Attention span is the amount of time one can spend on a task (like studying) without getting distracted. It was said that a two-year old child has five minutes of attention span while teenagers and adults can sustain only 20 minutes attention span. And for students who have tons of pages and chapters to be studied during finals, compressing everything in 20 minutes is impossible.

The typical approach of one student when examination dates are approaching is to pull out one big pile of print outs, notes and even books in one weekend or even one night. You start to list your things-to-do, plot you study schedule and try to eliminate you social media accounts for preparation. You become hard to yourself and try not to get distracted because on the next 24 hours, it is already your examination day. 

But when you are already on your throne and ready to study, minutes after one page, you were already burned out and decided to take a break. Later you realize that you already consumed one hour of scrolling and browsing on your feed.

Here are some strategies that I want to share with you (that were effective in my case) with out burning out.

1. First, list all the topics you need to study and plot your schedule. Yes, do this even though it is hard to follow. This gives you a little motivation before your study because you’ll look at this once in awhile and it will tell you how far you have gone.

2. Download the Forest App in android or apple. This is an application helping you to stay away frm your smartphone and stay focused on your work.

Your goal in here is to build a beautiful forest in exchange on completing the minutes or hours you have set by staying focused on your studying. You can set it into 20 minutes since studies show that  20 minutes is the average attention span of an adult. But you can extend it to an hour or more.

One good tip: Try to memorize on the first 20 minutes, at least there are points that will retain.

2. Give your self a break. Once you have grown one tree from the Forest App, treat yourself by giving a break.
You can set your preferred minutes for your break. You can walk around your room and stretch a little bit so that there will be a good flow of blood in your system. Drink water, grab some snack or just stare at the ceiling. Sometimes, staring at the ceiling can be interesting when you are studying.

3. Know your style. In my case, I have three reads. 

a. First read is just plain highlight with a little bit of understanding.
b. Second read is when I start writing in my notebook for key notes. I also underline the highlighted parts.
c. Third read is encircling and highlighting my key notes. I know this is a very long process but it is my way on avoiding burning out in one subject. 

It is important to know your style. Maybe you can retain what you have studied while speaking out loud, while walking or just plain sitting down.
4. Study first on what interests you. In medical school, there are 3-5 chapters needed to be studied for a 60 item quiz and sometimes those chapters can be pretty boring. I study basing on what interests me the most. At least, I have one topic that I already have studied and understood because I like it. So when examination comes, I give the right answers on that particular question. I am not zero at all.

5. Study out. One factor that burns you out is your environment. If studying in your room is not already effective, try studying in cafes or libraries. It is okay to switch places on where you are comfortable yet distraction free environment. I study out because I am away from my bed and it keeps me awake.
I know we all have different ways of studying but another effective way that will keep the fire burning is to think about your goals, your future, your parents and your tuition fee. 🙂
How about you? What are your ways in studying without burning out?
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Marica, a 20-something lady who loves to explore new things in the world while juggling her life in the medical field.

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  1. Aww this reminds me so much of university days. I kinda miss school. The readings.. The sleepless nights. I've even brought my study notes at a bar once while people around me were drinking. Haha. We've also abused McDonald's as our study place.

    I see we have a similar style. 🙂 I start with highlighting then writing key points then comes the real studying.

  2. when I was in High school, my usual study ritual is to make a master list of the things to study the night before. I also do casual reading, just reading it and understanding. not really memorizing anything. when I have my list done, I sleep. the following morning when I'm ready to ride na going to school, I'd get my list and memorize it in less than 10 minutes since that is the average travel time from our house to school. I need to memorize everything from the list before I go to school. That really worked for me, back in high school.

    Fast forward to college. I had a really hard time coping up with the change. My dorm was just walking distance from my school building. That means I don't have to ride anything to go to school. no more time to memorize things. I was so desperate one time that I rode a 13c going to Ayala, then cross the street, rode another 13c going back, just to have time to memorize everything I had on my list. haha

  3. Sleep. I know it's a bit of a counter-flow but I only have an hour of attention span. After that, I get really drowsy. The good thing is that what I've studied that's still on the short-term memory bank becomes long-term (most if not all of them). So, in a sense, I let myself burn out so I can maximize what I learn. 🙂

  4. OMG, the Forest App has such a unique, great, and cute idea lage! I easily get distracted jud raba and then I tend to procrastinate dayon. I should definitely try this app asap! Also, way back sa college, books are not our thing because IT students in our university don't really require books. But still, the app should be very helpful!

  5. Nice list you got there, Marica! Some of these tips can actually be applied to us bloggers when we blog! Thanks for this! You also list some apps we can use. Maybe I could list more of them soon!

  6. Ooooh! I wish I knew of that app back when I was still in school. Would've really helped a lot aside from the other tips you listed. Might just use them now for work or maybe even when I'm blogging. Thanks for this Marica! 🙂

  7. Since, I was a working student when I was in college. I always plan ahead what will be the subject that I need to focus first as part of my time management. First thing on my list are the major subjects. :)This post reminds me my naning student

  8. I don't usually study a lot when I was a student. I prefer to listen and learn as much as I can during the discussion. I often fall asleep after few hours of reading. But when I am going to focus and want to study especially those demanding minor subjects in college like Social Sciences and history related subjects, I usually study at dawn because that is when I don't fall asleep easily.

    And for major exams, I usually study out too. A change in environment seems help me a lot to retain what I am studying. And Ohhh! That forest app is really cute. I wanna try that app…. 🙂

  9. Haha. The life of a student can be really hard and I'm glad I'm over it. I think that studying should start during discussion; when you have yourself interested in a particular topic, it's usually easier to recall things because you've learned it from the heart (cheesy, I know). Then I just scan through my notes or my book…and doze off. Don't forget to get lots of sleep before a major exam. Haha! Cramming won't do you good. 🙂

  10. How I wish I have read this article way back when I was still a student. Another well written guide for students. Anyway, I didn't really remember if I study that much during college days, but one thing I'm sure I did, but now much just like what you always did.

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