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How To Make Your Last Brain Cell Focus & Study

Are you like me and struggling to convince yourself to stay focused and productive? Does it feel like you have two brain cells remaining and they just want to be on TikTok all day? If so, then this list is for you! Here are some strategies I use in times like this. Some are obvious and some are a little odd, so hopefully one of these will work for you.

Follow “Study with me” YouTube videos

If you search the phrase “study with me,” there’s a niche genre on YouTube of people studying in real-time to motivate viewers. There might be some chill music playing in the background, an aesthetic backdrop and a pomodoro timer going on in a corner depending on the channel. My favorite channel is The Sherry Formula. They have high quality videos with fun themes and options of videos with or without music, and pomodoro’s of varying lengths. The videos feel so polished and calm because of the creator’s thoughtful details. I recommend you study along with this video for a relaxing spring atmosphere.

Use fun online timers

Using timers to help you study is a no-brainer—maybe you already do this with your phone or in a tab on your computer screen. The “Study with me” videos are basically elaborate timers, too. 

But if you want a fun alternative, try this site! It’s probably used by elementary school teachers to get kids to focus, but I have no shame in saying I fully enjoy them as the overgrown child that I am. I’ve been liking this St. Patrick’s Day-themed leprechaun race timer lately. You set a timer, for example I do 25 minutes, press “Start” and then come back at the end to see which lucky leprechaun won the race. You can turn the sound off if it’s distracting and can also name each character (I name them things like “Baddie 1,” “Baddie 2” and so on.) It’s kinda ridiculous but helpful!

Study with friends

There’s something very comforting about suffering—ahem, studying—with friends going through the same thing. You could have Zoom study sessions with friends or classmates to convince each other to focus (or get distracted and take an hour long “break,” which is part of the fun, too). If you don’t have a set group to hit up already, maybe snoop around an active Discord or Messenger chats of classes or clubs you’re in, or text some friends to see if someone would be down to study and catch up.

Two open books in a library
Photo by Aaron Burden from Unsplash

Change your study spot

Finding a different spot to work in can break up the monotony of studying, which a lot of us used to do by going to libraries or cafes. To replicate this at home, if you can, try studying in a new location in your house or room. Maybe you can work at the kitchen table when there’s less family around or settle down somewhere in a backyard. When I’m sick of hunching over my desk in my bedroom, I find it helpful to take my laptop to the kitchen counter or living room sofa for a change of pace.

When in doubt, list it out

With finals looming over us, thinking about the tasks we should do in a day is overwhelming. If you don’t do so already, you can list out all that you need to get done somewhere and then work your way through the most pressing ones first. This could be a list in the Notes app, a Google Doc, a post-it, a whiteboard or a piece of paper. I like to brain-dump everything that I have to complete onto a loose sheet of paper and then number them in order of importance. 

Try out one of these tips during your study session today, and good luck on finals! Congrats on getting this far in the year, we’re almost there! 

Reiko Inoue

UC Irvine '23

Reiko is a second year Literary Journalism and Political Science student at the University of California, Irvine. She can be found trying to dance along to choreography videos online (and failing), listening to "Rainbow Connection" by Kermit the Frog, or stalking the makeup and skincare aisles of Target.
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