It may seem obvious but having a consistent place to study will help immensely. Creating a study area will help with concentration, organization, and completion of assignments. All of the class note-taking, listening, and writing down of assignments won’t help if the act of studying takes place in an unproductive environment.
The way we learn plays into the best type of study area we need (more on that in the post about Learning Styles). But here are a few basics:
Eat before you study: Yes, even eating is a distraction. But in order to feel re-charged you have to feed your body. Don’t try to eat and study. You won’t do either very well. Every reach for the chip takes away attention from that math problem. Plus, the salsa dripped all over your 3-page essay won’t sit well with your English teacher (believe me, gross). Make sure you eat brain food. Carbs may be great before that big game but they have the tendency to put your mind to sleep. Stay away from that piece of cake as well. It may work wonders right now but in about 1/2 hour you will crash. So, have some protein, fruit, or a salad (wow, I do sound like a mom…).
Find a work surface: No, sitting on the floor in front of the coffee table is not a good option. A table or a desk is best. But you knew that. Is this table or desk in the middle of a busy kitchen or in front of the television that is turned on to some every exciting and must see show? No? Perfect. The table or desk should be in a quiet area without much family traffic (no little siblings running past every 3 minutes). Ok, now clear off that work surface of everything except what you are working on RIGHT NOW.
Get rid of all tech distractions: TURN THAT CELL OFF! There is no text that cannot wait until your homework is done (like that double negative). If you don’t need it to do research or print out the assignment that you left at school (more on scatterbrained moments later) than put it away. If you like to listen to music as you work and it helps to focus you than by all means turn it on. For some people music helps them to focus. However, it is most always non-vocal music. So get your jazz and classical pieces ready to go. But keep it low. Any music at a high volume is a distraction.
Do the hard stuff first: Your brain is still fresh and energized. Get the hard stuff done early when you are most able to focus. That serves two purposes; you get the hard stuff out of the way which makes you work faster and it leaves the easy stuff to the end which makes you feel good when you are done. It’s true – try it.
Take a break: Try to finish each assignment before you break. Doing half of the history assignment and then leaving will make finishing it much harder. Make a goal to complete one assignment before you take any breaks. When you do break, make it short – 10 minutes at the most. And by all means DO NOT PICK UP THAT CELL. Don’t turn on the TV either. HUGE time suck.