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.


270 Comments


  1. thanku soo much..i really needed ds suggestion… 🙂

  2. hi, i am a graduate nursing student and i am about to take NLE this december, i just read this article and i find it very true. i will try to use the 5 more rule and i will post it on my wall so that i can see my progress everday. i hope that it will be effective. i will try to eliminate distructing things and people..i’ll get an update on this..thanks!

  3. I’ll be looking forward to that!

    Abderisak Adam
    Webmaster of Study Habits

  4. i am the student of polytecniq 1st year. i can not concentrate well in sum subject like physics.what to do?

  5. I am addicted to facebook and i want to get rid of it. In addition to that I listen to music alot while studying. Please help as i need to concentrate for my LLB.
    Thanks in advance. 🙂

  6. hi
    for me its really hard to concertrate while studying because my mind always think other stuffs rather than the course of contents. literally, i can only concertrate for 5 mins and after that I feel dull and cannot concerntrate
    please help me out i am fed up with the same thing each and every day I wanna be someone in this everyone’s world….

  7. I can’t seem to concentrate .. is there any other more intresting way of studying history ?!?!

  8. i dont have interest. i think that is why i cant concentrate while studying.

  9. Hi,I can’t concentrate on my studies. Playing and being popular, movies, singers, quarrels in school these things distract me while studying what Am I supposed to do to get rid of all these distractions and concentrate on my studies?

  10. i am dng my graduation… i do have 5 accounts subject which with i can cope up nicely but it comes to read theory i.e economics…. i loose my concentration.. i want some sugggestions to concentrate on theory…

    pls reply as soon as possible..

    thanking you!

  11. hey…my name is sheetal.i live in australia. yr.8
    i cant concentrate on my work n i wanna be a doctor. i also luv science.but i cant concentrate even if i put a lot of effort into it. please help me.

  12. i am in 8th grade. 😀

  13. i too have same problem…i m neither interested in movies nor in sports..though i cant concentrate on my studies..somebody help me out too plz plz…my exams r goin though i do not have any tensions for dat…

  14. Hello …
    I read your useful article, and I will apply the advices that you gave. But I dont think they will solve my main problem (my distraction by any little thing). When I talk to my friends sometimes I forget what they asked me to do, and the same thing happens when I try to study, I cant concentrate because I’m very busy remembering what are the other things I need to do or remember…
    I’m a senior and I really need solution for my problem…
    Thanks

  15. i m b.tech student//civil branch//till i m not able to gain concentration to my studies…….daily i m thinking bt its fail,,,plzz help

  16. Every success is comeing by only hard work.
    so do work hard and get a very good result…

  17. How to concentrate in studies

  18. Hello! Everyone.

    My is name Anup. I have some problem to share with u . I am not getting interest in my studies. But, I have big goal to achieve. But day by day I am loosing my confidence. I am have good knowledge bout computers and latest gadgets released in market. But I dont have knowledge on my syllabus based subjects. I cant focus on my studies. I just always searches outsider from studies. What to do?.

  19. sir

    I cn’t study well. While i m studying i loosing my concentration please give me an advice

  20. i have exams with in 4 days, but i am trying to prepare well, but it is not possible for me. i had take 1 year break and now continuing my studies.now this problem is raised. My problem is when i am open the book,with in 2 mins i am going to sleep or my thoughts were changed. but these exams were very very important to my life. if i fail in this exams i lost more valuable things in my life please please give me a solution

  21. this is really helpful…

  22. Hi sir this s harsha and i m willing to pass these diploma examinations so i want some tips to concentrate on the studies…………! i cant concentrate so get me some tips…..!

  23. hi, i m an intermediate student.
    these days i m not able to focus on my studies. the reason is wenever i study i get lost in thoughts. please give a possible solution so tht i cm back to my form once again.
    thank you..!!

  24. Hey, hi the best solution for ur prob is all u need is to strengthen your mind first and keep one small not book sep, just write down the task about want to study materials ex: if u want to work it out on maths problems just write on that small book i want to complete this much prob today itself or in this couple of hours. so just try it out this will works ok have a good times all d best keep smilling

  25. If you can’t focus on your studies that means you are focusing on other things. What are these things? If their more important than your studies, fine it’s understandable. If they are not as important as your studies, then you will need to cut down on these activities because they are taking away time that you could have spent studying or doing something productive.

  26. Tomorrow is another day

    Hello admin it has been a long time since you gave me your big advise that has helped me for over 2 years. with my ups and downs I have managed to do great with schools matters. But at this very moment, I am experiencing a mind block like writers you know what i mean. After a month I have my finals and the feeling of the exams near makes me sick.Now in distance of 2 years I would really appreciate your advice again. Thank you very much ! Best wishes 🙂

  27. hi am a 10th standrd stdent. I have been taking above 90 % upto 8th class, but since last 2 yrs, I am jst going down day by day. Perhaps its my ovrconfidence or lack of concentration. I try so much to follow time table, but i am unable to stdy more than 1 hr. Also my speed is very slow that sometimes 30 40 % of my exam is often left. Plzz suggest me so that i can recvr myself….

  28. The human mind can only keep unbroken concentration for 2 seconds at a time, so the trick is control more than focus. For studying theory: take simple notes while reading that summarize the chapter. I break each section into the main points and add the relevant points underneath. It’s tedious, but it helps with keeping the mind focused because you return to the book repeatedly. And, by forcing yourself to write summaries it sticks with you.

  29. Abderisak Adam

    You need to practice a lot more and a lot often. There could be many reasons to why you never manage to finish your exams. I suspect you use up far too much time in the beginning part of the exam. Try beginning the exam by first skimming through the entire exam so you know how many questions there are and how difficult they are. Then you can make a assign a quick time duration for each question. For instance: Question 1: 15 min | Question 2: 20 min | Question 3: 20 min and so forth… Make sure that when you add all of the durations, there will be at least a 20 min left for review.

  30. Abderisak Adam

    Wow, great to hear! 😀
    I hope you ace your exam!

    I’ve written about writing block here. Have a quick read and see if it’s anything that interests you.

    Keep it up!
    Admin

  31. radha krishnaji thnx 4 ur help… i had already started tryin wat u said few days before only… nd it is workin literraly…thnk u so much 4 the help..may god bles u

  32. veryyyyyyyyy goooddd suggestion!!….it will help me a lot..thankss

  33. hi. .. im prepering 4 fompitative exams. im unable 2 remember quickly what im studying..can u pls
    suggest …

  34. nothing else but fear for losing something great like failing in exams and further loss of one more year …incite the concentration …. For example just 1 or 2 hour before our mind will be very very eager to know anything related to exam and catching power and concentration will also increases at that time ….. So always have a fear and courage to break it and fight for it …. Automatic concentration will come …..

  35. Concentration is difficult because we are running our minds too fast.Many thoughts come to our mind at a time.We need to slow down the speed of our mind.Also we need to have a good sleep at night.

  36. thks ..

  37. I love this articles i think it will help me in my studies cos am having serious problems to concentrate and to remember. Thanks alot.

  38. Abderisak Adam

    Any time 😀

    Regards,
    Abderisak Adam
    Webmaster of Study Habits

  39. Abderisak Adam

    You’re welcome! 😀

    Regards,
    Abderisak Adam
    Webmaster of Study Habits
    Become a Member | Follow Us

  40. plz accept a bundle of thanks …….. it helped me a lotttt,,,,,,,,,,,
    Thanx Carl sir and Abderisak Adam sir.

  41. Hi adam,
    Iam asma ,i have been chosen an option to do correspondence(M.B.A) while working ,i have done my B.tech with Merit Marks &iam a merit student everytime,but nw im married & also has a small baby 8+months,many problems with my in-laws ..& very challenging in my work at office…but nw a days my focus concentration are not at all on studies but i have to do my P.g as sson as possible its my dream…My first sem exams are in coming 10 days….didnot even studied anything…please can you suggest me hw can i concentrate more on my studies ..plz give me some tips to remember & keep my 100%on my studies as im 23yrs old ..so i don’t want to waste my life & carrier…thank you in advance….

  42. i really studied very well in my 8 th std .i actually had great interest in my studies. but now i am in 10th and i am losing my interest frequently .i don’t know what happened to me

  43. Mind distractions are the worst distraction that needs more work than other distractions, and it can be removed by writing these distractions on a paper and then throw this paper to think for the time being (which is studying) 🙂

  44. Hi, i am a studing HSC . My 1st year final exam is nearby. But i am very much adicted to facebook and hearing music. Still I can not consantrate on my stuy. What should i do? Thanks for your information…

  45. i always start to study with a fresh mind…..bt after a while i start to think about sm other topic,or my 4nz,or smthing else…..bt this article helped me a lot…..thx…..

  46. oh god!!!!!!!!!!!
    you are saying true i will use this method surely
    5 questions every hour
    after 2 days is my exams

    i m 13 yr old you know

    eat a watermelon and cool down

    key 2 success!!!!!!!!!!

  47. I am a b.com student. Any time i think about cricket or playing mobile. please help me:-)

  48. Hello! I’m ajay from india. I’m a b.tech student but i cant understand engineering, this is plssr. My concantration is so week

  49. thank you……… i got some idea to concentrate in my studies…….. i kept in my mind what u told…. once again thank u…..

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