If you are anything like me, you often experience the can’t-stay-focused procrastination. The will is there but your brain keeps running away and instead of thinking about German grammar, you end up imagining your future career as a popstar. This can be a huge problem when you really really need to study for that super important exam you have in two days. And as I know and understand this struggle oh too well myself, I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite things to do when I need to get in the study mindset.
Plan ahead & use reward system
One thing that always makes me a little bit more motivated is when I know exactly what I’m supposed to be doing that day. My advice would be to plan ahead; I like to do this on Sundays, usually in the evenings. I take out my little weekly planner, write down all the things I want/need to do and assign them to specific days.
The great thing about my planner is that it has this little ‘reward’ line: use it to think of a thing you want to do and if you manage to complete all your weekly tasks, you can reward yourself! This can be anything from eating some chocolate or ordering takeout to going to see a concert. For this week, my reward is to watch Spies are forever by Tin Can Brothers which I have been wanting to do for such a long time. Fingers crossed I make it!
Helpful tip: Don’t go overboard with your goal-setting. Just write down the main things you really need to do. If you can get more work done – great! But do not set unrealistic goals that you cannot possibly meet. It will only discourage you and you will end up not doing anything at all.
Write down tasks & make up and order in which to do them
So you’ve planned that you will be going over some Italian grammar today. Great! But Italian grammar is a broad subject and there are many little tasks you need to do during this revision. What I like to do is write down all the little tasks I have to do and put them in an order which suits me best. You can also plan some little breaks (e.g. after I finish revising this, I will eat my dinner or watch one episode of this anime).
This is a good thing to do because it means you don’t have to always keep thinking about all the small things you have to do after you finish the current task: you have all of them written down and there is nothing to distract your mind.
Helpful tip: Set up a notebook just for these bullet points. You can tick them all off after you finish them, which is always super satisfying! It will also make you feel proud after you tick off the last task of the day and look at all the work you’ve managed to do that day.
Make your surroundings study friendly
I find that ‘clean space, clear mind’ really does work. If there is a lot of clutter all around you, you get easily distracted and don’t focus on your studying. Even if you have to take some time off to clean up your room a little bit, I promise it will be worth it. You might feel like you’re wasting your time on cleaning your room and that you should be studying but trust me: it will make your study process so much easier that overall you will be gaining time, not losing it.
Helpful tip: Find things that help you concentrate. I recently found out that there is a very specific Yankee candle smell (Vibrant saffron) which really boosts my focus level by a lot. Try to find something that will motivate you: some people like to have books around, or different colour pens.
Coffee, coffee, coffee!
I consider myself a tea person: I always prefer a cup of tea to coffee. That is unless it comes to studying, of course. Recently I found out that having a cup of strong black coffee does amazing things for my concentration: it gives me the exact energy boost I need to get excited about studying. If also paired up with some dark chocolate to snack on during the process, I am invincible!
Helpful tip: Don’t forget to also drink lots of water! Drinking some fresh cold water will only help the energy boost coffee gives you. Plus, you know, being hydrated is cool!
These are my favourite things to do that help me stay focused during an intense study session. There are, of course, many other tips online. Sometimes I like to check out some YouTube study channels, just to give me some inspiration (my current favourites are Ruby Granger, Mariana’s Study Corner and studywithinspo). Additionally, if I’m not doing any active reading but I’m, for example, doing a vocabulary revision, I also find it quite helpful to listen to some classical music (try Spotify, there are many playlists on there).
Please let me know in the comments what are some of your favourite things to do when studying! I am always looking for new tips and tricks to increase my productivity.