Let`s_Ace_It: The Art Of Focusing.
When your senses capture something, it is automatically stored in the... sensory stores (fair enough) for about 500ms to 2 seconds, that`s when you make the choice weither to let it decay and fade away from your brain OR you choose to give it your attention and focus on it, therefore allowing it to go from the sensory store to the short-term memory, where it will last for about 20 seconds, wich is the exact time you have to decide weither you will let go of that information and again throw it out of your brain OR you can choose to rehearse that information in order for it to travel from the short term-memory to the long-term memory.
*sigh* my brain is more organized than I am dugh.
So today, it`s the bold words that interest us, it`s the annoying struggle we all encounter when we finally drag ourselves to sit on our desks and decide to get the information into the brain, but most of the time, the brain decides otherwise and chooses to fantasize about the parka coat it saw in that store, the evening you are going to spend with your homies next week or again scrolling through all social media for snippets from the VS fashion show, yeah I feel you.
Ugh, you already know it all, focusing on one thing, particulary in the 21st century, is a real challenge, but don`t worry, science and my excperience got your back with some few tips to help your brain give concentrated & efficient attention to that one lesson and filter away the unecessary trash.
Before You Sit @ Your Desk:
Focusing is not something we are born with or not, it is a muscle we can work on building up and strenghtening, and the work starts way before you sit at your desk with your lessons laid before your eyes:
1. Ask Why?
Find the right motivation to your studies.
2. Prayer & Meditation.
Prayer is indeed a great way to strenghten your focus, because in prayer, it is required to keep your attention still and concentrate on the supplications you are uttering, so we all find ourselves fighting over and over against disturber thoughts in order to bring focus back, well that fight is beneficial, while just giving up for those thoughts will do nothing but loosen your focus ability outside and inside the prayer.
Same thing for meditation and the breathing techniques that comes with it.
3. Brain games.
Chess, sodoku, memorization ....brain games are a go-to `gym for the brain` where we can learn and build up a lot of cognitive skills from wich : attention, simply because they require a lot of cognitive opperations, you cannot really disctract yourself from accomplishing.
When At your desk:
Now that you`ve actually opened your notebook and read the first line and try to focus, there are some things you may encounter and wich needs you to take care of:
1. Boycott Multitasking & Banish Distractions.
Neuroscientist Earl Miller notes that our brains are"not wired to multitask well... when people think they're multitasking, they're actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do, there's a cognitive cost."
Face facts: That little brain of yours just CAN`T do a lot of things at the same time, even if everyone, nowadays, plans the after exam meeting on Facebook, while `studying` for that same exam, eating Maltesers and watching Taylor`s concert on Youtube.
As shown in this article, multitasking has many cons: from lowering both your IQ and EQ, decreasing the quality of your work AND causing stress wich effects on human`s health are well known.
As the psychologist Herbert Simon famously declared,
With a poverty of attention on your main task, you will waste too much time and have poor quality results, that`s why the air-plane mode was invented (amongst other obvious reasons), so use it and postpone every other task for later, when you`re done with the one in front of you.
Personally, devices are a nae nae when studying, but I can`t help my mind from longing to live in the 60`s when studying History, wich leads to thinking about the Jane Austen movie and then how fashion rules has changed since then ... and the inner dialogue goes on and on until the alarm goes off and I feel bad about myself.
So what I did was putting a piece of paper beside me and whenever I have intruder thoughts, or I remember something I have to do, I just write the key word only of that thought on the paper and then shift my focus back to... History. And I can tell you, its working pretty well.
2. Bring Your Lessons To Life
The second reason the brain may loose focus is boredom, the first being multitasking.
The thing is, novelty literally excites neurons and therefore drives them to work more effectively.
I cannot guarantee that everything you`ll have to study or work on will be new and interesting, that`s why I suggest to stop complaining and instead focusing more on bringing novelty to the way you study.
See it like how your brain chooses a well presented meal over a messy plate, even if the food in the latter may be more delicious that the first.
Similary, your brain will work more actively if your notes are made more creatively and you find a way to interact with them, by turning titles into questions and challenging your brain to answer them.... there a lot of ways to bring your lessons to life and make them more appealing for your brain to devour, and I`ll incorporate some of them in the next Let`s_Ace_It post inchaAllah.
3. Divide It Onto Small Chunks & Promote Breaks.
The third reason is lack of energy:
``Less energy equals less capacity to understand, decide, recall, memorize, and inhibit. The result could be mistakes on important tasks. Or distractions can cause you to forget good ideas and lose valuable insights. Having a great idea and not being able to remember it can be frustrating, like an itch you can't scratch, yet another distraction to manage.``
Let`s just see energy as a reservoir, in order to fuel it you are meant to put the right food in your body and provide it with enough glucose.
To sustain that energy and keep your attention fresh, it is recommended to take several intentional breaks during your studying, even if it`s just a 1 minute break (try stretching) after every 30 mins of full concentration, you should also consider dividing your lessons into chapters and little parts.
Also, sleeping is highly known as a very effective opportunity to let the brain put the right information in the right drawers and consolid everything you`ve learnt so far.
I am aware that there are a hell lot of tips and tricks to reach full concentration, but I just chose to stick with these few that are currently working for me, plus I don`t think this post should get any longer, however the comment section is open for additive advices about focusing. x)