I struggled a lot for months with this problem and tried many things. Finally, this whole process helped me. It may or may not work for you. I would really recommend to give it a try. Skip whatever you want or customize the whole process.
Take a shower, try to feel the water on your skin, listen to the sound of water, smell the soap. Conclusion- Bring yourself to the present moment. Don’t think, just be. It will take a while, but it gets better with practice.
After this shower, meditate ( or take a walk outside, if its early morning or evening) for 15-20 mins. Try to keep yourself in the moment. Don’t worry about how much you have to study. Just be in the moment. I believe meditation is must for any one. Find the technique which works. Every meditation technique leads to the same goal.
Arrange your desk, get things you will need around. Ex. pen, papers, sticky notes, clip-board, books. etc. Every thing you can think of.
Now, on one notepad (I always keep this with me) create a to do list. The aim should be whatever you are going to finish in next 45 mins. No matter, how much you have to get done, but just take care of next 45 mins right now. A sample list of mine.
Aim – Finish lesson of data structure – Tree
– Definition of Tree
– What is binary tree
– Types of binary tree
– Operations of binary tree
– Types of Tree traversal
Make sure you don’t stuff this list. Just something, which you think you will be able to finish this list in 45 mins.
you can make this TO-DO list on your phone or computer, however I find my phone too distracting and I prefer to keep it on silent away from me. Computer I have to use, so I use stuff like – StayFocusd extension, and block everything that could distract me. Facebook, twitter etc.
Also, the feeling of crossing the item on your list by your hand with a pen gives me more motivation and pleasure than anything else. I believe this depend on individual preferences. There are some good to-do list apps available which are really nice like any do (Good day. Every day.)
Use a timer extension on browser, or alarm on phone or your watch or anything which can give periodic alarms cycles for
– Study/work time – 45 mins
– Break – 5-7 mins (make sure no more than 7 mins)
Once everything in place, start your timer, and start working.
Now, the biggest problem is we lose focus, everyone does. So, every time I lose focus I put a big red cross on the side of my to-do list. Every single time! Be honest with yourself. The idea is to keep the no. of cross as small as possible. Mine were reduced to 3-4 from 15-20 initially. If you are having too much problem, and getting too distracted for longer period of time, you can customize your alarm to remind you to focus in every 15 mins.(DONT USE IT IF YOU ARE DOING WELL)
Don’t get discouraged, if it doesn’t work, it takes a while. The meditation, will power and zeal to finish your small list in 45 mins and to reduce no. of cross will keep you driven.
3. During break
1. Stretch (must)
2. Move around in your room
3. Drink water (Don’t drink too much that you have to use bathroom too frequently)
4. Use bathroom
5. Snacks like nuts or juice. etc
4. Add ons
Music – Often I prefer music without lyrics which help me concentrate better especially when I am programming. songza Listen to Music Curated by Music Experts has a list for every activity you do, they have special lists for studying and working which includes lists like – Classical for studying, master composers like Mozart and Beethoven
Books – There are some great resources and concepts for staying focused, I think two books which are worth mentioning
Peaceful warrior – Amazon.com: Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives (9781932073201): Dan Millman: Books
Flow – the psychology of optimal experience – Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: 9780061339202: Amazon.com: Books
This books have some good insights on the science of focus.
Nothing mentioned above would work, if you don’t have the enthusiasm and will to overcome the initial obstacles of trying any technique. I have struggled with this. but this worked. I have all As right now in my master’s studies and I am enjoying my work and life. A small sense of accomplishment pushes you for more.