Tips to work on your concentration
It is important to realize that you can control your ability to concentrate yourself. The following tips can help you with this.
- If you are easily distracted, you must first become aware of the source of the distraction. We distinguish two categories of distractions: internal distractions and external distractions. Internal distractions are those within yourself, such as your own thoughts, feelings, emotions. For example, daydreaming, thinking of things other than the task before you, etc. External distractions are those outside yourself, such as loud music, street noise, the TV, the room being too cold, the room being too dark, etc.
- Start with an inventory of everything that leads you through your study tasks. What happens when you lose your focus? Why do you lose your focus? Write that down, make a list of all things that will keep you from focusing on your task. Only when you have a good overview of them, you can switch off the distractions.
- After making an inventory, you can move to switching off the distractions.
- External distractions can be switched off by removing them or by preventing them. For example, turn off your mobile phone, turn off your internet, turn off the music, remove all the distracting things from your room and your desk, close the doors to keep out the distracting sounds, ask your friends not to visit between certain hours, use earplugs, etc.
- One strategy that works well to control internal distractions is stopping your thoughts. Check consciously and regularly if your focus is still on the study task at hand. Ask yourself often (for example, every other minute) what you are currently working on (e.g. your study task or something else). When you find that your attention has drifted away, mentally say "STOP" to those distracting thoughts and focus on your task again. In the beginning, you will have to check yourself very often, but gradually you will find that your attention remains focused on your task.
- Another strategy that helps to prevent your attention from drifting away easily, is actively engaging your study task; by taking notes during lessons, underlining when studying, making schedules, etc.
- It is important to view your score on concentration together with your score on the motivation scale. It's much easier to focus on things that interest you. If you have problems with both motivation and concentration, it will be more challenging to improve your concentration without also working on your motivation.
Talk about it
If your score is different than you expected, try talking to someone. You can do this with fellow students, friends, or family. You can also talk to your Academic Counsellor. You can find the contact information here.
In addition, Career and Counselling Services (central TU Delft) is happy to answer your questions.
Do you want to know more about concentration and would you like to have more exercises for improving it? This website offers tips, tools, training, videos, etc.