Make a List
We often have trouble paying attention to one thing because our brain wants to drift off to think about something else. When you’re supposed to be writing your history paper, for example, your brain may want to start worrying about a math test that’s coming up.You should get into the habit of making a daily task list. Then prioritize your list, in the order that you prefer. By writing down all the things you need to do, you gain a sense of control of your day.
If you think about it, meditation might seem like the opposite of paying attention. One objective of meditation is to clear the mind, but another element of meditation is inward peace. This means that the act of meditating is actually the act of training the brain to avoid distractions. And remember, you don't have to become an expert or obsessive meditator. Just take some time every day to go through a brief meditation exercise.
Studies show that people who sleep fewer than eight hours a night for a prolonged period of time have slower response systems and more difficulty recalling information. In fact, even minor restrictions in your sleep patterns can affect your academic performance in a bad way.
Eat Healthier Foods
Foods that are high in fat and sugar might give you a temporary burst of energy, but that energy is soon followed by a crash. Once your body burns up the rush of nutrient-deprived, over-processed foods, you will start to feel groggy and lethargic.
Reduce Screen Time
Scientists are just beginning to study the relationship between attention spans and screen times, but one thing is certain: many researchers and education specialists advise parents to limit screen time while they gain a fuller understanding of the effects of bright lights and electronic screens.
Join a Team
At least one study has shown that concentration and academic skills improve for students who participate in team sports. It could be that being active is helpful in the same way that meditation works. Participating in a sport trains your brain to concentrate on specific tasks, and shut out thoughts that interfere with your performance.
Just Be Active
There are also studies that show any amount of physical activity can improve concentration. Simply walking for twenty minutes before reading a book may boost your ability to pay attention longer. This may be a result of relaxing your brain in preparation for the task at hand.
Practice Paying Attention
With practice, you can teach your mind a little discipline. One thing you should try to determine is what is really distracting you. Pick a passage to read that you normally would not read (unless forced). It could be anything from a political report or an instruction manual. Start the stopwatch and begin reading. Try to concentrate, but stop yourself as soon as you feel your mind beginning to wander.Write down what it was that distracted you. Do this five times and analyze the results. Do you see a pattern?