Monday, January 15, 2007

You never know when you might need ... CONCENTRATION!

Here are the 10 commandments of concentration (originally written for the Bath University student paper 'Impact')

1) Thou shalt not study for hours without a break
Study in chunks of 20-90 minutes, depending on your interest in the topic. During your 5-15 minutes break, jump up and down, play an instrument or solve a puzzle. This is to improve blood flow to the brain, enabling oxygen and blood-sugar to reach it.

2) Thou shalt not study in front of TV
Find a good study location with no distractions. Research in music and concentration are still inconclusive, so that decision is left between you and your Ipod.

3) Thou shall not go without reward
Give yourself an incentive to do the work (besides passing the exam and getting a degree). Write down what motivates you.

4) Thou shalt not daydream
Day dreaming is the antithesis of concentration. Eliminate thought wanderings by using a Buddhist meditation 'trick'; attend to the present by saying "Be here now".

5) Thou shalt not be negative
Telling yourself off, being critical and having no faith in your abilities is motivation sapping. Set aside 30 minutes of "worry" time each day. Cognitive psychologists have found that anxiety impairs concentration.

6) Feed Thyself
Keep your blood-sugar steady with complex carbs and have a balanced diet of protein, vitamins and minerals to keep your brain alert.

7) Thou shalt exercise
Co-ordinate right and left brain functions with exercise, this stimulates the information flow between the brain's two hemisperes.

8) Thou must plan
Having a plan prevents you from having distracting and stressful thoughts about what you might be forgetting. It is also a good way to avoid getting overwhelmed.

9) Know thyself
Find out when you are most productive. Some people are "early birds", whilst others are "night owls". Accommodate your day/night time energy levels.

10) Thou must apply thy knowledge
Asking yourself questions, related to what you're reading, keeps you on your toes. Think about how you would explain the concepts to your family or friends.