Thursday, October 15, 2015

5 Tips for Concentration

1) Remove distraction.

        Look around you. You probably see at least one or more of the following items: televisions, radios, computers, tablets and smartphones. Now take a look at your work area. You probably see a dish or two, some trash, pens and pencils, books, notebooks, bills, documents and more. Now, one last question, do you have a hard time getting any work done in this set-up?

        A 2011 publication from Princeton University Neuroscience Institute shows us that clutter restricts your ability to concentrate. If you have multiple stimuli besides your work, you are not going to be able to fully focus! There are a few ways we can remedy this.

        Clear your work-space of all clutter, such as extra paper, books, trash, food, smartphones/tablets and anything that does not pertain to your work. Even if you are going to move onto a new subject in 10 minutes, it should not be in front of you until you can devote your entire attention to it.

        Reduce noise by removing yourself from rooms with televisions, radios and other electronic devices. Noise can greatly decrease your ability to focus! A Cornell study supports this, saying that office workers exposed to noise were under higher levels of stress opposed to workers with a low-level of noise. Some individuals may find listening to music makes concentration easier, while others find the opposite.

       Try your best to remove interruptions by friends, family, work and extra-curricular responsibilities. A good rule is to put your phone in another room. If it is truly important, your contact will call you instead of text.

2) Check your lighting and environment.

        Choose an area with natural lighting. If natural lighting is unavailable, try to keep from fluorescent lighting. There have been numerous studies on the effects fluorescent lighting can have on your health. Long exposure can cause migraines, eye strain, sleeping problems and more. Fluorescent bulbs also have a green cast to them, compared to incandescent, and can make your environment look drab. (Source: European Union and

         Color can dramatically enhance your studying. Many studies have been done on this phenomenon. Researchers at University of British Columbia posted a study in 2009 titled, "Blue or Red? Exploring the Effect of Color on Cognitive Task Performances." They had 600 participants look at images displayed on either red, blue or neutral backgrounds. Participants seemed to recall information better with red backgrounds, while blue backgrounds influenced their creativity. Generally red is used for accuracy; blue for creativity. Many associate green with concentration and calmness; grey with negative emotions.

3) Choose your study time(s).

        Every individual has a time of day they work best in. Whether it's in the morning, afternoon, or evening, choose the time of day you feel least distracted. Then devote 3 or 4 hours of that time period entirely to your material. A daily routine is important to see results.

4) Accumulate all resources.

        Gather all materials needed for your study session - notebooks, textbooks, novels, calculator. pens/pencils, etc. 

5) Let yourself breathe.

        If you've been studying for 30 minutes, make a change of scenery. Move to a new seat, walk into another room, or get some fresh air outside if it is available. If you can no longer focus, it is time to quit studying. Listen to your brain and it will thank you!

        All-night study sessions may seem like a good way to improve academic performance - but it can overall decrease it! Read this really interesting article on The Science of Taking a Break. It reports results on the "impact of learning too much at once" and how to effectively take breaks.Your overall academic performance will increase if you let your brain rest once in a while. Taking a break is not procrastinating!

What helps you concentrate the most?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

NotGrass Curriculum: Exploring World History

        I recently started a new world history curriculum by Ray NotGrass. It contains 3 credits including world history, literature and bible. The NotGrass website now sells the 2014 version of this curriculum, but I purchased the 2008 edition. I purchased two paperback textbooks: 'Part 1: Creation Through The Middle Ages' and 'Part 2: The Renaissance to the Present.' Then I bought the Quiz and Exam Book with its Answer Key, along with the book In Their Words. In Their Words includes corresponding poetry, stories, hymns and documents from world history. This curriculum also requires you read several novels and plays throughout the year.