Below are valuable tips to help you improve learning, increase focus, and maximize productivity to achieve your goals.
1. Minimize Distractions
Choose a quiet place. If not feasible, consider noise-canceling headphones, pink or white noise, or slow ambient music without vocals. Notifications from any non-essential devices make effective concentration impossible—remove those devices from the room or set them to do-not-disturb.
2. Create a Home-Study Space
Have materials, supplies, and necessary devices handy and clear the workspace of clutter. Straight-back chairs and tables or desks facing walls, not doors or windows, are recommended. Avoid a bed, couch, soft chair, or floor. For lighting, bright, soft, indirect overhead light is best, supplemented with a lamp. Temperature in the mid-to-high 60s is ideal for optimum alertness for most people. Temperatures above 70 make some people drowsy.
3. Manage Your Time Wisely
Aim to work when you are most alert (are you a morning, afternoon, or evening person?) to make the best use of your time. Do the most important and difficult work first. Take breaks of 5-10 minutes every hour or so. During breaks, rest your eyes by closing them or looking off into the distance. Do not do any close-up work with your eyes—avoid looking at screens. Taking a brisk walk or having a healthy snack can reenergize you.
4. Engage with Materials that You Find Boring
For written materials you find boring, use active reading including pre-reading, and taking notes including annotating, paraphrasing, and summarizing. Relate to the material—associate it with things that you know. For online presentations, pay attention to visuals and graphics including facial expressions and body language. Listen carefully for transitional, signal words indicating main ideas, especially at the beginnings and ends of presentations. Participate however you can.
5. Prepare Mentally and Physically
Get adequate rest and eat healthy “brain food” meals and snacks in order to work while feeling your smartest, most alert, and least hungry, or fatigued. Eight to ten hours of sleep is recommended for teens. Research shows that even after one night of inadequate sleep, people are measurably less intelligent.
Healthy foods dramatically increase and maintain mental clarity, alertness, and performance. “Brain foods” combine protein, complex carbs (fiber-rich whole grains, vegetables, and fruit) and healthy fats to elevate and maintain your blood sugar at an optimal level. Your bain depends on this for energy and optimum functioning. Minimize processed, packaged, fast, fatty, and fried foods with refined carbs and significant added sugars or fats.