RSLC@Home – Timers & Focus
During exam time, we know you are trying your best to study and retain as much information as you can but your phone keeps buzzing, YouTube is just a click away, and your brain feels like it’s going to explode with information!
No matter how much we may want to get that essay done or crush that next exam, our brains may not be on the same page. The brain can be very sensitive to interference and distractions, so we need to give it all the help we can!
Here are some of our best study tips that focus on being focused!
- Turn off your phone. Keeping it on ‘Do not Disturb’, silent, or turned off will eliminate temptations to browse apps or check messages. You can also change your phone to grayscale, making it instantly less appealing.
- Choose a study environment that works for you. The more you like your space, the better you’ll thrive! Check out our Visual & Workspace section for more tips.
- Study during personal peak times. Find times where you’re most productive and take advantage of them.
- Study in intervals. Study for 60-90 minutes at a time and take breaks in between to keep yourself refreshed.
- Be positive. Always say “I can” rather than “I can’t,” and “I will” rather than “I should.”
To help you maintain your focus and study better, the SLC has also compiled a list of our favourite resources to help stay on track and really get to work!
Reduce Your Distractions
It’s very easy to get distracted, especially when working from home. Whether it’s finding something to eat or scrolling through your phone, there’s always ways to do anything but study. That’s why the SLC recommends reducing your distractions! Here are some distraction-reducing apps and programs that might work for you:
This is a Chrome plug-in that blocks websites that distract you from your learning. It increases your productivity by limiting the amount of time you spend on time-wasting sites, and will allow you to focus on your work.
This is an application that works similarly to block distracting websites while you work. It will block the distracting sites for the amount of time you choose. Unlike StayFocusd, this is an application you can download to your computer and will work with different browsers!
Cold Turkey is available for both Mac and Windows and is one of the more intense blocking systems! Like self control this is downloaded to your computer and works with all browsers. There is a free version that works great and a pro version that’s a one-time fee of $29 if you want to get really serious and block apps as well!
If you are looking for something a little less intense try Mindful Browsing. This is a Chrome plug-in that allows you to select which sites you want to spend less time on and provides custom reminders that suggest things you would rather be doing. When you visit one of the sites you chose, you will be reminded that you wanted to spend less time on that site, given a suggestion of something you’d rather be doing and then a choice to either browse for 10 minutes before receiving another reminder or to leave the page.
Hack Your Brain
Did you know you work best when working in intervals? It’s true! This is known as the Pomodoro method. Setting aside 25 minutes at a time to study and take breaks in-between will help you keep your mind focused, avoid burnout, and stay refreshed! Here are some applications that help with time keeping and setting goals. These apps will keep you on track of your work and break times, and maximize your brain power!
Clockify is an easy-to-use browser extension available for Mac and Firefox. It allows you to track your time, set reminders, and schedule in work sessions.
Focus To-Do combines a Pomodoro Timer with Task Management, a science-based app that will motivate you to stay focused and get things done. Focus To-Do syncs between your phone and computer, allowing you to shut your laptop when reading or put your phone away while typing up an essay! A great tool to manage tasks, reminders, lists, and calendar events, helping you focus on work & study!
If you find your phone is the main source of your distraction try Flora! Flora turns staying off your phone into a game you can play with others (or alone). When you, or you and a friend want to put your phones down, you plant a seed on Flora that will gradually grow into a healthy tree. If anyone starts using their phone, the tree will be killed. Flora creates a shared goal that helps you and friends put down the phones and be productive!
If you like the idea of turning productivity into a game, take it a step further with Habitica! Habitica is a free habit-building and productivity app that treats your real life like a game. There are in-game rewards and punishments to motivate you (and others if you join with friends). Habitica is fully customizable, allowing you to set goals for work, school, your health, and your hobbies!
Focus is a skill, and like all skills it takes practice to master. You increase the strength of your arms by lifting weights and working those muscles, if you want to strengthen your mind you need to work those brain muscles! Meditation is like a gym for the mind. Whether you want to increase focus, stop that pesky inner critic from taking the lead, or reduce stress, meditation is a great place to start.
If you are new to meditation, take it slow, and start with short guided meditations. Just like going to the gym, doing it once may not make a huge difference, so we recommend setting longer term goals of practice. Try it out for 5 minutes a day for a week or two and see how you feel!
Here are some apps that can help:
Meditating is a great way to relieve stress, recharge your mind, and find your focus! Using this focused attention practice at mindful.org, practice being focused and calm during your study breaks to help you learn more while you study.
As one of the best digital meditation resources on the market, Headspace has several meditative collections fit for every mood. During this time of social distancing, the app has also made several of these collections free for everyone to use. Check them out!
Maintaining positivity during exam season is key! Remove the negatives in your life with positives until you instill confidence in yourself to succeed! This free app sends motivational quote notifications to your phone throughout the day which can help keep you encouraged as you study.
If you are interested in learning more about mindfulness and what it can do for your brain, check out this LinkedIn Learning course. (2 hours and 3 min) Feel free to skip to different modules that appeal to you. It offers many short, simple, guided meditations that may be very useful for beginners!
Exam season is hard at the best of times, and we know a lot of you are studying and working in challenging settings! Be kind to yourself as you adjust to new routines and navigate new challenges. Set yourself up for success by using the resources that work for you and asking for help when you need it. We believe in you!