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Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Battling to concentrate and focus?

A problem so many of us face during our academic lives is the lack of focus and the inability to concentrate. The most simple reason for this being, we start getting incredibly bored with our field of study and/or study materials.

You sit at night watching the most mundane things on television, convincing yourself you are enjoying what you are watching, or you opt to spend an evening cleaning out the refrigerator because you just realised it is long overdue. Basically you find any excuse under the sun not to sit with your books and study, or to do that assignment that is due. Maybe you are one of those students who is actually sitting with your study materials in the evenings but often finding yourself looking at the walls, deciding on a new paint colour that would look good and go better with the curtains. Can you relate to any of this? Well, if so, you are not alone. Most of us tend to develop issues with focus and concentration at some point during our studies.

In my opinion this is completely normal since most fields of study, and the related learning materials that go with them, are still seriously behind the times. The world of academics is still using such outdated content and near primitive methods of instruction, that it is very hard for most students to consider these interesting and informative. This results in us getting bored and it is near impossible to concentrate and focus on anything that we find boring.

So just how can we make the uninteresting, interesting for ourselves? Well this is challenging since even the nicest cheese sauce cannot make brussels sprouts more appealing. However, we can choose to eat something with our brussels sprouts to kill off the taste a bit and prevent ourselves from gagging. In other words, even if we can't do anything to spruce up the existing methods/content, we can still add interesting factors to the uninteresting methods/content, which should in turn liven things up a bit. The best way to do this depends largely on the field of study you are pursuing.

For instance, say you are studying for a degree in Art History and you fall asleep when the lecturer is giving his lecture in class, or you sit drawing stick figures in your books when you are suppose to be studying, I think it would be safe to assume you are feeling bored and uninspired which in turn is the cause of your lack of focus and concentration.

In this instance you can try to liven things up a bit by finding and reading interesting books on-line (or at the library) concerning the topics you are currently dealing with, and/or you can search for essays and articles written by others concerning the topics. Then you can use the new and more interesting information you have learnt/gained to supplement the existing content and when you have to listen to a lecture or learn the given work, you can link it in your mind with the more interesting factors/knowledge gained. Trust me this does work since prescribed textbooks and the lectures given by most lecturers seem to be designed to be as dull as dishwater and any new information gained from other sources is bound to be more enticing, or at the very least, to add some flavour. Even the shear process of finding new more interesting content/information serves as a means of livening things up a bit.

As said above, the best ways of adding interest depends on what fields you are studying in but it does in essence all boil down to finding ways of supplementing the content with more interesting factors or even in some instances, more interesting study methods (to prevent boredom).

Be creative, come up with some of your own ideas (and please share those here with us), just remember the main goal is to spark some level of appeal or else you are doomed to a life of parrot/rote learning and incredible boredom (usually paired with abysmal marks/grades as evidence).

Don't let boredom get you under. We are living in the 21st century and we are most definitely intelligent enough to think up creative ways of making the uninteresting seem like caviar and champagne.

Get focussed, concentrate and happy learning!

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