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Concentration: Home

Tips and tools for increasing your concentration.


Concentration is the ability to direct your thinking no matter if studying biology or playing pool – and to focus on the task at hand and eliminate distractions.  Concentration is an art and it takes practice.

We all have the ability to concentrate – sometimes. Think of the times when you were "lost" in something you enjoy:  a sport, playing music, a good game, or a movie.  Being "lost" in something equals total concentration.  But at other timesyour mind wanders from one thing to another, your worries distract you, outside distractions take you away before you know it, or the material is boring, difficult, and not interesting to you which equals lack of concentration

Ability to Concentrate

Our ability to concentrate depends on:

  • commitment                                                         
  • enthusiasm for the task
  • skill at doing the task
  • our emotional and physical state
  • our psychological state
  • our environment

Types of Distractions

There are two types of distractions, internal and external.

  • Internal distractions can be either physical or psychological. Physical distractions include feeling hungry, tired, or having a headache or a sore back, while psychological distractions include being concerned about a personal problem, remembering that you need to stop at the store on your way home, pay the rent, or just being worried about too much to do, too little time. 
  • External distractions include such things as others talking, whispering, eating, or shuffling papers, noises outside of the room from the hall or street, the clothing or mannerisms of the speaker, a soft voice, or, at home, the radio, television, or phone calls

Controlling Your Study Time

Here I study

  • Get a dedicated space, chair, table, lighting and environment.
  • Avoid your cell phone or telephone.
  • Put up a sign to avoid being disturbed or interrupted.
  • If you like music in the background, choose Baroque or instrumental jazz.

Stick to a routine, efficient study schedule

  • Accommodate your day/nighttime energy levels.
  • Set goals and create and keep a master schedule. 


  • Before you begin studying, take a few minutes to summarize a few objectives, gather what you will need, and think of a general strategy of accomplishment.

Change topics 

  • Change the subject you study every one to two hours for variety.

Incentives & Rewards

  • Create an incentive if necessary for successfully completing a task, such as calling a friend, a food treat, a walk, etc. 
  • For special projects such as term papers, design projects, or long book reviews, set up a special incentive
  • Give yourself a reward when you have completed a task.

Vary your study activities

  • Alternate reading with more active learning exercises.
  • Ask yourself how you could increase your activity level while studying: perhaps a group will be best or creating study questions? 
  • Ask your instructor for alternative strategies for learning.  The more active your learning, the better.

Take regular, scheduled breaks approximately every 20 to 30 minutes

  • Do something different from what you have been doing (e.g., walk around if you've been sitting) and in a different area.



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