Some causes of poor concentration and suggested solutions:
1. External Distractions : TV, music, noise, interruptions, door slamming, your roommate's friends, your friends, etc.
To eliminate external distractions, You Need To Find a Good Study Space
HOW: Make that place specific to studying. Don't make your study space the one you use for chit-chat, watching TV, reading magazines, building model airplanes, and so on.
WHY? When you sit down at this place, you know you are there to study. The place becomes a cue for you, lets you build the habit of studying when you are there.
HOW? Make sure your study area has good lighting, proper ventilation, a comfortable chair, and a desk or table large enough to spread out your materials. Also be sure you have the proper materials handy, such as a dictionary, note cards, a stapler, paper clips, and other supplies.
WHY? Good lighting, ventilation, and a comfortable chair help you stay alert. A well stocked area cuts down on interruptions to get needed items, and a large surface insures easy locating of things on your desk.
HOW? Make sure your study place does not have a stereo, TV, telephone, refrigerator, or a good view of social activity.
WHY? Answering the phone, trips to the refrigerator, and looking up at the view or the TV are all interruptions. Regarding the use of a stereo or radio, research shows that having background music on while studying can affect the amount of material that is learned. It is strongly recommended that you study without it.
2. Internal Distractions: Internal distractions are more difficult to eliminate than external ones. Reducing them is not a matter of will power, but rather involves planning and finding ways to free your mind for studying.
HOW? Indecision and daydreaming: These can be reduced by deciding what to study when, by developing interest in your subjects, and by setting time limits for your study.
WHY? Indecision about what to study is a time waster. Daydreaming is a way of escaping from things we don't like to so or a way of responding to trying to study for too long without a break.
HOW? Personal problems: If personal worries distract you while you study, you need to take positive steps to work on these problems. Set time aside to deal with these problems, either by yourself or with the help of your friends or a counselor.
WHY? Personal problems frequently can't be put off until the end of the semester. Also, worrying alone does not make them go away. Talking them out and developing a plan of action can help reduce your concern so that you can study.
HOW? Other details: Keep a card in your study area and write down appointments and errands when they occur to you.
WHY? This will free your mind so that you can return to your studies.
3. Physical and Mental Fatigue: Your physical health affects your mental health. Therefore, taking steps to improve your health will also improve your ability to concentrate.
HOW? Diet: Eat a well balanced diet that includes something from all of the food groups each day. Especially important, include some protein in your breakfast and/or lunch, such as milk.
WHY? A well balanced diet helps to guarantee that we include the variety of nutrients the body needs. Including proteins early in the day helps maintain a proper level of sugar in the blood, the benefits of which have been substantiated by research in nutrition.
HOW? Sleep: Get enough sleep, which for most people is 8 hours per night. Also have a regular bedtime.
WHY? Insufficient sleep can produce unpleasant effects, especially if it occurs for a prolonged period of time. We also need a stable rhythm of working and sleeping. Set fairly regular bedtime and waking times: your body will appreciate it.
HOW? Exercise: Find out what facilities and opportunities for exercise there are available on campus and in the community. Find one or two forms of exercise that you can enjoy and that you can fit into your schedule.
WHY? Research indicates that health, endurance and general well-being are all dependent on circulation fitness. The only way to achieve this is through regular exercise.
HOW? Mental fatigue: (1) Schedule study periods during the times of the day when you are most alert; (2) Divide your study time among different subjects so that tedium is reduced; (3) Allot study breaks (10 minutes per hour) as a reward for good concentration; (4) Create interest in the subject you are studying.
WHY? Mental fatigue is most often simply boredom. All of these suggestions are ways to reduce boredom.
Adapted from University of Utah Counseling Center