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Struggling to focus? 3 tips and tricks for your next study session

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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCD chapter.

It’s happened to everyone before– you try to study, but you find that you can’t seem to focus at all. Then you become frustrated, which only makes it harder to focus. Here are three tips to help you focus better (plus a bonus tip at the end)!

  1. Let yourself be bored for five to ten minutes before studying

What do I mean by “let yourself be bored?” I mean that you should not be doing anything that’s stimulating your brain too much, aka scrolling through TikTok or watching a show. These things usually leave you wanting more, and studying becomes the most unappealing thing ever. So let yourself be bored before you begin. Avoid entertainment and opt for something that’s boring, such as wiping your desk clean or taking the trash out. I don’t have a scientific explanation for why this works, but I like to think that it prepares you for studying, which demands a lot of brainpower. Giving your brain a true break before you start should help you get into the right headspace for studying and doing homework.

  1. Switch it up

Most of us have a to-do list on our phone, but I think we should also write another list, on paper, of what you need to get done in one or two sittings. When you find yourself losing focus on one thing, take a look at your list and try doing something else instead. If you find yourself switching between tasks often and not actually accomplishing much, you may want to take a break and reflect on why you’re unable to focus. Sometimes we have other problems we should take care of instead of doing schoolwork. 

  1. Do not listen to music!

Studies have shown that you focus better in a quiet environment. Unfortunately, that means no music during your study session, not even lo-fi hip-hop. It can be very tempting to listen to music, but you must resist that temptation. If you really must listen to something, try brown or white noise instead. If you don’t like that, try binaural beats. If you’re still unsatisfied, maybe you’re putting too much attention on what you’re listening to instead of what you’re supposed to be doing. Sometimes it helps to start an internal narration of what you’re going to do.

  1. Bonus tip: try caffeine plus L-theanine

If you’re a matcha girlie, I have good news for you: sipping on matcha may help you focus on your study session. Matcha is high in L-theanine and relatively low in caffeine, so it helps with focus without making your heart pump faster (looking at you, energy drinks). L-theanine is an amino acid commonly found in green tea that has been shown to bring numerous health benefits, like improved sleep quality, stress reduction, and more. The benefits it brings are influenced by what compound is paired with it, which is why adding caffeine to the mix will help you focus better. The best way to get this combo is through drinking matcha or green tea (preferably loose-leaf tea), but you can also find L-theanine in supplement form and get caffeine from something else. 

Here’s my final take: It’s easier to focus when you’re in the right mental state. This is influenced by a lot of things: your pre-studying rituals, your sleep quality as of late, etc. There are many external factors impacting you too, so forgive yourself when you suddenly find yourself having a hard time focusing. You must be compassionate towards yourself to get back in a good state of mind.

Yesha is a biological sciences major at UC Davis. She loves learning about pretty much anything, and she used to have a studygram. In her free time, she enjoys reading, going to the gym, and arts and crafts.