We've all been there before: you're in the middle of a study session when the words on the page begin blending together. You find yourself reading, and re-reading every word but nothing is really "sticking." And it's no wonder. There are more distractions and interruptions than ever before, and they pose serious challenges to effective studying. But that's why we're going to share our favorite hacks to help improve memory and focus today.
Improve Memory and Focus: Hacks for Better Studying
Read through this list of hacks to improve your memory and focus and ultimately make your studying more effective.
Head for a Walk
You might be wondering how breaking from your studying to go for a walk can improve memory and focus, but it really does! If you have a big exam coming up, rather than cramming at the last minute, a brisk 20-minute walk might be a better choice.
In fact, studies show moderate aerobic activity can improve "cognitive control." So, before your next big exam, devote 20 minutes to moderate physical activity and you could find yourself recalling more information during your test.
Don't we all deserve a treat sometimes? Why not incorporate these treats into your study sessions to further motivate yourself?
For example, if you have several chapters to read but you're struggling to make progress, try this: Open your textbook and place a small treat on each section of text on both pages. It could be a gummy, Smarties, or any other small goody that will motivate you. Each time you finish a section of the text, you can enjoy that treat and reward yourself for the progress you are making.
Another option is placing a small treat at the start of each chapter. Before you know it, you'll find yourself making more progress and crossing off more chapters on your reading list than ever before.
(Do you also want to learn about how to improve memory and focus while you're at work? Visit this post next)
Read Out Loud
If you find you struggle with retaining the information you read, this hack is for you! Rather than reading silently in your own head, try reading out loud. And do it more than once. Reading out loud is shown to offer a significant boost in content retention.
Take a look at what this study from the University of Waterloo found:
"The study tested four methods for learning written information, including reading silently, hearing someone else read, listening to a recording of oneself reading, and reading aloud in real time. Results from tests with 95 participants showed that the production effect of reading information aloud to yourself resulted in the best remembering."
Notably, this method helps you store this information in your long-term memory. Sure, it may be easy to recall the information you read 10 minutes ago. But if you can recall that information days or weeks later? Even better. This method might not be the best choice if you're in a public space like a library. But if you're studying in the comfort of your own home, go ahead and read out loud as much as you would like.
If you want to improve memory and focus, you need to start by eliminating any obvious distractions that are getting in your way. If you find yourself reaching for your phone to check your messages every five minutes, just imagine how much of your study time this eats up.
Set yourself up for success by eliminating these distractions as much as possible, rather than relying on willpower to avoid them.
Here are a few examples:
- Move your phone to another room so you can't grab it whenever you want
- Find a quiet space in your home
- Leave your home and head to the library or a similar place if it's easier to focus there
- If you like listening to music while you study, choose music that is conducive to effective studying
- Give noise-canceling headphones a try if it’s tough to find a quiet place
We understand the temptation to power through a six-hour study session without a break. After all, you might be telling yourself the sooner you get it over with, the better. The problem is, without regular breaks, the chances of you retaining the content you study starts to diminish. It's true: regular breaks actually help with focus and concentration.
The experts haven't agreed on a specific time period when it's best to take a break. But the majority of evidence suggests this number falls between 50 and 90 minutes.
Here's what some of the evidence suggests, as explained by Neil Patel for Inc:
- The United States Army research institute discovered that ultradian rhythms have 90-minute cycles. Thus, you could take a break every 90 minutes.
- If stretches of 90 minutes are too hard, you can try a break every 50 minutes. The Atlantic declares that you can reach "perfect productivity" by working for 52 minutes, and then taking a break for 17.
Now, knowing how often to take breaks is one thing. But figuring out the ideal length of those breaks is another.
Patel also shares more insights on the ideal break lengths:
- If you subscribe to the Pomodoro technique, you'll take a five-minute break for every 25-minutes worked. After working four 25-minute Pomodoros, you take a 15 minute break.
- Peretz Lavie who researched ultradian rhythms, identified 20-minute "troughs" in the ultradian waveform. It's logical, then, to take a 20 minute break.
- DeskTime tracked their 40,000 users, and found that a 17-minute break every 52 minutes was the sweet spot for productivity.
It's no secret that we're big fans of meditation here at Neuvana. And when it comes to ways to improve memory and focus for more effective studying, meditation can be an especially powerful tool. Before you start your next study session, devoting even five minutes to mindfulness and meditation can make the course of your studying that much more effective.
If you have tried meditation in the past but it hasn't clicked for you, don't give up! There are several different kinds of meditation to try. Before you give up on the practice altogether, it's worth trying them all to find the one that works for you. (We cover nine types of meditation in this post)
Improve Memory and Focus with Xen by Neuvana Headphones
Finally, we need to discuss the power of vagus nerve stimulation to improve memory and focus. At Neuvana, we've made vagus nerve stimulation as easy and accessible as possible. While you're studying, you can simply pop in the Xen by Neuvana headphones, turn on your handheld device and listen to your favorite sounds or music while your vagus nerve is stimulated.
New to Xen? It's a patented electronic device that delivers gentle micropulses through headphones directly to the vagus nerve located in your ear. It pairs wirelessly to your Neuvana app, where you can customize your sessions. The result? Improved focus and calm anywhere you are. Now, just imagine what improved focus and calm can do when it comes to making your study sessions more effective.
If you don't wear your Xen by Neuvana headphones while you're studying, you can also use them when you're doing just about anything else. For example, if you take a 20-minute study break to go for a walk, why not bring your headphones along to enjoy the vagus nerve stimulation benefits at the same time? You can choose to listen to your favorite music while you use them, or simply enjoy the sensation in silence.
Not only can they help improve memory and focus, but there are a number of other benefits you can enjoy at the same time. This includes a brighter mood, better sleep, and improved well-being, to name a few! Want to learn more about all of these benefits? Visit this link next.
Or, if you're ready to shop Xen by Neuvana headphones and try them for yourself, click here.
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