LEARNERS – HOW TO STAY FOCUSED

07 May 2020

How to stay focused

Studying from home is not for sissies!

In order to stay focused you have to be motivated. To be motivated requires effort. Let’s not beat around the bush – it requires a lot of effort. Sometimes it can pose a real challenge.

Studying from home can be a tough job – here are some guidelines to help you along.

  1. Draw up a timetable or use a calendar
    Start by dividing your days and weeks into your subjects. Then divide your subjects into different sections/topics.
    Set a specific amount of time – not too long but not too short either – aside for each subject in its allotted study session.
    Set a reasonable limit for how much time you will spend in total on each subject – this will differ from subject to subject.
    Write down your goals for each subject on your timetable/calendar as well.
  2. It’s not hocus pocus – it’s all about focus!
    Studying requires intense focus.
    Distractions are all around us. You are probably, like most of us, in the habit of checking social media notifications ever so often, if not scrolling mindlessly on your phone.
    You cannot multitask if you want to study effectively.
    Put all your devices where you can’t see or hear them. It also helps to temporarily block distracting websites and apps on your computer.
    Rightly or wrongly, it is said that it takes 23 minutes to refocus on your work once you have been interrupted.
  3. Track your study progress
    Draw up a checklist. Divide your subjects into different sections/topics in the same way you did on your calendar/timetable (see point 1). Write down what you intend to cover and follow that up with ticking off what you have already covered as well as writing down what you think needs to be revised. This will also ensure that you do not unintentionally skip over any aspects of a subject.
    It is easier to stay focused if you see for yourself that you are making progress in your studies.
  4. Active studying is smart studying
    Active studying means truly engaging with your study material.
    Give direction to your study sessions and remain conscious of what you should focus on by asking yourself questions before, during and after a session.
    Examples of questions:
    * Before you start: What am I about to learn and what do I already know about this section of work?
    * While you study: Do I understand what I have just read? Can I rewrite it in my own words?
    * After your session: Has this been a successful study session? Will I need to review this work before I start a new session?

    All work and no play … makes a learner unfocused
    In order to stay optimally focused you need downtime at regular intervals. If you do not allow yourself a break (see Learners 1– Fun study breaks to break up your day) (https://www.theanswer.co.za/stories/fun-study-breaks/) you will run out of mental energy and motivation.
    It is better to take several small breaks, rather than a very long one. Go and make some coffee, have a quick look to see what is happening on social media or enjoy a healthy snack (nuts, blueberries, seeds, bananas, dark chocolate), but not a bite that makes you feel lethargic (cereal bars, sweets, cookies).

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