May 30, 2018
When working on homework or studying for a test, do you ever have a hard time concentrating on tasks? Do you ever feel fidgety or restless? Is your mind filled with dozens of thoughts — every thought except what you should be focused on?
Everybody gets distracted sometimes, including people who struggle with ADHD, or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Nearly 5% of adults (ages 18-44) experience symptoms of ADHD1 and the amount of individuals experiencing these symptoms continues to rise.2 While this can make continuing in school a seemingly daunting task, becoming a successful student, or even a university graduate, is still an achievable goal!
So whether you’ve been diagnosed with ADHD or just struggle focusing in general, don’t lose hope. There are simple tricks that can help keep your mind focused and help you move toward reaching your educational goals!
1. Find a distraction-free environment
Finding a place that’s free of distractions is a good place to start. Instead of trying to get homework done and watch television at the same time, remove everything that may be a distraction from accomplishing a task. Doing this can help you stay focused and finish your work in a timely manner.
Robert Segal, M.A., and Melinda Smith, M.A., of HelpGuide.org said, “Face your desk towards a wall and keep your workplace free of clutter. To discourage interruptions, you could even hang a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign. If possible, let voicemail pick up your phone calls and return them later. If noise distracts you, consider noise-canceling headphones or a sound machine.”3
2. Listen to music
Listening to some background music can help keep your subconscious occupied as you complete your assignments.4 Look for some instrumental music to play; however, music with lyrics, especially familiar songs, might cause your mind to wander.
Dana Rayburn, senior certified ADHD coach and author, said, “Music gives the ADHD brain something to focus on which lights up the synapses and engages the brain. The right tune with the right beat dissolves those familiar ‘I don’t feel like doing it’ and ‘I can’t focus’ feelings and urges you into action.”5
3. Move around to occupy the mind
Instead of trying to sit down and force yourself to focus, try walking around while you study. By moving and studying simultaneously, the mind will be focused on the content you are reviewing. In a place where walking around isn’t an option, consider carrying a fidget toy, stress ball, string, or even a bracelet.
Roland Rotz, clinical psychologist and director of the Lifespan Development Center, said, “It’s true that many people are successful only when they do one thing at a time, but for adults and children with ADHD the opposite is usually true…. Doodling while listening to a lecture or when on a long phone call enables you to better absorb what’s being said. Walking while talking helps your mind tune in to a conversation without missing a beat.”6
4. Turn to Heavenly Father for guidance
Along with appropriate medication and therapy, turning to Heavenly Father in prayer and asking for help is one of the best ways to get focused. As you turn to God in your struggles and do your part, He can and will help you achieve your goals.
President Russell M. Nelson said, “Trials must be borne and grief endured along the way. As you remember that ‘with God nothing shall be impossible,’7 know that He is your Father…. It matters not that giants of tribulation torment you. Your prayerful access to help is just as real as when David battled his Goliath.”
Your goals are attainable
If you get distracted easily, don’t get discouraged. It is a normal occurrence for students around the world. As you take the time to create effective study habits and lean on the Lord, He can help you keep a focused mind and reach your goals.
To learn more about BYU-Pathway Worldwide, visit byupathway.lds.org.