I am right now studying for a course which is really important for me and need to take the exam soon and get high scores so that I can look for a job. I am aware that this exam is very very important for my career and progress in life in terms of finding a decent job.

However, while I have been trying to sit and study, my mind just drifts away thinking about unimportant things and things which can definitely wait till I finish the exam and take up a job. I have to keep pulling my thoughts back to studies again and again.

After sometime I would have unknowingly drifted off and this goes on for a few minutes to long periods and by the time I am conscious of what I am doing a lot of precious time would have gone waste. And as far as I remember, I have been like this for a very long time. I desperately want to change this habit of mine.

I get terribly angry with myself and feel like crying when I am back to the world noticing how much of my time is wasted on these useless thoughts. Nothing has changed because of me sitting and thinking for hours, I must say.

Albert Einstein says-

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results..

This is me in several ways. Knowing this, I am still not able to control this annoying habit of mine. And I have developed another annoying habit of finding excuses for myself and to everyone around about why I havent finished my portions and why I am delaying taking the exam!!

Shame on me. I am guilty of all the excuses that I have given to myself for not having taken the exam yet. As a remedy, I meditate sometimes but again I just loose focus and dont practice it regularly. I try to be positive and when I wake up in the morning I put a time table and tell myself several times that I will today concentrate on my studies only and nothing will come between my studies and me.

I am trying the focus block method too. Yet its been futile :(.

Anything I take up I procrastinate. Despite knowing that what I am doing is wrong and really really want to change my habits I am not able to control my mind. I really really need guidance and help in focusing on my studies.

Can anyone please please help me..

asked 06 Jun '10, 08:04

AVBhat%201's gravatar image

AVBhat 1

edited 02 Sep '12, 14:09

Barry%20Allen's gravatar image

Barry Allen ♦♦

Thank you...../

(10 Jun '10, 12:43) AVBhat 1
showing 0 of 1 show 1 more comments

In a nutshell, you're in a negative feedback loop.

You feel bad because you're not doing the thing you think you want to do...but you can't do it because you feel so bad/mad at yourself for not doing it. And so you practice some avoidance behavior to keep your mind from focusing on the pain of not having done it, but that makes you feel even worse because you know you're still not doing it...and round we go around the loop again.

I've gone through this myself on a number of occasions and I've seen others go through this too many times.

And it also happens quite a lot with finances too. i.e. you spend more on things you don't need because you feel bad that you've spent so much already on things you don't need (perhaps with mounting debt), and so you spend more on things you don't need to avoid that pain, which makes you feel even worse that you've spent so much...etc....

You need to find a way to start focusing on the positive outcomes, not the negative ones, and turn that feedback loop into a positive one instead of a negative one.

So let's cut to the chase and get you feeling better immediately about this.

Get yourself a timer of some kind. A kitchen timer is fine, it doesn't matter. But it must catch your attention when it goes off - either an audio alarm, or visual notification...audio alarms are usually better.

Now make a list of everything you feel you absolutely must do today. Leave everything else for tomorrow.

Let's say you have 5 tasks (or 5 things you must study today).

Here is what you do.

Set the timer for 5 minutes and promise yourself that you are going to work on task 1 for 5 minutes only...and you are going to keep that promise to yourself...this is not a trick to get you to do some extra work beyond 5 minutes...this is about breaking out of that negative feedback loop.

So now, work on task 1 for 5 minutes.

When the alarm goes off, stop work immediately. Don't do any tidying up of anything unfinished. You must stop immediately you hear the alarm and put that work to one side immediately.

Now here's the interesting twist.

You now start work immediately on task 2 on your list...for only five minutes again. Reset your timer immediately to do this. Don't even give yourself time to think, just reset the timer immediately and start it off for task 2.

After 5 minutes on task 2 is complete, take a 5 minute break.

But again set your timer immediately for this. Five minutes and no more - and don't even think about your work...do something else completely. And also, during that time, just congratulate yourself for just how much better you feel for having focused for even that short period of time.

When the five minute break is up (your timer should have sounded), start work immediately on task 1 again for 10 minutes (5 minutes more than last time).

When that time is up, start work on task 2 for 10 minutes.

Now here is another twist, when task 2's time is up, work on task 3 for 5 minutes only.

After that, take your 5 minute break again.

So here is a summary of where we are so far, if you are tracking your progress (which I recommend you do).

Task 1: 5m 10m 15m
Task 2: 5m 10m 15m
Task 3: 5m 10m
Task 4: 5m
Task 5: (introduce this on the next loop around)

On the next loop around, you are going to do Task 1 & Task 2 for 15 minutes, Task 3 for 10 minutes, and then you are going to introduce Task 4 to the system for 5 minutes.

Every hour to an hour-and-a-half, give yourself a timed 20-30 minute break instead of a 5 minute break. I usually do this only at the end of a loop

Keep increasing the length of the timed bursts in the manner described until either the item is complete, or you reach a maximum length of 25 minutes. Don't go beyond 25 minutes per task...just keep re-entering it into the system at a length of 25 minutes.

This timed bursts approach is highly effective at getting you going again when you are feeling overwhelmed and it can rebuild your confidence extremely quickly.

For more information about it (and variations of it), I can recommend a time management book called Get Everything Done And Still Have Time To Play by Mark Forster.


answered 06 Jun '10, 11:55

Stingray's gravatar image


edited 06 Jun '10, 12:14

Thanks for this Stingray - I'm sure most of us have experienced negative feedback at times.

(06 Jun '10, 13:32) Michaela

A description of the problem, practical advice, a how-to and a book reference. Doesn't get any better than this.

(07 Jun '10, 18:35) Vesuvius

This is good advice for one of those "spinning your wheels" periods, that most of us have once in awhile.

(07 Jun '10, 19:33) LeeAnn 1

Dear Stingray

I wanted to acknowledge your help(I am not able to find a better adjective right now) only after I finished my exam to tell you how much this response of yours helped me in getting me concentrate on my studies. Today I went to the testing center all set to write the exam (I have been studying day/night since sunday!)however the center did not have the facility to arrange for my exam today and wants me to go back either tomorrow or day after. Although disappointed for not being able to give the exam today, I am confident that I will write it within the next 2 days. This is just..

(10 Jun '10, 12:38) AVBhat 1

to let you know how grateful I am for for taking me seriously and giving your timely advice. Words cant describe how thankful I am :).. Will let you know the result soon..

(10 Jun '10, 12:40) AVBhat 1

And congratulations on your reputation points hitting 10001 mark!! :-)

(10 Jun '10, 12:42) AVBhat 1

AVBhat, thanks and glad you found the information useful. Good luck with your exam!

(10 Jun '10, 18:25) Stingray

That was really good advice stingray! You are definitely one of this sites "experts."

(10 Jun '10, 18:53) Caleb 1

i was really happy with ur pattern and iam also wasting much time on unessary things

(16 Feb '11, 15:44) anitha


(05 Apr '11, 13:36) PRABHAT

Wow sting thanks for always sharing great info and taking the time to type them up! Have you use this for yourself? Seems interesting I can identify with the problem also and will do this tmr!! (0230AM here :O )

(05 Apr '11, 18:32) Imperfect

Glad it was helpful to you. Yes, I used this approach myself for quite a while. The creator of it has since gone further with it and created a series of free time management systems based around the idea of doing things "little and often". That's what I personally use these days now. http://www.markforster.net/blog/2011/2/10/rules-for-superfocus.html

(06 Apr '11, 08:33) Stingray

good idea to increase concentration power to particular topic thanks

(23 Jul '11, 18:59) pv.santhosh

good idea..i liked it very much..thanks for giving such a nice info on this site.

(19 Aug '11, 07:56) Rajesh
showing 2 of 14 show 12 more comments

Hi, there's a brilliant exercise I found in an old hidden gem of a book.

This exercise teaches you how to focus and to think efficiently without getting distracted anymore. It is called:

The 4 Roads Of Thoughts - And here is how you practice:

Pick an object or an idea. Let's take a dog for now to keep it simple.

  1. PROXIMITY: Think of any associated thought that comes to your mind related to "dog". First you might think of a bone or your own dog at home. observe this thought for a short moment then go back to the main object "dog". Let the second idea come to your mind. This may be for example a leash, or your dog's favorite toy. Again, go back to your main idea. continue doing this until you can't come up with more connected thoughts. Make sure you always go back to your main idea. Don't let, for instance, the idea of bone take you to beefsteak or such. Return to your core thought.

  2. CLASS: Here, you think of your idea's classes and sub-classes. In our example you would think of "animal" - return to main thought, then carnivore - return again, next poodle..., terrier..., German shepherd,...

  3. PARTS: Think of all the parts of your chosen idea. For our dog we have: Ears, fur, nose, tail, ... Be as detailed as possible. Again, always stay with the core idea.

  4. QUALITY: Now you you go through all the qualities of a dog. You might think of: honest, playful, cute, brown, soft, agile, 12 kilos, fast, ...

Remember to always return to the core thought after you put your mental spotlight on related thought.

I apologize for my English, for it is quite late already but I hope this gievs you an idea of this wonderful thinking tool which helped me tremendously in gaining concentration and clarity of thought.



answered 14 Oct '15, 14:43

EloiseC's gravatar image


A good way to stay focus is to study with a study group, or to study in a Library with a friend.

If you are studying at home, make notes, and get someone to quiz you, periodically to stay focus.

You can also get some help and advice from the Student Counselor Office, or you can also discuss your problems with your family doctor for some help, and I can assure you it will be well worth your time, and effort. Good luck!


answered 06 Apr '11, 05:11

Inactive%20User's gravatar image

Inactive User ♦♦

@Av Bhat Dear Bhat i fully understand your problem. you must understand that your body is your vehicle for fulfilling things in life. Cursing yourself all the time for what you have not done is like injuring yourself. you cannot injure it and simultaneously achieve things through the damaged vehicle.I bet if you concentrate you can find when you also do good things but almost fail all the time to appreciate yourself.Everybody has their problem but for not able to match up to our expectation is not a crime. This life is tough and cruel and you ought to give yourself appreciation for trying and thereby you will undo to the damage that you have done yourself to your self esteem. secondly, you must be self aware of your thoughts and understand the fact that favourable and unfavourable, good and bad thoughts are natural to come to your brain and you need to love them both , not hating the bad ones. They are just choices remember. last and most important one is Until and unless you confront your fear and embrace the pain that comes with it , you will never be able to have accomplish it. come out , Endure the pain and feel pride for yourself .


answered 28 Oct '11, 21:09

dheeraj's gravatar image


First of all don't get angry on yourself about losing your concentration or time. It happens to all of us all the time, especially when we're studying. Mind doesn't like here and now. It'll either go to past into a loving memory or blaming you for 'oh you lost the time thinking about irrelevant things' or into the future 'now that you're wasting your time in irrelevant thinking, you won't do good in exams, so we should try it tomorrow because today you've almost wasted all your studying time. We'll give it our best.' Please don't confuse your brain with your mind. Brain is just an organ, while mind is made of thoughts. So thoughts will always keep coming into your mind, because that's what your mind is: thoughts. The things is to concentrate the mind on the study or thoughts of study at that specific time. So if you're doing meditation or not or trying any other methods, it's all good (not important). I think you're not in it 100% or you don't like what you're studying. Hence it gets boring, and mind wanders. I'll recommend study groups because that'll make it interesting enough for you to study with concentration while enjoying yourself. If you don't have anyone to study with I suggest you join some coaching institute because even if you think you can do it all by yourself, atmosphere there will keep you concentrated. Also just don't think about any negative or positive outcomes that'll make you anxious and your mind will wander again. So if you HAVE to study alone just concentrate on what you're studying. Mind will wander and when you know that, tell yourself it's okay and come back to study again. If mind wanders again, it's alright that is what mind does come back to study again. As a writer what I do is I fix a 90 minutes time-slices and I don't leave my seat. Even if I start thinking about something I won't get up, I'll just come back to what I was writing. And if mind doesn't let me write I'll just sit there for time period. In 3-4 days our mind gets conditioned to study or writing at that specific time and we never loose concentration again. So take 15 minute breaks then 90 minutes scram then break. Try not to leave your seat, couch or wherever you sit. Hope this helps.


answered 12 May '13, 13:57

Pankaj%20Pal's gravatar image

Pankaj Pal

How do I remove community wiki from my answer? It was by mistake and I had no idea about me not earning points.

(12 May '13, 14:39) Pankaj Pal

Great answer. I just finally got a chance to go through and read your answers, and realized much of what I was feeling 'inspired' to write tonight seems to be simply repeating something you explained well before me. What a funny.. coincidence... ;)

Thanks for sharing, very glad to have you in our midst. ^_^y

(16 May '13, 07:03) Snow

well you are missing focus and you have lots of stuff not solved in your mind that is why. you lose focus and think about things that are not important. wall gaze and meditate remove those veils of the mind and reach dhyana. a clear and focus mind. experiance and enjoy.


answered 27 Jul '11, 02:55

white%20tiger's gravatar image

white tiger

Dear Friend, i m facing same problem as u r, i wanna give u a finall answer. read a book once name "The Secret" by Randa burn, i think u get all answer what u really want here...


answered 06 Jul '12, 16:09

aaa's gravatar image


i appreciated you because you want to control your mind. studying is nothing but enjoyment.you have to enjoy the study. whenever you feel uncomfortable while studying then think about the clever students.initially clever students may also have some problems but they change their life in a good way.you can also change your life in a good way.the basic thing is hard work.

unless hard work any goal can't be achieved so do that first.practice writing while studying.take a big paragraph.read it.while reading write the concept in a keywords manner. ex: we see the cinema in 3 hrs but we can explain it in a 15 mins. -----------------------this is my suggestion----------------------------------------------


answered 23 Oct '12, 06:54

neeraja's gravatar image


Mmmmmmm, it is a common state: most of us spend/waste a lot of time just drifting away. Here is what helped me: 1.Looking at situation from two perspectives:a) what is going to happy if i motivate myself to ACCOMPLISH (not just delay indefinitely) what i want/must do and b) what is going to happy if i don't. I apply this to most of the aspects that are important for me: my health and looks, finances, relationships... 2.Look for inspiration and truly, a library has a magic study atmosphere, it is in fact addictive. I am done with my exams long ago but i still crave the atmosphere. 3. Practice concentration and focus, these are abilities that differ a lot from one person to another according to our inclinations and neuroanatomy and neurochemistry. Check your health, i am not kidding; some hormonal and psychological imbalances can keep you at this procrastinating state because their symptoms can be apathy, lack of concentration,tiredness, anger, sadness. It is said that in the pre frontal lobes of the brain is the seat of motivation. Sometime ago i had a treatment for anxiety and the medication gave me terrible depression, i was crying, feeling low and was not able to motivate myself to do my work, exercise, even going out of the house was a chore. I am usually energetic and on the go.
4.There are specialized courses that teach how to build the mental ability to motivate yourself. However, they just teach and you have to practice. 5.Succeessful people are disciplined but most of them might not have been successful at all if they did not polish themselves or have been taught to be early in life. DO you want to be successful or just live your life in procrastination and all the disastrous effects of it ? This is what makes the difference between going through a mediocre or miserable life or a successful, happy life.


answered 31 Jul '13, 13:04

Aryanna's gravatar image


What I learned is that distraction can kill you! Walking across the street and your phone goes off in your hand , or you see something that catches your attention an....BAAAM!!!!! you are now the next death story on your local news; {news anchor says} person mowed down in the street .Now think of a time when you accomplished something that made feel good about yourself, the way you accomplished that goal was by focusing on a goal.Life is a battle field of the mind,whatever you think on your there.


answered 04 Apr '13, 15:48

Popi%20Bearcat%20Gibson's gravatar image

Popi Bearcat Gibson

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