items off your to-do list as you go because this is essential to feeling accomplished and keeping your motivation levels high—especially during longer study sessions. Just wait until you get to cross the last thing off the list—you will feel great!
Use Hands-On Study Tools
Sitting at your desk staring at a book is not the ideal way for anyone to study. Rather, you should work to find as many hands-on tools to studying as you can. This means creating flashcards or helpful charts to help you study.
This is also a good time to organize the information you need to know and use memory tools for the really difficult things that you just need to memorize. Sometimes talking out loud can help you to reiterate something you are trying to remember. Just be careful using this approach at your local coffee shop and library because you might get weird looks!
Organize a Study Group
Although most people typically study better alone, there are subjects or occasions when it can be helpful to have someone around to help. This is especially true when studying a foreign language.
Just be sure that you and the others in the group are truly committed to studying during your session. It may help set a timer and say only class-related things until the timer goes off and the session is over. You will also want to follow all the other tips on this list and find an environment that works for everyone and isn’t too distracting.
Again, some people study better when someone else is there to hold them accountable. But if you know that you will not be able to focus on studying in a group environment, then you are better off skipping this tip.
In conclusion, no matter what type of student you are or what subject you are studying, it is highly likely you are having trouble focusing because you aren’t setting yourself up for success. Put a stop to this immediately, and start employing the 11 tips on this list in your life to help you stay focused during your next study session and get the most from your study time.
If music helps you focus. Here’s an article on the best music to help you focus.