How to Stay Focused When You’re Studying

Work for a bit, scroll through Instagram for a bit, do a little more work, then visit the website of your favourite store to browse the half-price sale. A little more work, then it’s time for the sixth coffee of the day (it’s only 11 AM).

If this sounds a bit like you, don’t beat yourself up too much. We’re all guilty of it, in one way or another. In fact, recent studies by Microsoft found that people now lose concentration after just eight seconds (which is one second later than the infamously scatter-brained goldfish).

Now, far from writing a treatise on the effects of digital life on our now-weakling attention spans, we wanted to do something a little more constructive.

So, with that in mind, we’ve put together some tried-and-tested strategies that should help you maintain concentration and build discipline. If that sounds a little stern, don’t worry – we’ve made it fun.

Meditation helps

Mediation has now entered the mainstream and is more accessible than you might think. With apps like Headspace and Calm, you can channel your easily-distracted energy from the comfort of your front room.

A leading academic study by the Association for Psychological Science found that just a week or two of light mindfulness training can improve cognitive function. Its results showed a definite decrease in mind-wandering, and a boost in memory capacity.

It’s time to get zen, is what we’re saying. Having to hold concentration, and focusing on the rise and fall of your breath, will prepare you for that revision you’ve been putting off.

Take a break

Contrary to what we said about scrolling through social media, having regular breaks is important. It’s how you schedule those breaks that matters the most.

Whether it’s taking your dog for a walk, watching funny cat videos or just making some food, taking a little time away from your work will give you perspective and prevent you from getting worn-out.

Let’s say, for example, that you work solidly for an hour – you deserve a 15-minute break. In this example, the ratio is still weighted towards study, but you’re allowing yourself a break now and then.

What’s more, Science Daily tells us that brief diversions from your work will vastly improve focus. So, there’s that.

Find a perfect study spot

Define what exactly it is you need from your study space. If you need complete and utter silence, your library will accommodate. Can’t you study without an array of snacks at arm’s reach? Do a supermarket sweep before studying, so that you don’t have to go out later.

Your environment really is important when studying. The smallest distraction could irk your already-dwindling attention span and, before you know it, you’ve packed your stuff up and are out of the library.

Work offline

This has a lot to do with the distractions of social media, and being online in general. We’ve all been down various YouTube rabbit holes, and having an open tab for your Twitter feed is asking for trouble.

Instead, try going under the radar. Ensure you have all the resources you need, shut down your computer and work like our grandparents did back in the day.

Admittedly, this might not suit everyone. If your discipline is digital-reliant then we’d suggest signing out of all social media. Basically, get rid of anything you think would distract you.

Create mental associations

If you like mind-maps, this one is for you. By summarising your study in a mind-map or spider-diagram, you’ll come to form meaningful connections while working. Your understanding will become far more comprehensive, and you’ll find studying the stuff easier.

This is especially good if you’ve been having difficulty getting to grips with your work. Exasperation and defeat are distraction’s nasty little cousins, so don’t let them get the better of you.

If you have some cool stationery, too, then you’re onto a winner.

Try to get some sleep

Those caffeine-fuelled all-nighters may be tempting, but it’s scientifically proven that a sleep-deprived brain is a dysfunctional brain.

When you’re not getting the required 7-8 hours, your brain works on a short-term memory basis, rather than retaining information long-term.

Try not to cram a semester’s worth of work into a few long-haul nights, is what we’re saying.

Anticipate your physical needs

It’s annoying when you need to go to the toilet halfway through an intense study session. Or if your stomach is a rumbling, cavernous distraction all of a sudden.

Your yogi-like concentration breaks, and you’re forced to submit to whatever bodily whim that comes your way. The secret to this is to anticipate your physical needs before it’s too late.

So, if you know you have a slog ahead of you, then just make sure you eat a little something. Or go to the toilet before setting down to work.

Yes, this probably sounds very obvious, but it’s the thinking behind it that counts. If you know your body, you can pip it to the post.

You’ll soon become immune to distraction. It’s not a student issue as much as it’s a symptom of modern living, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

If you found this interesting, there’s more where this came from. Take a look over at our blog, or alternatively, you can get in touch.

Dubai’s Academic Calendar

Boy Studying

Dubai’s Academic Calendar: Student Cheat Sheet

Are you so busy at university that you forget to take note of important dates? Don’t worry, because we’ve covered everything you need to know in our academic calendar for Dubai students.

September – December

During the first three months of university, you can expect to dive straight into your work and your new life as a student in Dubai.

At the start of September, you’ll be getting everything arranged as you register, get your lecture timetable, and get used to your accommodation. By mid-September, you’ll be in full swing, because you’ll be attending your complete lecture schedule. But it’s not all work in September:

Hijri New Year is a time for celebration throughout the city. No alcohol is served at this time, but most universities will close for a long weekend – so you can relax and take time out from your lectures.

When? 2017: 21st-22nd September 2018: 11th-12th September

After New Year’s Day, midterm exams begin from the start of October, so it’s important to carry on revising throughout September and October. But don’t worry, there are still plenty of opportunities to sample the cultural and religious holidays of this amazing country. Towards the end of November, universities take a break from lectures again for Martyr’s Day and the Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday.

When? Martyr’s Day falls on the 30th November every year

Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday will fall on 1st December in 2017, and on the 20th November in 2018.

And at the start of December, final exams for the term begin, but by mid-to-late-December, you’ll be taking your Winter Break all the way through to the start of January!

January – March

At the start of January, you will return to university after your holidays, but there’s still time to relax because your exams won’t begin again until the end of February. Your lectures will return to normal in March after your exam season, but you won’t have long to wait until Spring Break at the end of March.

Outside of university, this is a lively time in the UAE! In February, you can treat yourself at the Dubai Food Festival, and the Emirates Festival of Literature usually runs in March. So if you’re a foodie, or you’re more of a bookworm, Dubai is the place to be in spring.

April – June

You’ll come back from Spring Break in April, but don’t don’t take your foot off the gas just yet – you still have exams to prepare for in May! By mid-May, Ramadan usually comes around, which is followed by midterm exams in June.

The fast of Ramadan is usually broken in June, and wonderful celebrations begin across the city to welcome in Eid al-Fitr. From restaurants and shops to theme parks and cultural hotspots, there are plenty of special offers and parties taking place in Dubai.

July and August

If you’re an international student in Dubai, it might seem a little unusual, but universities here continue with their exam schedules throughout the summer. In both July and August, you can expect to take your final exams – and you will receive your long-awaited results ahead of the new academic year!

Work Hard, Play Hard

But you didn’t come to Dubai just to study! Check out our favourite events in 2017/2018. From comedy gigs and festivals to art fairs and Eid celebrations, we’ve listed everything going on in Dubai that you’ll love.