We live in a world that is full of distractions so it can be a challenge to focus for longer periods of time on the demanding material needed for academic study. Being able to concentrate effectively is not a matter of will-power and forcing yourself, but about reflecting on what works for you, and setting up an environment that minimises your potential distractions.

Scroll down for our recommended strategies and resources. 

Set yourself up for success

This simple list of strategies looks at the main areas of your working environment and approach to see where you can make some small changes to avoid common distractions:

Seek support

Sometimes we can’t concentrate on studying because we have other stresses or priorities happening in our lives. You don’t have to deal with these alone. You can talk to Counselling or your Student Support Coordinator. If you would like an anonymous space to chat about how you are feeling, Brookes has partnered with Togetherall to provide 24hr access to online mental health support for students. You can register for Togetherall using your Brookes email address.

Be realistic

We often feel we need to sit still and concentrate for hours at a time. In reality, our minds tend to focus on average for 20 minute blocks. Thinking in terms of shorter segments of about 20-30 minutes with short 5 minute breaks in between can be more realistic and productive. There are more time management strategies here:

Active not passive learning

If you are feeling bored, distracted, or unable to retain any information it may be because you are adopting passive learning strategies. These strategies often involve copying or highlighting without processing the information. Instead try more active strategies that involve you doing something with the information, such as making a mindmap, condensing into shorter notes, or teaching someone else. See below for more on the difference between an active and passive approach: 

Train your mind to focus

Concentration is something we can develop with practice and through having healthy habits. Counselling have good resources:

Too many open tabs?

It can be hard to concentrate when flicking between lots of tabs in your browser. Your thinking can quickly become disordered and your computer can also run more slowly under the strain of so many open tabs. Have a system for bookmarking or copy and pasting the relevant links into a file so you can close them and not lose them. Keeping better track of where you found information online will also improve your referencing!  

Switch off online distractions

Online meetings involve a number of simultaneous forms of communication, such as the chat box, online polls, and speaking to the group. You may also be tempted to check your email or text a friend at the same time. All these communication streams can quickly become distracting. Try to avoid dividing your attention during live meetings by closing browser windows, turning off notifications, and not checking your phone.

Plan non-screen time

Spending too much time in front of a screen can make you feel tired and headachy. It's easy to just continue watching another video, so explicitly plan in breaks and non-screen study time to give yourself variety and give your eyes a chance to recover. For more tips on avoiding screen fatigue see the link below: