Have you ever found yourself unable to focus on reading long texts for school or procrastinating important work?
I find myself feeling this way a lot, it’s always super common in school. So, wanted to share with you some of the ways I stay focused for school and make sure to get all of my readings done for my literature classes. I want to preface this by saying I don’t use all of these tactics everyday! I often mix and match what things I do to study and there are plenty of days where I do nothing at all.
Without further ado, I hope some of these tips can help!
Pomodoro vs. Anime-Doro
Traditionally, the Pomodoro technique is an alternation of 25 minutes of work and then 5 minutes of a break. However, I find myself not being in a state of focus until at least 5 minutes into the block of time.
Instead I have adopted a technique called “Anime-doro”! I admit this idea is not my own and I started this after watching this fantastic video from Josh Chen on YouTube, if you’ve ever wondered how to finish One Piece and still pass all your classes this is the video to watch!
I will do 1-2 hours of focused work and then take a 20 minute break by watching 1 episode of my favorite anime at the time (most likely Sailor Moon). This does take some personal restraint to keep myself from pressing the next episode button on Netflix or Hulu, however while I am working I find that it pushes me to keep going much more!
For me, the next episode of my favorite anime is a really good motivator and reward for getting a big chunk of work done and is able to get me through a good 4 hours of studying at least! In the end, I think that the Pomodoro technique it really valuable but it is important to adjust the times to fit your own needs and make sure you have a good set reward ready for you at the end. I’ll talk more about rewards later in the post!
Also, my favorite app for keeping track of my Pomodoro’s that also plays double duty in keeping from getting distracted on my phone is Forest. I highly suggest you visit their website and the planting tree feature is a little reward all on it’s own!
If you prefer something more simple there are plenty of other Pomodoro apps, or you can visit the Anime-Doro website for a simple browser based timer!
Another important aspect of a good study session is having background noise that keeps you focused on your task. Depending on what you are doing, there could be different levels of what kind of noise you can work with.
For me, when I am reading or doing other high focus tasks I prefer listening to ambient or classical music. Another go-to for me is video-game soundtracks! These soundtracks are usually engineered to keep you drawn in and focused on the game when your playing it, so they work to keep you focused on your work as well!
Here is a list of some of my favorite songs to listen to while reading:
- Valse “La plus que lente” ~ Debussy
- Carnival of the Animals: XIII. The Swan ~ Yo Yo Ma
- So This is Love ~ Emilie Pandolfi
- Kingdom Hearts Soundtrack
- Studio Ghibli Soundtrack
Schedule Your Study Time into your Calendar
This tip is especially great if you already use your calendar for meetings or classes. It’s as simple as blocking out a few hours of your day for just studying. Having it on your calendar encourages you to treat a study session the same as a mandatory class or meeting. It makes it more likely that you will not plan other things over it. It also helps tremendously with time management and can also help with keeping your work within a time limit.
There is something called Parkinson’s Law, in which a task will stretch out to take up the amount of time you set aside for it. So, if you set aside 4 hours to do a critical reading then it will take 4 hours. On the other hand, if you set aside a whole day, it will take the whole day.
Blocking out my studying and work on a calendar ensures that I don’t have too many days where I work/study for more than 8 hours.
Here’s another YouTube video from Jules Acree that does a great job at explaining how to plan with your google calendar and a little bit about task batching.
The Power of a Great Reward
This is the most important part of a good study strategy in my opinion. Having a reward that you are looking forward to and can motivate you to get your work done more efficiently and with better quality is a really powerful thing to have. This circles back to the Pomodoro technique that I discussed earlier because without a good reward, the whole system kind of falls apart. Here are some examples of rewards that you can try out!
- Reading just one chapter of the book your reading (even better if it left you on a cliff-hanger)
- Watching one episode of your favorite show
- Making yourself a delicious snack
- Playing with a pet
- Going on a short walk
I would also suggest not making your reward something that you always have to buy, such as a coffee from Starbucks or new stationary. This is because it can often start to add up and lead to guilt and in order for breaks to work, they have to be guilt free. Otherwise you might feel bad for not being more “productive” and just working through the day. Working or studying without breaks or rewards is not a healthy mindset and it is important to give yourself compassion.
Holding Yourself Accountable
Now, I’ve given you all these great tips but how do you actually implement them? How do you not just take your rewards early or end up on your phone instead? The answer is accountability.
One of the best ways to keep accountable is to have a friend to study with that you know will keep you on track. Especially if you live on a university/college campus, than having a study buddy is super valuable! You can have an agreement with each other that you will say something if you see the other straying from their main goal.
Another option is watching live study with me videos, productivity streams on Twitch, or joining focus rooms such as this one from StudyStream. Going to a library or café where other are working as well can also have the same effect. Seeing other people working around you will help you stay accountable because you will want to be as productive as they are!
I hope you were able to find a tip that was helpful!