Are you a pro when it comes to seizing each day and the time God has blessed you with? Or do most days end in some form of stress, anxiety, or regret over failing to complete what you intended?
Many of us, both young and old, know that we could make better use of our time, but few realize that making small changes in the way we focus can help us get there.
Focus is the root of all higher abilities; without it, nothing else can take shape in our lives.
Focus is one of the biggest struggles for modern students and adults, and yet it is an essential element in all we do. Focus is the root of all higher abilities; without it, nothing else can take shape in our lives. It is required for the simplest tasks such as making dinner and for the hardest tasks such as learning complex algebra.
There are many complex biological, environmental, emotional, and behavioral factors that can decrease our focus and concentration. When we struggle to focus, we often waste time, get frustrated, and feel that sense of defeat when we know we could have done more or done better. Years spent this way can lead to a lifetime of unmet goals, a scattered mind, and even failure to achieve the life we were created for.
A BETTER WAY
Improve your focus, and you will get better results. Stick with it over time and add on even more focus-building habits, and you will start to see a dynamic shift in your ability to do the things you set your mind to.
Improve your focus, and you will get better results.
Sensa Educational Systems
’ Five Steps to Improve Focus and Concentration
will help you train your child(ren)’s mind to focus by making a few simple changes in how you approach homework and study time. These five steps can carry over into other areas of their lives and even be used by adults!
It is best to follow these steps in order every day when your child sits down to do schoolwork. Make them a routine that he/she can depend on to complete schoolwork more effectively and efficiently. By training your child’s focus now, you’re setting him/her up to achieve great things in the future!
By training your child’s focus now, you’re setting him/her up to achieve great things in the future!
Declutter Your EnvironmentA cluttered space can lead to a cluttered mind, both of which decrease one’s ability to focus. Spend some time decluttering excess items from your study space, organize each shelf and drawer, minimize visual clutter on the walls and surfaces, and have only what you really need nearby. Less is more when it comes to improving your focus and mental clarity.
Create a habit of putting items back where they belong and tidying up daily. This will help you get right to work when it is time because you’re not so overwhelmed by a busy environment.
Seek SilenceIn a world full of visual and auditory distractions, it is vital that you seek silence when completing difficult tasks such as reading assignments and homework. Turn off the TV and smartphone. Do not watch videos or listen to podcasts while you work.
It is best to turn off all music as well. Some students may say that music improves their focus, but for most, it serves as a major distraction, especially if they are constantly reaching for their phone to change songs. Sensa approves of instrumental music during homework time, but it must be kept to a low volume and turned off if it ever becomes a distraction. It is best to listen to classical songs with simple instruments, not popular upbeat songs that have simply removed the lyrics.
Sit Up Straight at Your Desk or TableThis is the best advice to improve focus while completing schoolwork! Most students report doing their work in one of four areas: in bed, on the sofa, at the kitchen counter, and at the dining room table. These areas usually lead to major distractions!
While each family’s home is different, try to create a desk or table space that is solely for schoolwork. Just the simple act of sitting up straight at this designated space is enough to improve focus and save time. Ideally, this study space would be in a quiet area free from household distractions if a private space (such as an office or bedroom) is unavailable. A comfortable chair with arms and a swivel feature is the best choice for a study zone.
Turn Off Tech During Work TimeUnless a piece of technology is needed for schoolwork, all devices must be turned off or put on silent. Hours of time are wasted by picking up cell phones or getting distracted by notifications. The Focus setting on iPhones would allow a parents’ calls and texts to come through while others would be blocked for a period of time. Control your tech or it will control you!
Stop Switching TasksMany students get caught in the following hypothetical bad habit:
They sit down to start their homework. They begin with math, but when math gets tough, they start doing research for their science project. Then that gets a bit tedious, so they go back to math and get stuck again. So, they switch to English and realize they are missing something, so they begin to work on social studies. It is that constant cycle of start, stop, and switch that leads to wasted time and frustration. If enough time goes by, some assignments won’t get done.
One major reason for this constant switching is that many students don’t use their class materials to help them complete their assignments. They should be using their notes, worksheets, books, and practice questions to help guide them through their homework. Also, be sure to check any online postings from your child’s teachers who may have provided additional resources.
It is important that students stick with one subject at a time. They should start with the hardest subject first while their mind is fresh and stick with it until the end. Repeat until all tasks are accomplished.
They should start with the hardest subject first while their mind is fresh and stick with it until the end.
THE PRACTICE OF BEING PRESENT
When starting any new habit or activity, we can only get better when time is spent intentionally practicing. In addition to Sensa’s five steps, below are three suggestions anyone can use to practice improving their focus:
Increase Your Attention Span Five Minutes at a TimeWork on improving your focus by picking up a book of your choice, sitting at your study zone, and setting a timer for five minutes. Push yourself to focus on the book for five minutes without getting distracted. When this becomes easy, add another five minutes. Push yourself up to 60 minutes of uninterrupted reading time for middle schoolers and 75+ minutes of uninterrupted reading time for high schoolers and adults.
Stop ScrollingThe scroll of our phones, the fast movements of video games, and the constant action in shows and movies destroy focus and concentration. Build up your focus by greatly reducing the amount of time you spend using these forms of entertainment technology. Sometimes quitting a bad habit “cold turkey” is much better than trying to moderate yourself, so try to totally give up the entertainment technology that is holding you back. It is not easy to do, but it is worth it!
The scroll of our phones, the fast movements of video games, and the constant action in shows and movies destroy focus and concentration.The constant, fast-paced entertainment on our devices makes the real world much less appealing for many people, which is not what God intended for us. Get outside, meet friends without the screens, start a hobby, strive to get better grades, go to church, etc. You will not only improve your focus, but you will live your real life to its fullest!
You will not only improve your focus, but you will live your real life to its fullest!
Take Out Your AirPodsThis one is very controversial among students. Most are shocked when told that AirPods damage their ability to focus and thereby achieve their goals, but it is true. The rise of AirPods has created a surge in auditory distractions: we are receiving constant input which can lead to a lack of connectedness to others, isolation, a cluttered mind, lack of situational awareness, and stimulation overload. Also, the long-term effects of wearing Bluetooth devices in our ears have yet to be thoroughly studied.
The rise of AirPods has created a surge in auditory distractionsAdditionally, it is way too easy to secretly use them in class or while doing homework, which of course decreases focus. Parents are urged to resist purchasing AirPods for their child(ren). If students need to use earphones, they can use the corded models for schoolwork.
COMMITTING TO CONCENTRATE
No matter how distracted or scattered you or your child may feel today, making simple changes that will put you on a more productive path as God intended. Understand that you were created for a purpose, and that purpose will be made clear once you remove the distractions and get focused on the next task at hand.
May God bless you as you seek to become more focused on the things that truly matter!
“Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.” –Psalm 90:12 (NLT)
you were created for a purpose, and that purpose will be made clear once you remove the distractions and get focused on the next task at hand.
Nicole Grunwald is the President and Director of Education at Sensa Educational Systems, an organization founded in 1970 that has helped prepare over 1 million students for high school and college with its simple systems for success. Nicole started her career with Sensa in 2009 and has taught in over 25 private Christian schools throughout Florida, including CCA. Calvary Christian Academy has partnered with Sensa since 2014 by offering SAT/ACT Prep and Success Skills courses to students. Spots are still open for her summer courses that begin July 18; sign up today using the links above!