You sit down to study and you find that your mind starts to wonder and is unable to focus. Or you get bored or you end up completing a task different from the task you started with or you waste the study time scrolling your phone. Sounds familiar?

You are not alone. There are so many distractions – phones, television series, magazines, friends, and even family can be a distraction sometimes. And don’t get me started on candy crush. There are internal distractions too – the delicious dinner you had yesterday, the novel you just finished reading or the climax of the last movie you saw, a discussion you had with a friend the day before or an assignment you are nervous about.

So with all of these, it is difficult to block it all out, settle down and just focus.

focus while studying

7 Tips to keep your focus while studying

I would share some techniques that I utilize to stay focused while studying. And they could work just as well for medical, nursing, or any student at whatever level – undergraduate, pre-med, postgraduate or post-doctoral students.

  1. Settle down to study

I mean actually settle down in a dedicated workspace. No! your bed with your pillow propped up does not count. Be true to yourself and if your friends distract you, study alone. If your home or dorm room is distracting, head out to the library. I don’t always study in the library, sometimes, I find it too quiet. Create a comfortable and distraction-free zone before you begin studying so you can actually just settle, focus and study.

  1. Forecast your needs

You know yourself best and so, you should be able to predict what you need for a study session. I need a lot of fluid and snacks (I am orally fixated but working on it). I also need more than 1 coloured pen. The whole point of this is so you do not need to get up after you have settled to study except when you are taking a break.

  1. Set study goals

Plan out your study. Decide what exactly you want out of the session. Knowing the objective completes half the job. Nothing like your priorities to jolt you back to reality. I also use a reward system to motivate or encourage myself. Sometimes it’s a bar of chocolate, some chicken wings, a book from my wishlist or new stationery. Rewarding you keeps you motivated. the harder the tasks, the bigger the reward.

Study focus printable

This printable is available for download in blush (shown above) and light green. Just print and plan our study session.

Blush study focus printable

Green study focus printable

  1. Pace yourself.

Break your study down into chunks of study time with breaks. Yeah!exactly like the Pomodoro technique. Except don’t use your phone to time yourself. You can use a kitchen or egg-timer. I use this kitchen timer by Joie. It can be set to up to 60 minutes.


I remember one time, I was using a Pomodoro app and my study session was going well. The 3rd cycle of 25 minutes was just done and I picked up my phone for a 5 minutes break and then it was the end of the study time, my nap time and I had to go resume at work. This brings me to the next tip…

  1. No phones

It’s simple. Turn off your phone or leave it in a different room. Setting it to vibrate doesn’t make the temptation any easier. Same with I-pads and computer except you are using it to study.  Then disable the WhatsApp for PC. Don’t check your e-mails. They would still be there when you are done studying. There are apps to block access to certain sites like FocusWriter and SelfControl. You can find the different ones here.

  1. Move on

So you read something and don’t understand it, then you re-read it and it doesn’t make sense, then you read it again and it’s unbelievable, there is no point reading it for the fourth time, instead find a different resource or viewpoint or make a note of it and find a colleague later to explain it to you. Don’t just get stuck there. It would only leave your frustrated.

  1. Reflect on your learning

Reflection makes everything better. You can apply the process of reflective learning. At the end of the session, sit down and reflect in 3 minutes or less. Where you able to achieve what you set out to achieve? If you were unable, then why? What could you have done better? What would you do better? Did you have distractions? How can you handle them next time? In that, you become better.

I hope you enjoy reading these tips and that you find benefit in them.  I always love to hear from you. So tell me… What tips listed here or not actually work for you?


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