Do you struggle to focus for long hours while studying or working? Oftentimes, without the right habits and without taking the right steps, students get easily distracted and burnt out when studying for long periods of time.
In this post, I’ll reveal how I get ready for a long study session and the things I do during it to ensure healthy productivity. Follow these steps, and you’ll slowly be able to study for long hours in one sitting, without getting burnt out. Let’s get into the post!
Find A Source Of Motivation
Before you begin, you should find a source of motivation to put you in the right mindset to get work done. This can be intrinsic or extrinsic motivation, but intrinsic motivation will be more effective for long-term success.
Intrinsic motivation is when you engage in an activity because you enjoy it. Extrinsic motivation is when you engage in an activity because there is an external reward or punishment that’s pushing you to do or not do something.
Extrinsic motivation can be effective for short times, but in the long term, you will become burnt out and lose all passion for the activity itself, which is not healthy. Therefore, you should aim to find intrinsic motivation.
Take some time to find out what motivates you to keep studying or working in a certain subject. Use this as motivation to keep going.
Prepare A Reward
If you simply cannot find a source of intrinsic motivation, try to create an extrinsic source of motivation for yourself. You can do this by preparing a reward!
Set up a system where, once you complete all the tasks on your to-do list, you give yourself a little award (such as a dessert, an episode of a show, 15 minutes playing a game, etc).
It will take some trial and error to find the ideal ratio between the amount of work and strength of the reward, but once you do, it will be effective in motivating you for a while! Make sure not to overwork yourself or be too generous with the award – find a balance where you’re genuinely motivated to work and keep working.
Clean & Declutter Your Desk
Now that you have the right mental space to sit down for a long study session, start preparing your physical space. The first thing I like to do is to clean and declutter my desk or study area.
Here’s a tip: don’t study in bed or on the couch. Work in a designated “focus” space, such as your desk; you could even visit the library or café if you’d like a change from your usual space at home.
Though you don’t need to completely clear your desk, you should remove all distractions: gaming consoles, books, phones, etc. You should also make sure the supplies you need are ready to go: pencils and pens, notes, textbooks, etc.
Here’s a post to help you out: How To Organize Your Desk To Maximize Productivity.
Plan Ahead & Write It Down
An essential step to prepare for long hours of studying is to plan it out beforehand. If you start without a plan, you’ll quickly lose track of your tasks, get distracted, and lose motivation. So before you begin, sit down and plan it out.
There are 2 steps I like to take when I plan a long study session: time-blocking and writing to-do lists.
Use a digital tool like Apple’s default calendar or Google Calendar to make time-blocks in the day, with each one designated for one task or subject. This will help you stay on track and accountable for your time. Here’s an example of what a time-blocked study session could look like on Google Calendar:
Writing to-do lists
Though I have each subject or assignment listed on the calendar as a timeblock, I write most of the details of the assignment on a to-do list. I try to be as concise as possible when writing my tasks; remember to break down large projects into smaller steps to avoid feeling overwhelmed!
Though I prefer writing a physical to-do list (on a piece of paper or on my planner), you can also make it digital. Google Workspace has a feature called Tasks that allows for easy synchronization with your calendar:
YOU’LL LOVE THIS POST: 9 Powerful Daily Habits For Productivity
Remove All Distractions
Even if you’re highly motivated and determined to focus for a long time, distractions– if you don’t take steps to remove them– will appear and knock you off track. It is essential that you prevent this from happening by removing all distractions from your area before a study session.
Though I already touched on some things to do earlier in the post, here are some more detailed and actionable steps:
First, turn off all social media notifications on all your devices. You don’t need to delete the apps, but make sure you won’t be tempted to open them while studying.
Next, try to minimize the number of tabs open on your device. The more tabs you have open, the more difficult it will be to always stay on the right ones. If you need all the tabs, organize them with tab groups:
If you have a device you tend to use a lot for gaming or relaxing (such as an iPad for watching shows and playing games), put it away on the other side of the room or out of the room.
Also, make sure you’re not hungry while studying by snacking a little before starting. If you didn’t get enough sleep, take a short (15-20 minutes) nap to energize yourself.
Lastly, force yourself to get back on track when you are getting distracted. Take a deep breath, recollect your thoughts, organize your to-do list, and get back to work.
One Thing At A Time
It may feel overwhelming to have to sit down for hours and work on many projects. Your to-do list may seem intimidating in length, making you lose your motivation before even starting.
To prevent this from happening, prioritize your tasks and take things one at a time. Analyze your to-do list and pick out the most important. You can do this by considering its urgency and importance. Here’s a printout to help you out (download it from my Freebie Library):
Once your tasks are all organized, go down the list one at a time. You should schedule time blocks accordingly, giving a reasonable amount of time to each task.
Have Some Healthy Snacks
Depending on how long you’re studying for, you may get a little hungry in the middle. Though it’s always a good idea to have meals before you start (don’t start hungry!), some snacks are welcome during the study session.
However, make sure you are consuming healthy snacks that stimulate the brain and don’t make a mess. These can be vegetables and fruits, or other snacks such as:
- Baby carrots
- String cheese
- Dry cereal
- Trail mix
- Energy bar
If you’re in a public place (such as a library), avoid crunchy and crumbly snacks. Otherwise, feel free to bring a small bag of any healthy snack and munch on it when you get hungry!
Take Breaks In Between
Last but certainly not least, remember to take breaks at reasonable intervals during your long study session! Without taking breaks, there will be a much higher chance of being burnt out and thus being less productive.
You can use the Pomodoro technique, in which you focus for 25 minutes, then take a break for 5 minutes, and repeat. This works well for any single task that takes a long time to complete.
However, since most of my tasks are smaller in size, I like to alter the Pomodoro technique a little: 40-60 minutes focusing on a task (ideally finishing it), then 10 minutes of rest. This helps me maintain momentum on each task.
The work-break interval will vary for each person, so take some time to try out different schedules to see which works best for you.
And that’s it! These techniques have helped me stay motivated and focused in long study sessions, and I hope they will help you, too! If you enjoyed this post, check out these related ones:
- 5 Common Myths About Studying That Are Ruining Your Productivity
- 60 Life-Changing Habits To Build This Semester
- How To Effectively Remember Everything You Study