ASK MAYA APA
Dear Maya Apa,
I am sitting for my A-level exams this year but I can't seem to be able to study. Every time I sit down with my books, I get distracted and watch TV or listen to music. I am a good student so up till now I have done ok in my exams but I know if I continue like this I will not do well in my final exams. Can you tell me what I can do?
Thank you for sharing your problem with us. This is a problem many of us face when we have to study. We would like to point out some issues you need to consider. Are you stressed about something in your personal/family life? Did you recently suffer from any health related problem? You need to work on solving this problem if any of these issues are bothering you besides not being able to study. Most of us do not understand that like anything else studying is also a skill and it needs time and effort. Once we are out of practice, it is difficult to build this habit again. We cannot expect to build this skill overnight.
We should have a designated time for studying. As you mentioned that you are not being able to study, force yourself to study for at least 30 minutes for at least a week. This is to readjust yourself with your situation. Collect your syllabus if you did not collect it already. Calculate the time you have in hand and then fix a designated time to finish your syllabus. Try to maintain the schedule even if you do not feel like doing so, or you feel you are not being able to concentrate. Try to keep your schedule easy and uncomplicated.
Do not focus only on studying. Keep enough time to do the things you enjoy like watching television, hanging out with friends etc. Allow yourself to take frequent breaks during studying. As you mentioned you get distracted easily, then you can try using pomodoro technique. There are several steps in this technique. First, you decide your task and set a timer to 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, you take a 5 minutes break and then you sit to study again for 25 minutes. For every 4 pomodoros, you take a longer break of 10-15 minutes. The shorter breaks allow you to do smaller tasks like checking your phone or stretching. You can do something you prefer to enjoy during these small breaks. This helps you to be more attentive as you have already done the things you usually do to avoid studying.
Another point to keep in mind is your study area. Many of us do not have a designated study area. Some of us prefer to study in bed, some prefer the table, and some prefer it in front of the television. If noise and crowd is not a problem for you, then you can study outside, like in a library. But, as you have exams near at hand, we would suggest you have a fixed area for studying. Study anywhere you feel comfortable, but you should limit yourself form using the phone, laptop/pc or any other device that helps you to get distracted. If you are surfing on the internet or just scrolling through your Facebook notifications every few minutes, then we would encourage you to collect necessary items/content and study offline. You can use apps to block social media websites temporarily. Keep your phone, tabs, laptop in the other room when it is time to study. You can check messages, missed calls later when you finish your lessons. Try to follow your schedule and reward yourself for every small accomplishment. This can be something from buying yourself a fancy headphone to going out to hang out with friends. Allow enough time for revising and reviewing what you already learnt. Do not be disheartened if you fail to maintain your schedule. Let yourself relax and follow this through a certain period; you will notice yourself changing your studying and learning pattern. We hope this helped you. All the best for your coming exams. Feel free to share with us if you face any further problems.
Regards, Maya Apa.