Optimizing Attention: A Guide for Effective Study Plans (Part 1)
PART 1: Prepare a personalized study plan
To make the most of your study time, it’s important to optimize your attention. This worksheet will help you identify factors that influence you attention, and allow you to develop a personalized study approach. As you analyze your attention and work habits, consider talking with your friends or family to get more perspectives from those that know you well.
STEP 1: Attention helpers and blockers
List the sorts of things that positively and negatively influence your attention.
Factors that increase my attention and productivity? (Incorporating movement into studying? Having background noise?)
Factors that get in the way of my attention and productivity? (Sitting with friends? Social media?)
STEP 2: Signs you may be off-task
Identify the warning signs that your attention is drifting so that you can be prompted to refocus or take a break.
Fidgeting, tensing muscles, wandering eyes… What else?
Day-dreaming, re-reading paragraphs, unable to solve a problem… What else?
On social media, talking with friends, feeling bored or frustrated… What else?
STEP 3: Think about time!
How long can you work before needing a break? What length break is optimal? What kind of break recharges you? What times of day is your attention at its best? What times of day does your attention wane?
STEP 4: Choose your study environment carefully!
Do you focus better in absolute silence or with background noises? Do peers help or hinder your focus? Is your focus compromised in your room or certain library locations? Study Spaces at UNC
STEP 5: Other considerations?
Have you: organized your materials, prioritized your tasks, selected a study method? Do you need food, drink, a study partner?
Now check out PART 2 to learn how to track and monitor your attention, and evaluate your study approach!
REMEMBER: The UNC Learning Center is a great resource! Both Peer Tutoring and Academic Coaching can help you create a balanced approach to succeeding at Carolina. Our friendly staff is ready to help—drop by or make an appointment!
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 License.
You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Learning Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
If you enjoy using our handouts, we appreciate contributions of acknowledgement.