Focus and concentration
Concentration and motivation
If you are to study effectively, concentration is crucial. But how do you remain focused? Concentration starts with motivation. You have to want to know something, want to understand it and want to master it. For more tips on motivation, see the page on staying motivated.
It helps to set clear goals when you study. What do you want to do in your next block of study? Are you just going to read, or are you going to make a summary, for example?
Loss of concentration
If you keep checking the messages on your phone or laptop while you’re studying, your concentration will constantly be disrupted. Every time you’re distracted, it takes 8 minutes for your concentration to return. So, turn your phone off or put it in airplane mode and turn off all notifications on your laptop too.
Music has the same effect, especially if there are voices that you will automatically tune into. So, if you feel you have to listen to music while you’re studying, choose baroque music or a ‘study smart’ playlist on a streaming service. This type of music will help you relax, which will help you learn more effectively.
A quiet place to study
Where you study affects your concentration too. If you study at home, there are many distractions that can keep you from your studies. If you study at the university, there are fewer temptations. Especially if you arrange to study with a fellow student.
One of the advantages of studying at the university is that you can talk to fellow students about your study programme. And you can also access the knowledge, books, lecturers and the academic world that the university offers. This will help you engage more with the university and feel more at home at the UvA. What’s more, when you’ve studied on campus, you can really relax when you get home.
Study in blocks
It seems that your brain functions more effectively if you take breaks from time to time. The break will allow your brain to recover and it will be far more responsive as a result. 30 or 45 minutes is generally a good length for a block of study, but you should figure out your concentration span for yourself. Smaller blocks of study may work better for you. Concentrate fully during a block of study, then take a short break before you start the next block. Draw up a plan of what you are going to do in each block. Use an app such as Forest, Flow or Pomodoro to ensure you study in a focused, motivated way.
Or try the Online Study Space in Teams and take part in a self-study session with others. Students help each other in the Online Study Space to study and stay focused, and do this in blocks according to the Pomodoro technique.
Active approach to study
Try to read the study material in an active way, ask yourself questions and form an opinion on the text. In other words, don’t study on autopilot, but rather develop a helicopter view: look for connections, analyse and try to get the gist of what is being said.
Training courses and workshops
The UvA provides additional support for various topics through information meetings, workshops, training courses and groups. You can learn more about these by clicking on training courses and workshops.