Losing focus often during revision, or when working on assignments? The following five suggestions may seem obvious but are occasionally overlooked. We hope that our reminders will come in handy!
1) Lo-fi EDM mixes
Low-fidelity mixes spiked in popularity during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. No one knows exactly why these mellow mixes are so wonderful to study or work to—many posit that it’s nostalgia and sentimentality at work—but they’re incredibly effective and that’s all that really matters.
Try listening to one when you’re writing an assignment or working through a complex problem. Popular lo-fi channels include Lofi Girl and Chillhop Music. There are channels that create lo-fi playlists and streams with game and animation soundtracks, too. We’re sure you’ll find something that will bring out the studying mood in you!
2) Playing café vlogs
You can’t stay focused and productive every single second. That’s not how a human being functions. Turn to café vlogs during the times when you simply cannot memorise any more facts or add any more mind-map branches! Watching the café staff and owners go about their day is relaxing and calming, and watching them fulfil customer orders can be a visual delight.
I wasn’t too into café vlogs myself until a friend introduced them to me. I watched them dispassionately beside her…only to find myself playing three at one go when home and wishing I could sip some strawberry milk latte.
Fortunately for us, quite a few Korean café owners upload café vlogs regularly. One of them is Mejoo Kim, who owns both a cat-themed café as well as four cute cats. Another go-to channel of mine is 나징Najing: the owner uploads new vlogs every Saturday. Don’t say that I didn’t share the good stuff, okay.
3) Adjust the temperature
Remember Goldilocks and her journey to find porridge that’s not too hot or not too cold? Well, just like Goldilocks, everyone is different, and so is the temperature that you’ll focus best at.
Here’s some information that may help you discover what that is!
- According to a recent scientific study conducted by the University of Southern California, women are more productive at warmer temperatures than men[i].
- Another study conducted by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab found that productivity levels peak at approximately 22oC for office-type work[ii].
Now that you know this, why not set your air-conditioner to 22 degrees and adjust the temperature from there to find what works best? If you don’t have air-con in your room, don’t worry or feel discouraged! I personally work best in a well-ventilated room with a decently-sized table fan (positioned higher up).
A quick hack is to splash some cold water on your face to refresh yourself!
4) Adjust the amount of clutter around you
You may have heard that a clean desk makes for a clear mind, reducing the number of distractions, but what if I told you some clutter might be good for you?
If you’re working on creative work, a moderate amount of clutter may benefit you and encourage you to think out of the box[iii]. A preference for a messy desk may also signal that you can better adapt to change[iv], but this is a topic for another day.
In short, don’t feel too stressed about keeping your desk spick and span; a little disorganisation may be good for you!
5) Get enough sleep
I like to think that I can pull all-nighters to finish work or projects, but this is no longer true. These days, I only make it as far as 1am before my body tells me that I no longer possess youth or (self-imagined) invincibility.
If this resonates with you then hear it from a concerned senior—get the rest that you need to! That seven hours of sleep helps you binge less, maintain your health, and improve your learning ability[v]. Don’t push yourself if you’re already feeling fuzzy and are spacing out despite your best efforts. The adage ‘sleep on it’ exists for good reason!
If habit makes it hard for you to fall into slumber, consider investing in a sleep/pillow mist. Or count sheep. Or get an eye mask that forces you to shut the world out. Remember that habits take time to form, so keep at it and don’t give up!
You may have discovered that the suggestions above are all relatively simple to execute, so we hope you’ll give them a try if you haven’t and that you’ll have a fruitful work session! Jia you!