Study Tips to Increase and Achieve Your Educational Goals

Focus is the big hairy bugbear that stalks many students. Twenty minutes into their two-hour study session they find themselves talking or texting or trimming their toenails or doing absolutely anything rather than studying. So how can you deftly dodge the distraction of friends, phones, Facebook, food, etc.? Follow this simple formula to increase focusand become the awe-inspiring focus fiend you always knew you could be. Increase focus and increase your study skill!

1. Get on your blinders. The first way to increase focus is to eliminate distractions. Way back in times gone by, when your great great granpappy was still in knee pants, coach horses wore blinders. Blinders are small shades or screens, mounted beside each of the horse’s eyes to increase focus by channeling the horse’s attention forward and keeping them from getting spooked by every little thing they trot by. A skittish animal can’t be distracted by what it doesn’t see. See how that might apply to achieving your educational goals?

Your brain is a skittish animal, so get it blinders. Make a list right now of the things that tend to distract you when you’re studying. Really. Do it now! Bust out your big fat pencil and your big chief pad and get to listing.

What did your distractions include? Friends? Your computer? Your phone? Hunger pangs? Now come up with some ways can you blind yourself to those distractions during focus time. You might go to a study carrel way back in the aging spotty bowels of your university library and turn your phone off. Take an apple and a small bottle of water so hunger and thirst won’t lure you out of your study hole. Go to the bathroom on your way in, so you can be at peace with your bladder and give your educational goals a fighting chance.

This step is a roundhouse kick to the tender mid-section of future study distractions. Put on those blinders before each study session, and most of your current focus woes will wilt like a supermodel at a spelling bee.

2. Set educational goals to increase focus. 
Actually write down those goals and watch your willpower swell to rideeekulous proportions. Here’s how. Track yourself for three days and get an average for how long you usually focus before distraction descends to reek havoc on all your study plans.  Make it one of your educational goals to increase that by 10% per session.  Then set a final goal; the goal that represents your entrance into the ranks of the focus demi-gods. For example, after three days tracking, I find that I usually lose focus after about 20 minutes on average. My next goal is to get 22 minutes without losing focus. Once I meet that goal, I will go for 24  minutes. This process stops once I’ve reached four hours straight of laser-like-mental-cutting-torch intensity. YES!

3. Spur yourself on with rewards to increase focus. This is a study tips standard for good reason. It works! Establish a reward for completion of each goal; small rewards for small goals, and one massive honkin’ ecstasy-inducing hunka-hunka-burnin-love reward for completion of The Final Goal. “Once I’ve successfully maintained my focus for 24 minutes, I get a ten-minute reddit fix. When I achieve four hours, I will order the never-ending plate o’ nachos at Mi Familia Taqueria and eat until my jaws cramp.”

Do NOT neglect the rewards. They are what turn this whole process from horrible mind-numbing drudgery into a romp through a mystical land full of edible rainbows and beer-sneezing unicorns. How ya’ like them study tips?

4. Track your progress to increase focus. The experts on study tips and psychological studies in abundance have proven how helpful tracking behaviors is to behavioral modification. Bottom line for you: write down your progress as you work on these educational goals. It functions as a regular source of concrete feedback  that will keep you cranking out longer and longer focus times. Don’t worry about downloading special apps, using a fancy daytimer, or buying a book on study tips to do this. That’s just an excuse to procrastinate. All you need to do is keep a piece of paper in your backpack or notebook that lists dates and times and maybe some comments, like this…

  • 1/12/12 -Focused 22 min. – Thas’ my baseline.
  • 1/13/12 -Focused 24 min. – Well done, Me! Beat my last time, so I treated myself to cafe latte.
  • 1/14/12 -Focused 20 min. – Aaargh! Curse you brain. You shall not win!
  • 1/15/12 -Focused 28 min. – Nyah, nyah! Reward; 5 minutes of “special attention” to the voodoo doll of my biochem prof.

Tracking progress as an aid to achieving behavioral goals has been proven effective for everything from curing phobias to quitting smoking. Put it to work for you by simply taking a few seconds to track your progress after each study session.

So put on your blinders, set your focus goals, spur yourself on with rewards, and track your progress, and you will soon find yourself a jedi master of forceful focus. Be gone foul distraction demons! You have no power here!

Follow this link for more on building your ability to focus.

© Cody Blair, All Rights Reserved.


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