5 Tips to Help Students Focus Better.

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

“How can I focus better when I study?”

Focus has as much to do with what happens before you study as what happens while you are studying.


1. Remove ALL distractions.

  • Shut off your phone. Better yet — put it awayJust looking at it takes up mental space
  • Research shows the mere presence of a smartphone on your desk impairs intellect and reduces brain power.
  • And if you can’t trust yourself to hit the switch – 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.

2. 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!
  • Have a classmate or friend quiz you.
  • Do end of chapter tests.
  • Read the textbook chapters out loud.
  • Teach the subject to someone, anyone!

3.  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.

4. Take frequent MOVEMENT breaks.

  • Burn off pent-up, restless energy during study breaks.
  • Get up. Walk around.
  • Do not grab your phone.
  • Move your body!  Sing a song.
  • Draw a picture. Clap out loud! 
  • Open a window. Smell fresh air.
  • Go outside. Hug a tree!

5. 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!


Related Post: I believe in you.

30 thoughts on “5 Tips to Help Students Focus Better.

    1. Thanks Michelle! I have to give my Mom (also a psychologist) credit for the “Reward yourself… eventually.” focus tip. Since we were young children, my mom always used our favourite games or hobbies as rewards for getting our homework, gardening, cleaning etc. done. And to this day — I use the Premack Principle to motivate myself through the most mundane of chores. ✅✅

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I love that about moms they always have these little things they do which bring such smiles and warm love thoughts 🧡🙏🏼 I was thinking when I read this just the other day I had to put my cell phone in my desk to focus better 😂😂🧡🤗

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Victoria! I asked students what I could do to support them post-strike. Almost all of them asked for help with focusing and staying positive when stressed. Hence the motivation for this post!

      BTW I have a worry box aka God box beside my bed and it’s filled to the brim with surrendering prayers. And it works. Every TIME. I just have to remember to give it time.. ☘️💚


  1. Such great & succinct advice, thanks! I am going to send this to my 17yr old son, who is trying hard to learn good habits for his final year of exams at high school, bless him. The phone temptation is strong for his generation… but he can do it, I’m sure. Thank you, G

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How wonderful! I love knowing that your son will benefit from this post. Especially as digital distractions become more and more enticing year after year. But such is life. And the only way to stand out is to be radically different than the norm. One “OFF SWITCH” at a time. ✅📲

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Great post! Such a simple yet brilliant idea! Turning off the wifi is something I have been doing on a regular basis since I started writing textbooks. The internet is like chocolate — you can’t have just one. So it’s better to remove the temptation all together. At least until the heavy (intellectual) lifting is done. 📖🤓

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Great tips Dr. D! I agree with #1 and I do think that flipping it over and setting a timer for your allotted study time will be helpful. When the timer goes off, then you can look at your phone. Also, something that helps me to focus is listening to Film Scores on Pandora…or any classical music, really.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mona El FALDY

    Professor your truly the best and most beautiful human being I have ever meet in my life. The world needs more people like you. Without your website that I weekly read I would be lost and you always help me feel so much better. God bless you Professor.

    Liked by 1 person

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