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Why is it so hard to sit down and study for hours?

I myself can sit for maybe an hour or so and studying but that would only be for one subject. I find it hard to focus when I have a lot of work to do. # #career


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Daniel’s Answer

Hi Savannah!

Taking breaks is key. One popular method is the Pomodoro Technique, which breaks your work into intervals of 25 minutes followed by a 5 minute break (with longer breaks interspersed throughout the day). When you say you can't focus for more than an hour at a time, that's probably a signal to get up and take a break before diving back in. 🙂

When I was in grad school, I was working at the same time, and so only had a couple hours in the evening every day for studying. I found that by picking just one or two things to get done each evening, I was able to keep up with my coursework and still go to sleep at a reasonable time every night (my goal was 10pm). Sleep actually has a role in memory, so it's actually good to not deprive yourself of sleep even if you feel like you could spend more time studying.

I also tried to set a goal of having one day on the weekend without homework every week. This helped motivate me to get study out of the way, but also provided a buffer in case I ended up having more homework than expected. Most of the time I met my goal and was able to have some real downtime, which helped to reset me for the next week.

The key here is to recognize your limits, give yourself plenty of breaks when you need them, try to serialize your work so you're not context-switching more than necessary, and to get plenty of sleep so your studying sticks. Good luck!

Daniel recommends the following next steps:

Pomodoro Technique: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomodoro_Technique
Sleep's Role in Memory: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3768102/

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Jane’s Answer

First things first; you know yourself and your limits. Good for you!

Now you need to figure out how you learn best: do you need to hear something to learn it (then try singing through your studies; silly but it can work!). Do you need to see something for it to stick in your brain? (Neuroscience tells us you must focus for 7-10 seconds in order to move material from short term into long term storage). Do you need to manipulate things to better learn? (Be creative; draw diagrams, maps, timelines to manage the information.

Take breaks; walk around; drink more water. Skip the caffeine or late nights. Our brains work better if we get good sleep (8-10 hours for women, 6-8 for men). Our brains remember things in the state in which the information was inputted, so if you juiced up on caffeine, you would theoretically need to be that juiced up come test time.

Jane recommends the following next steps:

Does anyone in your blood relatives have ADHD (attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity); if so, talk to your guidance counselor or your doctor about next steps
Eat healthy.
Exercise.
Try to find mindfulness exercises on youtube; this is a skill that increases focus. it is free and might be helpful.

Great answer. Brad Stewart

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Katie’s Answer

Study habits are not one size fits all, and marathon sessions do not always yield the best results.

Check out some tips to help—> https://www.educationcorner.com/habits-of-successful-students.html

For some subjects, I find it helpful to have complete silence and for others, I like to listen to music.

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John’s Answer

Savannah sometimes you're are told to study a single subject whole day so that they can develop strong command and mastery over it. However, learning the same subject throughout all day can be monotonous and boring. Sometimes when you study similar information, your mind cannot stimulate it any longer and hence you can get confused and mix-up different ideas. So, it is always better to study multiple subjects every day. But it does not signify that you should learn all the subjects in one day; try to provide equal time to at least two subjects in a day. Studying multiple subjects in a single day is always helpful when you are preparing for the upcoming examinations.

FOCUS ON THE PROCESS NOT GOALS
Today the students are concerned with the goals but not with the process. Successful students concentrate on learning and just not trying to get the top grades. You too should emphasize on the process rather than only concentrating on the goal itself. Experts comment that there are two types of goals for the students - Performance Goals (getting 90 in Math exam, getting better rank than the friend etc) and Learning Goals (doing at least 10 sums a day, improving knowledge in Thermodynamics etc). While the first one is about proving others, the latter objectifies mastery and growth. Ironically, many schools and colleges emphasize on the importance of performance goals but if you expect your comprehensive development, concentrate and embrace learning goals.

STUDY IN GROUPS
Rubbing shoulders with the best minds of the class always helps you academically and also infuse a spirit of healthy competition among the students through which they are mutually benefitted. You can study in groups especially the subjects in which you underperformed in the last semester. When a group of college students study together, they get to explore new perspective from their friends and a better way to approach a problem. They can share each other ideas which help them to grow together.

TAKE BREAKS
Do not engross yourself in studies all day. It is important to take breaks even if you are under too much academic pressure. Regular study breaks helps to enhance productivity, focus and concentration. Experts suggest at least 5 to 10 minutes break is compulsory every one hour you devote to studying. If you are too concerned with the syllabus that you need to cover then you can use a stopwatch which will notify you after 5 minutes is over. Whenever you sit for a study session, assure yourself a specific reward after successful completion of the session. This is a simple way to motivate yourself when you are preparing yourself for big examinations. It will also complement your learning and memory infusing the spirit to learn faster.

Hope this was helpful Savannah

John recommends the following next steps:

Drink at least eight glasses of water every day. What it has to do with learning? Many students suffer from dehydration especially during the exam time. Dehydration can cause the brain to shrink and as a result the mental processing power decreases. So, drink plenty of water.

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Gloria’s Answer

Hi Savannah,

The human mind is not really made for concentrating for long amounts of time. It is not you, it happens to everyone. An hour is a good amount of time. And then you will need to take a break. Your challenge with lots of homework is that you are not going to want to stay away from your studying for too long. You should stand up, stretch, walk around and then come back to a different subject. Sometimes you cannot finish your studying on a single subject at one time. You may need to break your homework into smaller components, doing your homework for a subject over several days. It actually improves your comprehension if you learn over several days rather than in one sitting.

Gloria

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Yasemin’s Answer

Hi Savannah! There's a lot of great advice but I'll offer what I personally know! So, I would definitely keep out distractions like your phone, and the T.V. and also stay in a quiet room as well. Some individuals do like to study with some noise but if it can be difficult if you tend to feel distracted. I also would recommend breaks every now and then, maybe motivate yourself to definitely sit down and study with a prize at the end, like watching a funny clip, eating a piece of chocolate or something else you like to do! I would also recommend to be comfortable when studying such as wearing comfortable clothes and being in a good position like at a desk, in addition to incorporating different study elements like notecards, taking notes, and using highlighters. Learning and studying a subject can require different ways to do it and being an active learner than a passive one is important and will also help you in being more engaged in the subject and not feel distracted or weary when studying. As a last note, sometimes it can be hard to study and we may feel unmotivated but we have to just push through our work in order to complete it especially if we want to get good grades!

I hope this helps and best of luck!

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Gisselle’s Answer

I feel like as students we tend to procrastinate or dread all the amounts of work we have after studying, so what I recommend is studying in intervals. Study for 30 minutes then give yourself a 10 minute break, but be careful and try not to exceed this break.

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Sunny’s Answer

Hi Savannah,

It takes time and practice to be able to study for a long time. I was in the same situation that I had to study various subjects and I could only study for one hour at a time.

The thing that I tried is to turn off my cellphone and stay away from all the things that might distract my focus when I was studying. I also started a timesheet to see when I started and ended studying so that I could check my study hours everyday. After I tried this study session multiple times, I noticed it became easier to study for several hours. The key is to find a way to isolate yourself from all the distractions (even short convo with your friend) and to improve your productivity by checking your study hours. It is also critical that you do this everyday until it becomes your habit.

Good luck!

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Benjamin’s Answer

Other contributors have offered great study tips, I want to chime in on this part of your question: "I find it hard to focus when I have a lot of work to do."

I totally understand! Especially when you have different classes and types of work to do, it can feel overwhelming. I find it helpful to have a to-do list with deadlines. By writing everything down, I feel comfortable that I am not overlooking or forgetting anything, and having the deadlines helps me prioritize. Then, I can focus on the actual work/studying, taking one thing at a time and progressing through my list.

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Brandy’s Answer

The best way to study for long periods of time is to have a set schedule for yourself. Be very specific with what you will do and block off the day in 50 minute blocks with 10 minute breaks in between. For example, when studying for exams in school I would block off my time as below. This gave me a set schedule to follow and I knew exactly what task I should be doing and there was always a start and end time for motivation. If I just sat down to "study" I would never be productive, but if I made a schedule the day before with exactly what I needed to study then it was much easier to stick to that schedule.
EXAMPLE
8-8:50am Review Pharmacology Flashcards
9-9:50am Complete all pharmacy calculation practice problems
10-10:50am Rewatch lecture on diabetes medications
11-11:50am Review Quizlet on brand vs. generic names

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