How to focus better on your assignments

By Akira Kato

Is your university assignment due very soon, but you’re feeling unmotivated? It might not be your fault, but possibly your lifestyle and environment affecting your mood. These tips may be able to help minimise your stress as a busy student, and keep you focused on what matters. With the right set-up, concentrating should be easier.

  1. Don’t stay with your phone
Stay away from your phone to help with your studying. Photo by Freestocks, Unsplash

Not only is it beneficial to switch off your phone, but you also have to have distance from your phone. The University of Texas at Austin found that students who took a test in a room without their smartphones significantly outperformed compared to those who had the smartphone nearby even though it was set to silent. The findings show “the presence” of smartphones impairs cognitive performance, as well as imposes a “brain drain”.

According to Roy Morgan, Australians aged 14 to 24, which most university students are, waste roughly a full month a year just checking social media. This survey shows many students are obsessed with scrolling smartphones and often get distracted. Don’t forget this amount of time doesn’t include time for texting, browsing or watching YouTube.

  1. Allow yourself a quick nap
Photo by Sara Mednick, TEDx Talks

Whenever you cannot think straight towards your work or you get energy slumps, take a nap. Sleep research in the US proves that among nappers, brain activity associated with concentration in the afternoon was as strong as in the morning, while non-nappers saw a decline.

A 20 to 30-minute nap is ideal for refreshing your brain. But studies show there are different effects depending on the nap lengths. Those who napped long enough to enter REM sleep for a while increased creativity and enhanced working memory performance.

  1. Eat healthy meals with small portion

Most of you have experienced that you were struggling to keep your eyes open and wanted to hit your bed straight after eating a large meal. Digesting and absorbing food is a high energy drain, with the body consuming about 10 per cent of its daily energy expenditure. Eating light can reduce the burden on your organs, which results in saving your energy for studying.

Healthy eating is also a must. What you eat directly affects the structure and function of your brain and mood. Sugary food can trigger feelings of tiredness and sleepiness – steer away from overly sweet food before you open your laptop.

A small portion of balanced food can help you to get motivated on your assignment.

  1. Find your peak brain time

According to PSB Academy, between 10am to 2pm, and from 4 pm to 10 pm, are most effective times for studying because the brain is in an acquisition mode.

That said, you can choose an evening time slot if you’re a night owl. Shifting your study pattern doesn’t necessarily result in better performance. Oxford University biologist Katharina Wulff says that pushing you too far out of your natural preference can have negative consequences.

It’s best to find your peak productively time and follow your natural rhythm.

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