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Learning to concentrate is often one of the hardest skills to learn. Often we are not sure why we cannot concentrate and become frustrated or overwhelmed when we sit down to complete a task. Your mind may wander. You may even have trouble becoming settled enough to attempt to study. Although there is no magical solution to erase these feelings, using some simple steps may be very helpful.

Step 1: Where do I study?

If you find yourself repeatedly being interrupted by outside distractions such as friends, phone calls, or pets, you need to find a way to curtail or even remove these annoyances completely. An easy way for you to see how much time and energy you do drain off from your study times via these interruptions would be for you to take an accurate baseline observation of your study times for one week. This means that each time you study, you should write down how long you worked, what subject you covered, where you studied, how many and what kind of interruptions you had, and how much work you actually accomplished. Once you have this information, you can use it to analyze your study habits. You may discover for example, that you managed to read more or do more problems at a particular time of the day. Whatever the results are, you now have some concrete evidence on where your weak points and your strong points truly are and you can then decide what you want to change.
Set aside a place for study and study only! Examples could be a quiet room in your house or apartment or the local library. You are trying to build a habit of studying when you are in this place. Don't use your study space for social conversations, writing letters, daydreaming, etc. Make sure the area is well lit, has good ventilation, a comfortable chair, and a desk or table large enough for you to spread out your materials. Make sure your study area does not contain a telephone, television, radio, a refrigerator stocked with goodies, or kids. All of these are distractions that will take your mind off of the task at hand.

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What locations do you have available to use as study areas?

How much time do you have to devote to studying each day?

 

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This program was developed by the West Virginia State Department of Education, the West Virginia Workplace Education Program, and the Regional Education Service Agency (RESA) V.