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10 Ways To Stay Focused While Studying

Learn how to stay focused while studying with the information contained in this article.

You can stay focused while studying with these 10 tried and trusted ways.

Studying is the core of education. Whether you are a student or not, we are all prone to studying for one reason or the other.

Regardless of the purpose of studying, effective studying requires the ability to block out any distractions in order to concentrate and focus your attention on the task at hand. Unfortunately, most people find it difficult to pay attention while studying. 

For instance, when you’re listening to someone talk while studying, notice how easily you become distracted. You will discover that you can’t focus completely on anything for more than 30 seconds.

If this is you, there are certainly ways that you can successfully stay focused while studying. Here are 10 ways you can do so: 

1. Create a Study Plan and Set a Goal

Before starting to study, it is important to set a goal for yourself. Consider what you want to achieve and how much time is available to you to reach that goal. You must be clear about what you intend to achieve during each study session.

Create a study plan [3] that outlines the amount of time you are willing to dedicate to each subject and make sure to stick to that plan as much as possible. Asides the fact that study plans help you track the time you can use to achieve a set goal, another advantage of creating a detailed plan is that it makes it easier to assess your study progress.

Example of a detailed study plan:

Use 3 hours to read chapters 1 to 5 of the science textbook and solve the questions attached.”

When your study plan is broken down into detailed components as seen in the example, you will have a better idea on whether it’s achievable within the specified study period.

2. Take off Distractions.

According to learning center [1], there are different forms of distractions ranging from phones, computers, friends, or even our own thoughts. Each of these forms of distractions can be categorized into internal and external distractions which oftentimes are the reasons we lose focus while studying.

However, of all of these forms of distractions, our mobile phones tend to be the most common cause of study distractions. This could be as a result of social media notifications, regular pop-ups or even calls. 

According to a research project carried out by Harvard University [6], when we receive a social media notification, the brain sends a chemical known as dopamine along our reward pathways, making us feel good. Dopamine is associated with all the things we love, such as food, exercise and more recently, social media.

Over time, these dopamine becomes addictive, making us crave the positive feeling that comes with its release. As a result, our attention span begins to drop, as we find ourselves looking at our phones at intervals while studying. 

Research has shown that, on average, it takes us 23 minutes to refocus on our work [8] after being interrupted. If this is the case, it becomes a problem to achieve our study goals.

While it’s almost impossible to eliminate all distractions, there are steps that can help you stay focused to a reasonable extent while studying. One of them is to place yourself in an environment that is free of distractions. Having a place designated for studying alone is one important way to deal with distractions. Find a place with less noise and visual distractions so that you can concentrate better. This could be a library, a study room,

Another way is to use notification blockers on your phone or best of all, switch off your phones.

3. Create A Schedule And Stick To It

Another important way to stay focused is to create a study schedule that helps you establish a routine. Upon creating a schedule, share it with your family. Scheduling your study sessions helps to keep you organized and motivated while sharing your schedule with your family will let them know when they shouldn’t disturb you.

Moreso, it also gives you a greater sense of accountability.

For instance, your best time of studying may be early hours of the morning or late at night. Having a study schedule helps put you on track and focused on maintaining such a routine.

4. Take Regular Breaks

Research [7] shows that taking purposeful breaks from studying to refresh your brain and body increases your energy, productivity, and ability to focus.

It is important to take regular breaks while studying to allow your mind to rest and refresh. During these breaks, you can take a walk outdoors or listen to music. Swiping to social media isn’t a purposeful break [5] as it tends to deplete mental energy, hence leading to less productivity.

5. Reward Yourself After Each Successful Task. 

In the study of psychology, the “theory of operant conditioning [4],” suggests that we learn through reward and punishment. Breaking it down further, it states that when a particular behavior (in this case, studying) is followed by a pleasant outcome, we are more likely to repeat the behavior in order to repeat that reward, also known as positive reinforcement

In other words, rewarding yourself is a great way to concentrate and stay focused for a longer period of time in order to achieve your study goals. 

For example: I will see a movie if I meet my goal of studying chapters 1-5 of my science subject. 

If seeing a movie is something you enjoy doing, the thought of seeing a movie will compel you to stay focused on meeting your goal.

You can also reward yourself by taking a walk, eating your best food, or doing something else that you love. This strategy works for me. You need to give it a try.

6. Break Large Tasks Into Smaller Tasks. 

Studying tends to be stressful when there is no area of concentration. Let’s consider the following scenarios

Example 1: Study your biology textbook for tomorrow’s test 

Example 2: study pages 1-5 of your biology textbook for tomorrow’s test.

Considering example 1, studying a whole biology text might be overwhelming. Not knowing exactly where to start studying may result in lack of focus, unlike in example 2.

This shows that breaking down big tasks into smaller ones can help one to stay focused. 

7. Set Deadlines For Yourself

Setting deadlines for yourself will help you focus on what needs to be done in a timely manner. Having a timeline for when tasks should be completed will help you stay on track and prioritize what needs to be done first. Slot of people would rather work with deadlines because of the sense of urgency it gives.

8. Find A Study Group 

While in the University, one of the ways I remained focused while studying for exams was joining study groups.

Studying alongside other result driven students can be a great way to help you stay motivated and focused while studying. It also removes some of the feelings of isolation that can come with revising and studying on your own.

While joining a study group is a good way to stay focused while studying, it can also be distracting. Therefore, when joining study groups, make sure it consists of goal oriented fellows not just your friends. Also, the group shouldn’t be crowded. The smaller the number of individuals, the better.

9. Do Not Study In Bed

Posture has a significant effect on studying. According to Leverage edu [2], knowing the right posture goes a long way to determine which position is best for studying in order to achieve the goal of studying.

From personal experience, the easiest way to lose focus and concentration while studying is to study in bed. No matter how much you claim to concentrate, distracting thoughts are bound to creep in. There is no way you will be able to study effectively in a place that you associate with relaxing or sleeping. In fact, the easiest way to fall asleep while studying is to study in bed.

It is advised not to try doing anything productive while lying or sitting in bed. If you must achieve a good result while studying, have a place designated for studying, with a back chair and reading table. This way, you won’t have to worry about your posture.

10. Utilize Focus Tools Such As A Productivity Timer

Utilizing apps or sites to track progress is a great way to stay focused. You can set goals for yourself and see how close you are to achieving them. This will help you stay focused and on track.


Staying focused while studying is something that all students struggle with. There are a lot of factors that have made it so. One very common is social media.

Regardless of the distractions, there are many many ways and strategies that can help you to stay focused. As seen in this article, some of the helpful tips include, removing all forms of distractions like cell phones, creating a reading schedule, taking breaks amidst reading, joining study groups, setting deadlines, maintaining the right posture, leveraging on rewards, and lots more.

If you do these, you will discover that studying is not as daunting as it is presumed.


[1] “Distractions.” Learning Center, UNC-Chapel Hill Learning Center, 7 Nov. 2016, https://learningcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/take-charge-of-distractions/.

[2] Edu, Leverage. “The Correct & Best Posture for Studying & Working!” Leverage Edu, 12 Jan. 2022, https://leverageedu.com/blog/posture-for-studying/.

[3] “How to Make an Effective Study Plan.” Victoria University, Australia, https://www.vu.edu.au/about-vu/news-events/study-space/how-to-make-an-effective-study-plan. Accessed 14 Apr. 2023.

[4] Mcleod, Saul. “Operant Conditioning: What It Is, How It Works, and Examples.” Simply Psychology, 3 Nov. 2022, https://www.simplypsychology.org/operant-conditioning.html.

[5] Polish, Jay. “Taking A Break by Looking at Social Media Doesn’t Help Your Mind Reset, A New Study Says.” Bustle, 27 Aug. 2019, https://www.bustle.com/p/taking-a-break-by-looking-at-social-media-doesnt-help-your-mind-reset-a-new-study-says-18682642.

[6] “Research.” Harvard College, https://college.harvard.edu/academics/research. Accessed 14 Apr. 2023.

[7] “Study Breaks & Stress-Busters.” Cornell.edu, https://health.cornell.edu/about/news/study-breaks-stress-busters. Accessed 14 Apr. 2023.

[8] “Using Digital Tools in Pursuit of Purpose 1.Docx.” Google Docs, https://drive.google.com/open?id=1fNPir4ukqhs2O-DyW9tyx6WXWGJV1KAb. Accessed 14 Apr. 2023.

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