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I seem to have lost the focus that I once used to have. Few years back I was able to study for 4 hours straight but now its hardly possible for me to focus for 15 minutes. Any advice on how to regain lost focus in studying?

closed as off-topic by Buffy, J-Kun, corey979, Alexandros, Brian Tompsett - 汤莱恩 Feb 24 at 13:19

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  • 2
    First, talk to a doctor, perhaps a neurologist, to be sure there is no medical reason for the change. But just aging can be a factor. – Buffy Feb 23 at 12:52
  • 14
    what interrupts your focus every 15min? SE mobile app...? – user847982 Feb 23 at 14:05
  • 3
    Get rid of your smart phone, and close all your social media accounts. – Alexis Feb 23 at 21:33
  • 1
    There are many possible causes, but if you think a "phone detox" is in order, this might help: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/23/business/cell-phone-addiction.html – Elizabeth Henning Feb 23 at 22:58
  • I double down on Alex's advice: quit social media and any other things that can lead to lots of interruptions, and that don't require focus. It is important to drop these things even when you don't want to work: you can't expect you're brain to resist distraction when it is so prone to it on time off. This needs to be a lifestyle, not a switch. – Git Gud Feb 24 at 12:29
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This situation is not that uncommon and there are several approaches you might try. Few month ago I couldn't barely manage to sit down and start to read or write for my master thesis. Therefore, I also tried several of the possible approaches until one worked. The short answer is: Change something.

  • Plan to only study for 15 minutes straight, make a 5 minutes break and go back again to work for another 15 minutes and so on. If this works out, try to stretch the working time to 20 minutes and see how it goes.
  • Turn on or off distractions, e.g. I usually need distraction and noise around me to study, so I gave the opossite a try. Turn background music on or off.
  • Change the place where you study. Relocate yourself into a coffee shop or a park. Look for a shared workspace and try coworking.
  • Play games or challange yourself by setting small achievable goals and honor yourself for achieving them with whatever you like, e.g. some time off or treats. I know that this one sounds kind of weird but give it a try.
  • Take a longer break for several days, if you can afford this in terms of time.
  • Turn the internet off, i.e. no smartphone, no browser.
  • Try other working hours like in the morning or in the night.
  • Mix the material you have to study or the methods you use, like watching videos, reading, writing, summarizing, structuring, collecting.
  • Add physical exercises to your routine, e.g. short exercises of only a few minutes every hour (stand up, stretch, walk) and/or more challenging exercises once a day or every few days.

I'm pretty sure that there are much more options. These are only the ones I personally tried. Good luck.

  • 1
    The good old "change something"... – kubanczyk Feb 23 at 22:25
  • This answer has some very bad advice, and it's particularly surprising to me that it got this many up votes for both the bad advice and the lack of sources to back them up. Are there no psychologists on here? It is well known that shared workplaces are detrimental to attention. Do not reward yourself with time off, if you're in a state of flow (look it up) this is not going to help. It might be good to start off with small amounts of time (I don't know about this) but you need to really thrive for long stretches of focused work. Listening to music is double-edged look up attention residue. – Git Gud Feb 24 at 12:25
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Make sure you are having good sleep and rest periods, along with good nutrition, consult your phisician some times the mind could be reflecting some underlying medical condition. I also give big importance to exercise.

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Compile a to-do list. You may already use such a list, but you can try to make such a list more detailed and also include some limited allowance for activities that are now taking the place of doing the work you should be doing. Simply writing down such a to-do list will force you to think about what you should be doing and why that isn't happening, which will go some way toward fixing the problem. This will then lead to a schedule for studying that will work for you.

Writing down notes at the end of the day about what you want to do the next day is also a good practice. This will make it more likely that the next day you'll stay on course working on the things you should be working on.

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