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Staying Focused on Your Studies

If you find yourself doodling and dawdling more than reading and remembering, try these solutions:

■ Create a work environment in which you’re comfortable.

The size, style, and placement of your desk, chair, and lighting may all affect whether or not you’re distracted from the work at hand. Take the time to design the area that’s perfect for you. Needless to say, anything that you know will distract you—a girlfriend’s picture, a radio or TV, whatever, should disappear from your study area.

■ Turn up the lights.

Experiment with the placement and intensity of lighting in your study area until you find what works for you, both in terms of comfort and as a means of staying awake and focused.

■ Set some rules.

Let family, relatives, and especially friends know how important your studying is and that designated study hours are inviolate.

■ Take the breaks you need. Don’t just follow well-intentioned but bogus advice about how long you should study before taking a break. Break when you need to.

■ Select a study symbol.

Choose something you can associate with studying, such as a hat, a scarf, even one of those little trolls people keep on their desks. Whenever it’s time to study, just jam on the hat, wrap yourself in the scarf, or set the troll prominently on your desk.

It’s study time! Not only will this “get you in the mood” to study, it will serve as a warning to roommates, friends, or family members that you are working. Don’t associate your new “study symbol” with anything but studying.

Don’t wear your study hat to baseball games or leave your troll on the desk while you’re on the phone with friends. The instant your study symbol is associated with something other than studying, it begins to lose its effectiveness as a study aid.

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