How To Concentrate

August 15, 2009  |  Study Skills

Do you have have problems concentrating? Believe it or not, you are not alone! The first thing we need to do – before we can discuss how to concentrate – is to define the term “concentration”. According to Princeton University’s WordNet, concentration means:

“great and constant diligence and attention”

This is interesting… If concentration is related to attention then that means that we should be able to improve our concentration by simply becoming more attentive, right? Now, here are a few suggestions on how to do just that:

Apply The 5 More Rule

Instead of just quitting the task all together, you tell yourself to do only 5 more things before you quit. When these have been accomplished you promise yourself again to only do 5 more things (such as writing only 5 more pages, solving only 5 more math problems etc). The keyword here is the word ‘only’; by decreasing the size of the task cognitively you feel less hesitant to abandon it altogether. There’s an Arabic proverb that says:

“If you Can’t finish it altogether – Don’t leave it altogether”

Treat Yourself Like A Child

What do you do when your little child has accomplished a task? Well, you praise the little fellow and give him/her a reward. Treat yourself in the same manner by offering yourself incentives when ever you’ve completed a task. This will improve your motivation which in turn improves your concentration. For more information on increasing your motivation, please refer to this post on our blog entitled; improve your study motivation.

Why wait? Do it Now! resources

Procrastination is without doubt one of the biggest enemies you will face as a student. The temptation to delay your studies will always be strong, to counter this your will to succeed must be stronger. Why procrastinate and do something tomorrow if the same task can be done today?

Remove All Possible Distractions

The sad thing is that we don’t always notice when we are being distracted! There are really two kinds of distractions:

Those that are visible, such as someone who is having a lengthy (and boring) discussion with you during your ‘official study time’. Each and every “cell in your body” tells you that this is very disturbing.

The kind of distractions that are not picked up by ‘our radar’. This type is actually worse than the previous one. You can always tell your annoying friend that you’re busy but how on earth will you rid yourself from something that you’re not even aware of in the first place?

Examples of such distractions are (in no particular order); talking with someone on a topic that interests you, watching a movie while studying/working, listening to music and so forth. All of these things are distracting you from your studies even though you’re not thinking about it. The best way to avoid these types of distractions is by avoiding them from the start.

If you continue to have trouble concentrating once all distractions have been eliminated, you may be working yourself too hard. Exercise or take a walk to get rid of nervous energy. A lack of concentration is also a symptom of eye strain, so visit your eye doctor if you consistently have blurred vision or itchy, watery eyes. If a simple adjustment is in order, you can get contact lenses and be back to your old self in no time.

Make A Task List

I wrote about this in an article entitled how to do a to do list. A to do list is basically a task list that makes it easier to concentrate on your subject. It does this by making you think only about one issue at a time. Task lists are in some ways the opposite of mind mapping, since the latter involves scattering ones thoughts instead of collecting them. Although that’s a good way to initiate a project, it’s not very useful when it comes to actually doing the task in question.

About the author

ABDERISAK ADAM is an author, blog writer and a PhD candidate in the institution of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Chalmers University of Technology. He is also the owner and webmaster of www.study-habits.com, a website dedicated to the discussion of study techniques in the context of higher education. Adam is the author of a number of publications including 'The Study Guide PRO'. You can connect with him through Google+, Linkedin or by submitting a form.


269 Comments


  1. i am in 10th grade.. i wanna become a zoologist.. but i am not at all good in science.. just help me out to concentrate in it..plzz..

  2. i’m 4m pakistan, doing medicine. i found it very different and exactly what i needed!

  3. I cannot concentrate on my study and memorize the things because whenever i start reading i start thinking of ohers thing

  4. i am hoping to get good solution which could help me in future

  5. hi! I’m a student of govt. City college,chittagong reading in science.i read through the whole page and i try to follow this.thanks a lot.

  6. hi sir ,
    i am chandrika ,my pb is while studing iam suddenly depresssed,a millons of taught rush into my mind ,ican’t stop them.plzzzzzzzzz give best suggestion to me

  7. Find the root cause for your depression and take the necessary time needed to deal with that issue.

  8. hi ,
    I am in 8th std .I cnt concentrate on my studies .and cnt put more effort. so plz tell how to get rid of laziness. plz I am in great trouble.

  9. hello sir
    i am kunal
    my problem is whn I was studing my thought is come to my mind n nt able to concentrate also go at depression

  10. hey! thank you so much. i love this site

  11. The best way to get rid of laziness is to think back at everything bad that laziness has caused you in the past. Do you want laziness to be the cause of failing your exams or getting poor results. No? Then force yourself to study, even when it’s not pleasant.

  12. You need to fix the source of the problem. Find out what is making you feel depressed and deal with that first.

  13. Hi. I am only left with a week time to my mid semester exam . I have a total of 4 subjects with 5 topics tested. And now, Ierely just started on revising! Each subject at chapter 1 only. These subjects need memorizing. Can you advise what I can do for this week?

  14. thankssssssss alot i always have problem concentrating but i forget what i have learned quickly what to do about that ??

  15. A.O.A I am student of 3rd year I want to get 85% marks.when I study some thing many thoughts related to future comes in my mind due to which I could not concentrate on my studies. Please help me I will b very thankful to you

  16. sir,
    i am class 11th and unable to concentrate on my studies.. I and my best frnd had a big fight so wheneer i open books my frnd thoughts are coming and i am unable to concentrate.. please tell me solution sir .. i want good score and i have only 1 month for my final exams .

  17. I am too lazy to do anything. yet every fiber in my body is screaming and telling me to study…

  18. :( I am also having the same issues when I study but after reading this article I think I am gonna get rid of procrastination and will concentrate.

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