It’s exam season but with so much studying left to do, how can you cut through the noise – both internal and external – and focus on the materials in front of you?
Chances are, your mind is buzzing with myriad thoughts – not all of which are jewels.
From what to eat to what you’re going to do once you’re done, these annoying thoughts that pop in and out of your head can prove to be a major distraction.
While you can’t just swat those thoughts away, there are ways to help you get into a state of ‘flow’ when studying.
If you’re wondering what that means, flow is a feeling or a state of mind when you’re ‘in the zone’. It’s not limited to studying, but can also be felt when you’re engaged in any other activity. In a state of flow, time stands still, and you’re fully engaged in that one task, which becomes satisfying to do.
While you may not associate studying with enjoyment, some students have experienced a state of flow while studying. So much so that in 2015, Korean researchers conducted a study to explore Korean adolescents’ flow experiences in learning.
So how can you enter that special zone to ensure exam success? Here are some tips from researchers, as highlighted in The Pursuit of Happiness:
It goes without saying that if you’re uncomfortable, your ability to fully engage in a task will be negatively affected, too. This means studying at a comfortable spot, wearing comfortable clothes and studying in a room with a comfortable temperature.
This also means removing potentially distracting things, such as your phone or tablet.
Identify the best time to study
Some students find they absorb information much better late at night, or early in the morning. Find which works for you and study accordingly.
This gives you the time to use the time of the day where you are less likely to be productive for tasks that are less important.
Make the learning process more interesting
You’re more likely to enter a state of flow when learning a subject you’re interested in. So, what do you do if you loathe subjects such as physics and chemistry?
One suggestion is to make the learning experience more interesting – try using a mixture of mediums such as watching a YouTube video about the topic, or listening to a speaker talking about the subject, to help you grasp any alien or boring concepts you’re struggling with.
Find the right balance
It’s difficult to enter a state of flow if your subject is too tough or too easy.
While this doesn’t mean picking a topic you’ve already mastered and going through them again, learning to get better at the task at hand becomes crucial so you can adjust your study methods accordingly.
The BBC notes: “We are more likely to access the flow state when engaged in tasks we’ve already practised. Think of the expert figure skater on the rink or the confident singer at the microphone. The level of difficulty should also be just right – not so easy that you find yourself bored, but not so hard that you get stressed.”
While this means that you can’t always enter a state of flow when studying, regularly revisiting your materials and improving your understanding of it may just help you improve your chances of entering a flow state when studying.