How To Focus And Actually Get Things Done

 Amidst the pumpkin spice lattes and warm sweaters coming out, studying is about to become the top priority of all career girls on campus. Everyone knows how to attend lectures and take notes, but sometimes the trickiest thing can be carving out time in your week to do the extra readings and study for midterms.

If you’re at work, you can benefit from this article too – here’s how to focus and actually get things done!

Get everything you need at once

You know what will kill your productivity? Realizing halfway through your study session that you left the book you needed at home, you forgot your highlighters, or you brought the wrong notes.

Take the time to prepare – get a coffee, books, notecards, highlighters, whatever you need. Don’t use it as a stalling tactic, but make sure that when you sit down at a desk, you’ll be sitting there for a long while. And yes, a desk is a necessity—sitting outside on the ground or in a beanbag chair or sofa isn’t a good idea. Find a clean, flat surface that’s well-lit, where you can spread out your textbooks and notebooks, and do what needs to be done.

Turn off all the distractions

The Internet can be the ultimate time suck, but a laptop can be pivotal to your studying success. Download a program like Freedom or Anti-Social to block Internet sites you know will distract you. Listen to music that you know won’t derail your studying. Put your phone on Airplane mode, using it only as a watch. Use a local library or empty coffeeshop instead of a busy diner or study hall. Only study with friends if you know your session won’t turn into a catch-up!

Reward yourself periodically

Make sure you take breaks when you study, or you’ll end up frustrated. Watch a two-minute movie, or check your email, once every few hours. Or put one jelly bean (or pretzel, or M&M) halfway down your page of notes, and one at the end of the page and when you’ve read up to the candy, eat it. It’s a great way to stay motivated throughout your readings!

Make those sessions count

Sometimes those quiet, focused study sessions are hard to come by, so use that focus to accelerate your studying. Instead of copying out your notes onto lined paper, use index cards, writing questions on one side, and answers on the other.

Then when you’ve got a spare minute later in the week – waiting in line at Starbucks, on the bus home, you can flip through the cards, and quiz yourself. It might be in quick bursts, but you’ll get familiar with your material much faster if you study it consistently, even on those occasions when you can’t get peace and quiet.


  1. Some great tips, I am so easily distracted I find locking myself away from all distraction works the best and finding the time at which your productivity is peak is important as well.

    Zeynab :)
    The Beauty Load

  2. Having just survived my BA defense exam and starting an MA – confirmed, awesome tips ;) Always good these kinds of posts, motivating!

  3. Treating yourself throughout and taking breaks is definitely a must!

  4. On the topic of rewarding yourself periodically, it is SO DAMN IMPORTANT to schedule breaks! Sometimes it seems impossible because there’s so much to do but the key is to find balance and relax for a little. Just wrote a post on how to take a break without regretting it later, if you’re interested!

    The X Class – a success blog

  5. Studying is certainly not my cup of tea. I struggle with being able to study and retain information very badly. I found your tips very refreshing and they could definitely be helpful towards my study habits. I would’ve never thought to do more than half of the tips you recommended for us career focused college gals. You definitely think outside of the box, keep up the good posts!

  6. Thanks for those wise words of wisdom! I totally agree about the breaks bit but in between I always find myself giving up which can be kind of bumming!

  7. Great advice! Taking time to plan a session is key I think. I also always have a list in Evernote with everything I need to do that day. The more busy I am, the more detailed the list is. That way if I’m stressed, I know which tasks need to be done – even if my head isn’t thinking straight.

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