Sometimes, a focused mind is an elusive thing. Difficulty concentrating can affect many activities, from work tasks to appointments to dinner preparations. It also affects studying. You've likely seen how easy it is to get distracted and struggle to stay focused. It's a common issue, but it's frustrating all the same. Whether preparing for a final exam or reviewing course material for a particularly challenging topic, you want to ensure your focus is centered and your mind is present.
Even if your program uses active learning and immersive instruction, you still need to study the materials. Studying helps reinforce your knowledge and train your brain to retrieve essential facts. But it's not always easy. Are you wondering how to stay focused while studying? Here are five study focus tips to consider.
One of the most important steps is to remove the distractions. You know what they are: social media scrolling, texts and emails to friends and coworkers, hunger, family priorities or background noise. There are many distractions in a day!
To improve focus while studying, you should set your phone to silent and move it out of sight. Also, ensure you've eaten a light meal or snack before studying to avoid the mid-studying munchies. If you live with roommates or family, tell them you're studying and shouldn't be disturbed. You can also try noise-canceling headphones to help block out background noises.
Time blocking is a helpful way to manage your study sessions. To set it up, decide what you want to accomplish during the study session. Will you review one unit of material, or will you focus on different sections or topics?
Once you know what you want to study, assign each item a block of time. For example, if you're studying to become a mental health technician, create a time block of 20 minutes to review the types of mental health or substance use disorders, followed by 20 minutes for crisis care and intake processing.
In coursework for electronic health records specialist programs, set aside 15 minutes to study diagnosis coding and 15 minutes for procedure coding. You could also block off 20 minutes for HIPAA laws and regulations.
Regardless of your studying method, you want to pencil in study breaks to help your mind relax and reengage. These breaks should last no more than 10 minutes each. You might listen to music or a podcast, read a chapter of your newest-favorite novel or do several rounds of jumping jacks, lunges and other cardio exercises.
What you do outside your study time is as important as what you do while studying. Sleep is essential for a healthy brain and good concentration, so make sure you get anywhere from seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Studies have shown that poor sleep affects your hippocampus and can lead to learning and recalling 40% less material.
A good study environment goes hand in hand with getting rid of distractions. When you choose a quiet space, comfortable seating and good lighting, you'll be well on your way to focused studying. Make sure you switch off or mute your phone and organize your study spot so you can locate notes and flashcards without getting distracted.
Creating a focused state of mind can do wonders for skilled study sessions. And once you pass your certification exams and are ready to level up, consider stacking your credentials with additional MedCerts programs. Good luck!
Julie Campos is the Vice President of Student Success and Career Services at MedCerts. She brings over 14 years of experience in Online Higher Education in both Student Support and Enrollment and started her career at the University of Phoenix, serving most of her tenure as a student-facing leader.
Julie has her Bachelors of Liberal Arts in Political Science from the University of Texas at El Paso, and her Masters in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. Her areas of expertise are student support in online higher education environments and working with nontraditional students. At MedCerts, she is focused on creating a pro-active student central support model for MedCerts students to reach their goals and has developed the MedCerts Student Support and Outreach Model, created MedCerts Student Success Advisor reports and Dashboards, as well as the Student Success Advisor Playbook. Her proactive approach to student support has been crucial in meeting MedCerts’ student’s needs, as well as completion and certification goals.
Julie has three children – a 10-year-old son and 12- and 4-year-old daughters, who keep her and her husband busy with sports. She is also an avid crafter with an entire room of her home dedicated to the hobby. In her free time, she enjoys teaching wreath making and even has a few “how-to” YouTube videos on the subject!