Tips on maintaining focus on your studiesChen Wan Lim
The key culprit to losing focus on either your studies or work is often distraction. Distractions come in many different forms, be it your electronic gadgets, unfinished business, noise, plans after work or even a hungry stomach. A survey by Virgin Pulse noted that 95% of employees are distracted during the workday. Another study from the Journal of Media Education also reported that students are getting more distracted than ever – they tend to check their digital devices, particularly, their smartphones, an average of 11.43 times during class for non-classroom activities. For candidates pursuing an MBA or a master’s degree course, especially for working adults, staying focus in class and during studies is crucial to optimise whatever limited time you have during the day. Here are some tips from STUDYMASTERS.MY on maintaining focus on your studies.
Tip 1: Humans are creatures of habit
According to Psychology Today, humans are by nature, habitual creatures and that habits and routines help set the momentum in our daily life. For candidates pursuing a postgraduate degree while having a day job, try to establish a study routine and stick by it. The more we follow that set routine, it eventually becomes a habit and it will make study sessions more efficient and it will help candidates reap the most out of each session.
Tip 2: Multitasking is NOT the way to go
One common mistake almost everyone makes is multitasking. While it is sometimes unavoidable at work, it is, avoidable during study times. According to a research conducted at Stanford University, multitasking is found to be less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers also found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time. Therefore, it is advisable to complete any outstanding task or place any work that can wait at the back burner until after your study time is complete. Narrowing the matter down to personal study time, focus on one subject at a time and completing the study materials from one subject before moving on to the next. Avoid attempting more than one subject at a time.
Tip 3: Taking notes using the old fashion way
In the age of electronic devices, taking and organising notes is a breeze. However, with electronic devices often comes distractions – beeping phone, notifications and the general Facebook surfing. Try the old fashion way of making footnotes in your textbook and notepads with a conventional pen. In a study published in Psychological Science, Pam A. Mueller of Princeton University and Daniel M. Oppenheimer of the University of California, Los Angeles sought to test how note-taking by hand or by computer affects learning. They noted that “When people type their notes, they have this tendency to try to take verbatim notes and write down as much of the lecture as they can”. “The students who were taking longhand notes in our studies were forced to be more selective — because you can’t write as fast as you can type. And that extra processing of the material that they were doing benefited them.”
Tip 4: Picking a conducive place to study
Everyone has different definitions of a ‘conducive study area’. Some need pin-drop silence to focus while some need background noise and ambient sound to focus. Whatever the requirements are, choose a study spot that suits you best and frequent that place for more effective study time – be it at a Starbucks or your neighbourhood library. There are apps that can help you with ambient noise to help you focus such as Noisy, SoundCurtain and DeepFocus.
Tip 5: Sitting in front of the lecture hall
Perhaps the most direct way is to remove distractions altogether. Apart from the obvious keeping your mobile phone in silent or closing your laptop when it’s not in use, try sitting in the first row of your lecture hall. Sitting in the front row will firstly allow you to hear the lecture better and to remove any distractions in front of you – the only person in front of you will be the lecturer. Also, sitting in front of the lecturer will make it harder for you to be browsing through your mobile phone when tempted to.