Improve Your Learning By Revving Up Your Concentration Levels!
Written by Stephanie
May 8, 2023
Learning, however exciting, can still be challenging! That’s why you need good, constant concentration levels in order to learn effectively. It is well-known that knowledge and skills retention are best realized when your concentration levels are good or, better still, excellent and optimised.
We at Yip understand how critical being able to concentrate is for our valued Yipees who partake in the many courses and webinars available on our platform. So, read on to find out ways that you can rev up your concentration levels!
Why Concentration Is So Important For Learning
First, we need to understand what is meant by the word ‘concentration’. The University of Toronto defines concentration as “the ability to give something our undivided attention to the exclusion of other distractions”. The UK’s Warwick University focuses on the importance of retention with its definition of concentration: “the ability to direct your thinking in whichever direction you intend and to hold it for as long as you choose”.
Concentration is generally influenced by two factors, namely outside or ‘exogenous’ factors such as time constraints, and internal or ‘endogenous’ factors, such as our own motivation to do a task. Unsurprisingly, both of these factors are hugely influential in our ability to learn. So, if you’re unmotivated or feeling rushed for some reason, then you’re unlikely to be able to concentrate on learning a new skill.
But there’s a nice twist to this: being a little distracted from time to time during your learning can actually boost your learning! That was the finding of an MIT study in 2023. By being slightly distracted, you allow your brain to take a breather and to actually be more receptive to retaining new knowledge. So, don’t be too hard on yourself if you occasionally ‘lapse’ in your concentration, okay!
The Importance of Rest, Rest, Rest!
It’s obvious that the more well-rested you are, the more likely you are to be alert for learning. A rested brain will be a more concentrated brain. Good overnight sleep is particularly important for our brain health and general well-being, of course. However, even taking short breaks during the day are very beneficial to your brain’s health.
Where you sleep and how you sleep can greatly affect the quality of said sleep. Beware of all your gadgets: being surrounded by all the technology that is part of our modern lives can actually be terrible for sleep. All the ‘blue light’ emanating from electronic/digital devices can worsen sleep since they disrupt our production of melatonin, a hormone we need for restful sleep.
However, don’t assume that only long stretches of sleep are what the brain needs. In a surprising study, it was found that subjects who learned a new skill and then napped for a short time were able to retain new knowledge very well. Even extremely short rest periods could do wonders for the brain’s ability to retain new skills, the study found. Better still, the brain was also more receptive to acquiring further skills!
Other Ways To Improve Your Concentration
There are other ways in which you can improve your concentration so that you can be your very best learner. For example, eating healthily can be pivotal in your ability to concentrate. That’s because there are certain vitamins and minerals that are key to boosting concentration. These include your B-group vitamins, such as B3 (nicotinamide), B9 (folic acid) and B12.
Foods that have high levels of those all-important B-group vitamins include:
- egg yolk
- fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel
- leafy greens such as spinach and Romaine lettuce
- pulses and beans such as chickpeas, edamame and lentils
Magnesium is also excellent for the brain, so stock up if you like on:
- chia seeds
- dark chocolate (yay!)
- pumpkin seeds
- rolled oats
There are also practical measures you can take to improve your concentration levels during learning. Your physical surroundings can be very important in being either ‘concentration-boosters’ or ‘concentration-downers’. These can include everything from good lighting (as opposed to too-strong or too dim lighting), a comfortable chair (but not too comfortable, hey!) and turning off distractions such as a television or even your cellphone.
Multi-Tasking Is Overrated!
Yip, that’s right: multi-tasking is overrated! For too many years, people boasted about their ability to do multiple tasks at once, especially in their work. As if that’s a great thing! On the contrary, it’s rubbish: all you’re doing when multi-tasking is distracting yourself from the actual task at hand. That can be especially bad when you’re trying to learn new skills or retain knowledge!
Studies have actually found that multi-tasking is bad for business. It leads to an increase in errors and even a 40% drop in productivity! In fact, it’s estimated that in the United States alone multi-tasking accounts for a loss of productivity that costs businesses to the tune of $450 billion each year. That’s a lot of losses!
In 2020, Forbes had this to report about multi-tasking: “once lauded as the grail of productivity, multitasking fell further from grace this week as researchers at Stanford linked flitting between digital media and difficulties with sustained attention to memory failures”. Subjects aged 18 to 26 were found in the Stanford study to perform far worse when they multi-tasked in their digital tasks, i.e. using multiple media.
Even trying to find stuff on the internet can become a nightmare of multi-tasking as you click here, there and everywhere! That’s why search engine optimisation, or SEO, can be such as bonus if you’re searching for things to learn online. SEO is indeed primarily geared at online businesses as an ‘organic’ way of directing people doing searches to their websites. But knowing how to make the best of SEO can also be invaluable for you as a prospective student – so learn to use it!
Chris Evert, the famous American tennis player, once said: “Ninety percent of my game is mental. It’s my concentration that has gotten me this far.” She should know a thing or two about winning through concentration. After all, she won 18 Grand Slam singles titles during her career, including a record seven French Open titles!
So, be inspired by what Chris Evert had to say about concentration and always remember that your brain’s health and your well-being are central to your concentration. Now go on and get those concentration levels revving!