They say that the brain is like a muscle – the more you use it the stronger it gets. The problem is, though, that our brains are naturally lazy and we need to work hard to train them; we need to learn to concentrate just as we need to work hard to improve our memory or to increase our attention span.
As it happens, science backs this premise and offers a great deal of information on how simple practices such as crosswords puzzles or word games can enhance our cognitive abilities.
“They found a direct relationship between the entire process of solving the puzzle, the speed, the accuracy and a varying range of functions including attention, memory, and reasoning. People who played crosswords regularly had much better and consistently improving performances compared to others.
“The tests also proved that playing daily crossword puzzles can reduce the mental age and improve the virality of a person by almost ten years.” (Source)
But what about us? What can we do to master the art of concentration during our studies?
Simple Steps to Learn to Concentrate
The evil nemesis of concentration is distraction which is a great place to start. Any deeper research into this issue will tell you to identify and eliminate distractions which is a simple and logical way of taking the problem and putting it over there. Turn off your phone, turn off your emails, close the door. Do whatever you need to in order to allow your brain the space to do one thing.
Yes, this is one of the most overlooked yet critical areas of cultivating the ability to concentrate. Simply put, if you aren’t resting your brain, don’t expect it to work at full tilt for you.
One of the meanest things we can do to ourselves is to sit down to study without an end in sight. Setting a timer which allows you to study for 30 – 40 minutes is the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, after which you have your own permission to get up, take a short walk and have some tea. This system also allows you to train yourself to commit to uninterrupted periods of focus and concentration, while gradually extending the time from 10 minutes, say, to 30.
- Slow down
While this advice may seem counterproductive, it makes sense. If we are panicky or stressed, trying to cram too much into a short period of time, then our brains are in full fight or flight mode. Calm down, breathe deeply, read slowly, plan carefully. Faster is not always better.
During your time at university, you really will need to harness the power of your mind, so start now – train your brain to learn to concentrate.