Concentration key to success
Concentration is defined as “taking your mind off many things and putting it on one thing at a time.” Effective study is only possible if you study...
Madam, I am a college student. My exams are round the corner and I am unable to concentrate on my studies and I get distracted very easily. I face this issue whenever I have exams. I feel tensed and nervous. Though I spend much of my time on studies, nothing goes in to my mind. Please help me. -Ramya, Yousufguda.
Concentration is essence of all knowledge; nothing can be done without it – Swami Vivekananda.
"The powers of the mind are like the rays of the sun. When they are concentrated, they illumine." - Swami Vivekananda.
Concentration is defined as “taking your mind off many things and putting it on one thing at a time.” Effective study is only possible if you study with full attention throwing off mind all the irrelevant thoughts which interrupt the process of learning. Normally, the rays of the sun do not burn a paper, because these rays are dispersed. But if the rays are converged on a paper with the help of lens, it burns the paper at once.
Similarly, converging your mental capabilities enables productive study. Concentration has many uses and benefits. It assists in studying, enables faster comprehension, improves the memory, helps in focusing on a task, job or goal, and therefore, achieving them more easily and efficiently. It is a powerful tool for the efficient use of creative visualisation, and it also helps in developing psychic powers.
Many students complain that they just can’t concentrate, in other words, their minds race from one thing to another and their thoughts are all over the place - except on their studies. If you feel like this, you’re not alone. Difficulty with concentration is a symptom that can arise from both physical, psychological or emotional problems.
Concentration symptoms may or may not be associated with memory symptoms such as forgetfulness.Tiredness and emotional stress can cause concentration problems in most people. Hormonal changes, such as those experienced during adolescence etc. can also affect how we think and concentrate.Psychological conditions that may impair concentration include depression, certain anxiety disorders, and stress. Sleep disorders such as insomnia or sleep apnea can also impair concentration ability.
Causes of lack of concentration Some causes for concentration difficulties could be
- Not being prepared to read and study
- Lack of interest in the material
- The material is too difficult
- Lack of motivation
- Lack of a suitable goal
- Too much noise or activity around you
- Emotional problems
- Many tasks at hand
A major cause for lack of concentration is not being interested in the work. If you are studying something you really want to, your attention generally will remain keen. However, when you are reading something that you consider dull or boring, you will usually find it difficult. This is probably because you didn't prepare yourself properly to work on the task.
If your lack of concentration is due to exhaustion or lack of motivation, you may have to postpone the work until a more suitable time. Fear of failure is another reason for poor concentration. Often the thought of failing in an exam starts to take more time than the actual study and this in turn adds to your worry.
How to increase concentration while studying:
- Find an appropriate study environment. Generally, it is a good idea to eliminate distractions as much as possible while studying.
- Collect revision material before you begin studying. Do not plan to look for pens, highlighters, rulers, etc, in the middle of studying. It can be really distracting at times, so prepare everything you think you need.
- Eat good food and sleep well. Diet should include high protein content, carbohydrates and low sugar content. Take at least six hours of rest. A fresh mind can concentrate more easily.
- Take breaks from subjects so you don't get bored. Switch between subjects but be careful not to mix them up.
- Take short breaks. After 45 minutes of studying, take a 10 minute break and do something different. Try to get back to your studying after the break; the break shouldn't be longer than 20 minutes.
- Fix priorities.Prioritization of study subjects and topics reduces anxiety and in turn helps you focus better.
- Don't listen to music. Teens think listening to music helps them concentrate. It doesn't. It relieves them of the boredom that concentration on homework induces- Marilyn Vos Savant
- Always have a determined attitude. Do not let your own selfish/foolish acts get in the way of your concentration. Have determination to finish what you have started.
- Avoid multi-tasking.Do one thing at a time. Do not indulge in multi-tasking. Jumping from one thing to another will only teach your mind to be inattentive and lose attention quickly. Besides that, this kind of mental restlessness can be tiring in the long run.
- Exercise. Brain takes its nutrients from blood to function properly. Physical exercise speeds up blood circulation to the brain and the brain gets well-nourished and rid of waste products. Physical exercise is necessary for enhancing power of concentration.
Combating specific problems with concentration
1. How to concentrate on a topic you hate
Actively search in the material for aspects of the subject that can be turned into useful information (and might even be interesting!) Focus on the personal rewards of completing the topic satisfactorily (even if its only to be rid of the task) and build in treats to reward yourself as you progress through the task. If all else fails, see it as a personal challenge - don't let it beat you.
Use the STOP! Technique. When you notice your thoughts wandering, say to yourself STOP and then gently bring your attention back to where you want it to be. Each time it wanders bring it back. To begin with, this could be several times a minute. But each time, say STOP and then re-focus.
Start acting upon your dreams. Understand that excessive day dreaming is an avoidant behavior and works as a distraction. Working counteractively enhances your concentration and reduces the avoidance.
3. Worry time
Set aside one or more specific periods in the day when you are allowed to worry. It can help to set them just before something you know you will do, to ensure that you stop worrying about the time. Whenever an anxiety or distracting thought enters your mind during the day, banish it until your next worry time, and re-focus on to what you are supposed to be doing. Some people find it helpful to write down the troubling thought.
4. Feeling overwhelmed
Sometimes what we have to do is just too much for us to get our head around. When we think about it, it is too huge a task to contemplate and our feelings of inadequacy take over. Both contribute to loss of concentration because it all feels impossible. In such circumstances, look for ways of breaking the task up into smaller discreet parts that feel manageable. Keep a small portion of the lesson initially and complete it. Try to do more. It boosts confidence and in turn your concentration too.
Tips to improve concentration
- Whenever you lose confidence, think about your past achievements.
- You have to plan your own schedule to study.
- If you are not determined to do it, you are probably wasting your time.
- Divide your time for completing the topics you are studying.
- Commit a time to what you should be concentrating on. Do not allow yourself to be distracted by problems or worries. Set up an award system for yourself. Promise yourself rewards for maintaining concentration.
- When you find your thoughts straying from what you should be concentrating on, redirect it. Do not let it wander.
- Create an inviting and calm environment to help you to concentrate.
- Don’t say you cannot concentrate. Telling yourself that you cannot concentrate only makes it more difficult. By doing so, you program your mind to concentrating less.
Whenever you need to focus your mind, tell yourself over and again that you can concentrate. Tell yourself that you can develop this ability.Remember that in order to improve your concentration, you need to train it, like any other skill.
By:N Radhika Acharya