• Nicki M. Dakis

Preparing to Focus

I discussed in a previous blog how to motivate yourself to want to learn. Without that motivation to fuel you, learning is much more difficult. So, once you’ve determined that you actually want to learn, the next step is to sit down and get focused.

First, you’ll want to make sure that you create an appropriate study space for yourself. You’ll need a quiet space with little to no distractions. In a home, a kitchen or dining room table is a good option if there isn’t a lot of activity going on. I am also a big fan of public libraries.

To make the most of your working session, be prepared: Do you have reading and writing materials? Is your computer charged? Will you need a drink? Sweater? Or a visit to the bathroom? Making a routine out of these preparatory practices can actually help trigger your brain that it’s time to get ready to focus

Now set a timer (not on your phone) for 20 minutes, and make a deal with yourself. If you focus on your work for only 20 minutes, you can give yourself a 5-10 minute “reward”: For example, you can look at social media, have a snack, or take a quick walk outside. After your “reward break”, try focusing for another 20 minutes to 30 minutes.

There are a few things that may get in the way of your ability to focus: Are you tired? Stressed? Hungry? Do you have a lot on your mind? Are you being pulled in several directions? Doing your best to keep yourself healthy and calm helps to lay the groundwork for your brain to begin processing new and complex information.

You will inevitably still have to overcome distractions or competing forces. It’s important to try to understand what is pulling you away from focusing (i.e. your cell phone), and then try to train yourself not to give in to it. It can be difficult to avoid temptation, but the more you do, the easier it gets.

I will write more about the things that take away from our ability to focus next. Stay tuned!

Nicki Dakis

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