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10 Tips to Help you Focus Better.

This post was inspired by the one question students ask year after year:

“How can I focus better when I study?”

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Focus has as much to do with what happens before you study as what happens while you are studying. Preparation is half the victory.

1. REIGNITE your motivation.

  • Revisit why you are studying in the first place.
  • To one day save someone’s life as a nurse.
  • To protect vulnerable children from abuse.
  • To create a business that will employ displaced workers.
  • Your future self will thank you for the sacrifices you make today.

2. BORE yourself silly before you study.

  • Studying pales in comparison to relaxing on a comfortable couch watching your favourite tv show on Netflix.
  • Which is one more reason to do nothing (no television, no internet) long enough that hanging out with textbooks sounds like a party!
  • For example: Stare at a blank wall until you are so bored that all you want to do is study. No kidding!
  • The quieter your mind becomes, the better your focus will be.

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3. Create a SACRED SPACE for studying.

  • The physical act of preparing a space can be very calming for students.
  • Clear all visual clutter. Clean your room. Organize your desk.
  • Make your space a welcoming, energizing, inspirational place to be.
  • Add in vibrant colours, fresh notebooks, lightly scented candles, bright overhead lights.
  • Your studying deserves this level of respect.

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4. Prepare yourself PHYSICALLY before you study.

5. Clear out MENTAL CLUTTER.

  • Empty your mind of your to do lists, worries, and what ifs before you study.
  • Write them down and put them in a worry box to be tended to once exams are complete.
  • Repetitive thoughts running through your head could be your biggest distraction.

6. Remove ALL distractions.

  • Shut off your phone. Hide it away. Just looking at it takes up mental space.
  • And if you can’t trust yourself – lock your phone in the trunk of your car and give a trusted friend the key until you are done studying. No kidding!
  • You’ll miss it for the first 20 minutes of your study session, then you’ll forget all about it.
  • Bonus = you’ll get twice as much work done in half the time.

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7. Be an ACTIVE studier.

  • Do not passively read the textbook – you will fall asleep, I guarantee it!
  • Instead, engage with the material.
  • Get active. Make the chapter come alive!
  • Do practice tests. Read the textbook chapters out loud.
  • Have a classmate or friend quiz you.
  • Teach the subject to someone, anyone!

8. Be slightly UNCOMFORTABLE while you study.

  • Do not sit or lie on your bed when you study.
  • Sit up straight in an office chair.
  • Keep the temperature cool.
  • Be slightly uncomfortable.
  • This will help keep you alert and awake.

img_00209. Take frequent MOVEMENT breaks.

  • Study breaks are optimal at 5-15 minutes in length.
  • Study sessions should not be longer than 45 minutes at a time.
  • And when you take your breaks aim to burn off your restless energy.
  • Move!  Sing a song. Draw a picture. Dance!
  • Open a window. Smell fresh air. Go outside. Hug a tree!

10. REWARD yourself… eventually!

  • Use the Premack Principle to reward yourself.
  • Delayed gratification can be an excellent tool for sustaining attention and motivation.
  • Make a list of all the things that are distracting you from studying and use them as rewards once all your studying is done.
  • Go to Starbucks as a reward for studying, not as your location to study. (Too many distractions!)
  • Bonus = you’ll get twice as much work done in half the time and you’ll have a special treat to look forward to when all your hard work is done.
  • Your success is worth the wait!

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To change your life, change your habits.

 What is the one habit you have been vowing to change for good?

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What are you waiting for?

The right time?

The right place?

The right person?

Today I challenge you to wait no more.

For now is the right time.

For here is the right place.

And YOU are the right person. ❤️

Helpful Resources: Changing a Habit for Good.

Give yourself a break.

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I work hard. Too hard sometimes. And I bet you do too. On one hand, that’s spectacular. You wouldn’t be where you are without steadfastness and sacrifice. On the other hand, having a singular focus on work ultimately shortchanges your potential.

Rest is part of the equation.

Rest is critical for success. At life and work. We must pace ourselves on the long road to abundance. Give our mind, bodies, and spirits a chance to restore themselves. A moment to mend. A chance to recover.

The sweetest rewards are earned.

We must reward ourselves in small ways (and in big ways too). After the work is done. In between exams. After a semester of late night study sessions. Once all the exams are marked and final grades handed in.

You decide when. You decide where. You decide how.
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Healthy Mama is one of my favourite places to chillax. 💚

Where do you go to rest & recharge?

I believe in you.

As a psychology professor (and former school psychologist), I talk about mental health issues with students every single day.

My classroom is a safe place for students to be themselves.

Which is critical when working with youth (18-24) who represent the highest proportion of individuals with mental illness.

Education helps bridge the gap between fear and freedom.

And so does an open heart. And an open mind.

I believe in my students. In their potential. In their dreams.

I believe in their ability to overcome challenge, adversity, and self-stigma.

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Students need my support and encouragement.

And an educational community that truly cares.

Because self-stigma is real. 

And often more silencing than social stigma.

Because sharing our story is one of the scariest and most liberating things we’ll ever do.

Be it about mental illness or another vulnerable part of our lives.

Which is why the best place to open up the conversation about mental illness is to meet students where they are.

These are their words.

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See the light in others, and treat them as if that is all you see. Wayne Dyer

 Ontario student mental health resources and information ⇒ Visit the Yellow Umbrella Project website.

Blaming keeps us stuck.

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When something goes wrong, how do you respond?

Externalize the problem and blame someone else for it.

OR

Take responsibility for the problem and search for a solution.

It is only when we acknowledge our contribution to life circumstances that we have the power to change for the better.

Click here to learn more about Locus of Control.

Breathe and Receive.

When I’m struggling to get through a difficult day, I look to the trees for inspiration and refuge. All they do is give. And all we need to do is receive. With every single breath and every single step.

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Trust that you are exactly where you need to be.

Related Post: From Fear to Love.

Hold the vision. Trust the process.

Create a vision for your life that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning.

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This “Why Vision Board” was created by my psychology students this past September.

Why Vision Boards in the classroom.

At the beginning of the semester, I ask my nursing students to share their reasons “why” they wanted to become a nurse. Why this program?

This simple question gives students insight into what motivates them. Something I consciously tap into throughout the school year.

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Students are enthusiastic about learning at the start of  the semester. New textbooks. Colourful notebooks. Dreams still fresh in their minds.

Illuminating lifelong dreams has the most impact midway through the school term.

This is when students truly need a boost in motivation (right about now). This is the time where I insert their original “Why” vision board into my PowerPoint lecture slides.

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 “Why Vision Board” created by a different group of students.

Halfway through the semester, students are surprised to see a photo of their own words, projected onto the big screen.

They are instantly drawn back into their reason “Why”.

An animated discussion ensues where students compare their initial motivations with their current state of mind and affairs.

Rekindling their dreams. Giving them a much needed reminder as to why they picked their program in the first place

What’s changed? What’s stayed the same. And why?

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Why Vision Board” in action!

Ultimately, their “why vision board” transports them to a higher place, well above the stresses of their exams, to a place where all their dreams began.

Boosting their motivation. Lifting them up. Multiplying their energy.

A simple why? question that works. Every single time.

Reminding them why their dreams matter.

Why school matters. Why they matter.

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Reignite instrinsic motivation in one simple step: Ask yourself “Why?” you do what you do. Every chance you get!

Related Post: What's your why?

How to Embrace Change. (CBC-TV Interview)

Learn how to embrace change in 5 steps using the principles of positive psychology.

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Click on link to CBC-TV television interview.

5 Ways to Reduce Stress Today.

Life is complicated. Stress management shouldn’t be.

1. Remember to Breathe.

2. Be Grateful for This Day.

3. Do What You Love.

4. Move Your Body.

5. Keep Looking Up.

Repeat Daily. 💙

Relax your mind. Soothe your soul.

 The most important thing in your life is your peace of mind.

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 Nurture it daily. Everything else flows from there. 🍂

Related Post: Taming Your Monkey Mind.