There is nothing more frustrating than when you sit down to study with the most sincere of intentions and instead of being able to finish the task at hand you find your thoughts wandering. The fact is that our concentration depends upon a number of factors, and in order to develop our concentration span it is necessary to examine various facets of our physical and internal environment.
However, mastering the art of concentration is simple. It is merely a matter of disciplining the mind. It comes with practice and patience. There are a number of techniques that one can use to enhance one’s concentration.
To begin with one should attempt to create the physical environment that is conducive to focused thought, whether it is the TV, computer, blaring music, or your noisy neighbours, identify the factors that make it difficult for you to focus. For instance, if you live in a very noisy neighbourhood, you could try to plan your study in a nearby library.
It is impossible to concentrate or study in an environment with a loud television, blaring music, etc. If one is distracted while attempting to focus, attention and/or retention do not work at optimum levels. The key is that not more than two of your senses should be activated at the same time. For instance, music that sets your feet tapping is not the ideal accompaniment to your books.
While there is no cure for a mind that wants to wander, one should try and provide as little stimulus as possible. For instance, a student should not place his or her study table or desk in front of a window. Looking out of a window while trying to concentrate will invariably send your mind on a tangent.
The second important thing is to establish goals for yourself, instead of setting a general target and then trying to accomplish what you can in a haphazard fashion. It is very important to decide what you have to finish in a given span of time. The human mind recognises fixed goals and targets and appreciates schedules more than random thoughts. Once your thoughts and goals are in line, a focused system will follow.
It is wiser to divide your schedule into study and recreation hours. When you study, choose a mix of subjects that you enjoy and dislike and save the former for last so that you have something to look forward to. For instance, if you enjoy verbal skill tests more than mathematical problems, then finish math first. Not only will you find yourself working harder, you will have a sense of achievement when you wind up.
Try not to study for more than 40 minutes at a stretch. Take a very short break to make a cup of tea or listen to a song and sit down again. Under no circumstances should a person sit for more than one-and-a-half hours. Short breaks build your concentration and refresh your mind. However, be careful not to overdo the relaxation. It may have undesired effects.
More than anything else, do not get disheartened. Concentration is merely a matter of disciplining the mind. It comes with practice and patience, and does not take very long to become a habit for life.