Ace that Essay – Tips for Improving Concentration and Avoiding Distractions

When you first pack up your belongings ready to descend on your university of choice, you soon become caught up in a whirlwind of parties and socialising that you forget that you actually came to learn.

Yep, uni isn’t all about nights spent in the Students Union with a tequila shot or five – ahem.

It’s about gaining the qualifications you need in order to progress into the career path of your choice. Sadly, how many Netflix series you can watch in a week and how few hours’ sleep you can survive on post-party aren’t the kind of things you can pop on your CV.

To help you avoid distraction and improve your concentration, we’ve compiled a few tips to keep in mind and the tools you can use to ensure that you get your work handed in on time – with top marks too!

Set realistic targets

When faced with a to-do list which is as long as your arm to be completed in a day, you have immediately set yourself an unrealistic target. And let’s be honest you will struggle to achieve this in the time frame given – and beat yourself up that you’ve failed to complete your tasks.

Create a master list which you can work from and break it down in to smaller, manageable chunks. Never add more than three things to your daily to-do list, and once they have been checked off, anything else you do that day from your master list is a bonus!

Set working time limits

If you work best from 7am to 3pm then that’s fine, but equally if your brain is buzzing between 5pm and 11pm that’s okay too. While you will have lectures which you need to attend on time, you can complete your individual studies at a time that suits you – so rather than sticking to the same schedules as your friends, if that time isn’t your most productive, then change it.

As well as working at your most productive hours, the Pomodoro Technique is a time management ideology which aims to improve focus, helping you to complete projects quicker, before mental fatigue is reached. The idea is you work for 25 minutes with no interruptions and then take a five-minute break. After four sessions have passed, you can then take a longer break of 20 minutes. The frequent breaks are said to keep your mind focussed and minimise the time you spend procrastinating.

 Embrace your distractions…constructively

We are all prone to distractions, but it’s how you manage them that makes all the difference. If your go-to is to sack off your tasks completely and embrace your distractions then think again. You’ll only end up with more work and mounting pressure if you forgo your tasks and instead opt for a duvet day – and as comfy as that may be, it certainly won’t be where you’ll be when deadline day is fast approaching.

If you find it truly difficult to focus on one task at a time, then you try to indulge your distractions in a constructive manner. For example, if you’re reading a text book or article online for your studies, but find yourself with fidgety hands reaching for your phone, then why not have a fidget spinner to hand such a this. While originally a tool for those who have ADHD, offices across the world have been embracing them to help staff stop fidgeting around and give them a distraction that can be completed desk-side.

The internet and social media is the devil at times, and you can easily find yourself endlessly scrolling and tapping away for what feels like five minutes, but is actually three hours. We love these apps which block the internet and social media while you complete you work, with some even telling you how much time you’ve spent browsing online that day – certainly a wakeup call if you need one!  

If you have any other concentration hacks we’d love to know them!  

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