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?