How to Focus - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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Higher Education
November 24, 2015

How to Focus

Being a college student can be difficult and stressful at times. Students constantly have a million things to do, but never seem to have enough time to do them all. I find that one of my main problems is that it’s hard for me to focus. Whether in class, while doing homework, or even when talking to my friends, I have trouble focusing. When you have a lot going on in your life, focusing on what you need to do is hard. Here are five simple steps that spell FOCUS that may just help you focus on finishing your next paper or studying for a final.

Faith

When slammed with assignments and tests, putting faith on the back burner can easily happen. But when stressed, tired and overwhelmed, digging into God’s word and making faith a priority is most important. Waking up, going straight to class, staying busy all day, getting caught up doing homework, and then going straight to bed without even spending 15 minutes reading the Bible, praying or simply thanking God for the day can happen so easily.

But I find that stopping to talk to God—even for just a few minutes—allows me to destress, clear my mind and better focus on everything else I have to do. God is a God of peace and when I am right with Him,  I remember that I do not need to be stressed because He is in control.

Organization

If you were to see my dorm room, you would probably call me a hypocrite for telling people that they should be more organized. However, I have made major improvements to become more organized. Instead of clothes being all over my floor, I now have a clean pile and a dirty pile—that’s right; I’m basically an organizational master, now! Small things like having a clean room, clothes organized, and books in place help focus tremendously. It has been proven that working at a clean and organized desk versus a cluttered one helps people focus better and think more clearly.

My goal to spend just five minutes every day simply picking up and organizing. This doesn’t take much effort (and I don’t always succeed), but it has had a huge impact! Instead of running around in the morning before class stressing about how I can’t find shoes or the shirt I was going to wear, I now know where everything is, which gives me more time to relax, do homework, sleep or anything else I need to do.

Calendar

I have always hated calendars. I don’t know why, but I never used them before college. But after being a hot mess my freshman year trying to remember things and keep track of assignments plus my work schedule, I decided to try a calendar out this semester. And I must admit that it helped out—a lot! I should have been using a calendar my entire life. Keeping a calendar has helped me focus because I am always aware of when tests are scheduled and what assignments are due when. Instead of having to ask people or look things up all the time, everything I do is in one convenient spot.

This saves time and reduces stress. It also assists me in prioritizing my time and has helped me develop better time-management skills. I forget less, am more prepared and have time to do more things. My brain feels de-cluttered because I don’t have to worry about forgetting things. I even have to-do lists written on my calendar. I am able to devote my attention to the highest priority things and not worry about other things, which is more efficient and allows me to focus on one thing at a time.

Unwind

Although the previous steps  provide more things for you to do in order to focus, this step is the opposite. You actually need to stop doing so much! Unwinding is a crucial part to being focused. If you are constantly going and have no time to rest or have fun, you will not be able to focus. Studies show that students are more successful when they spend a designated time period to work on school, then relax, then work again as opposed to working for hours on end. There are exceptions; some days are crazy and you may not be able to rest. However, not having time to unwind should be the exception, not the rule.

The Bible instructs us to take one whole day of rest every single week. Not an afternoon, not sleeping in then working on homework—one entire 24-hour day of resting. This is the hardest step for me; I am not good at resting. But I’m working on it and am slowly but surely getting better. Take time to unwind is hard because there is always more you could be doing in college. But if you want to focus and more productive, then relax!

Sleep

This step is my favorite!

Not getting enough sleep is one of the most prevalent problems among high school and college students. Medical professionals have linked sleep deprivation to a lot of medical problems. Not getting enough sleep leads to stress, anxiety, depression, obesity, sickness, decreased focus, decreased brain function and a lot more.

Young adults between 18 and the early 20s (that’s us) should get at least eight to nine hours of sleep each night. Unfortunately,  I find it difficult to get that much sleep every night and I know a lot of people who are even worse off than I am. No wonder some of my friends and I have spent almost as much money at the Riverview Café as we have on tuition and still can’t seem to focus; we aren’t sleeping! But it’s a simple, yet immensely helpful, step to focusing. Get eight to nine hours of sleep every night and you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel, both physically and mentally.

–Kelsey Robinson ’17


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