There are 105 days to prelims. It is time to put the pedal to the mettle and increase our focus and ability to concentrate so that we will be able to attempt Prelims in top form. Therefore we will attempt to increase our focus through a deliberate study of the ideas and concepts behind Focus.
Right from childhood, we have never been taught the art of concentration. We may remember our parents telling us ‘you need to focus on your studies’ ‘you need to increase your concentration’ and they never showed us how to do this.
Therefore it is something we all struggle with even as adults. In this article we will examine how we can work on Focus as a skill. Focus and the ability to do so should be seen as an ability and a skill. As with every skill you need to work on it consistently and with regular practice. You need to be able to practice it consistently because otherwise you will not be able to ensure that you keep your skills sharp.
There are two components to the work you do on a skill. There will be times you will need to do ‘Maintenance’ work just to ensure that you keep your skills at the level that they are currently on. This will aslo ensure that your skills do not regress. Then there are steps you will need to take to ensure you are able to move towards mastery of the skill. For that aspect of our study we will need to work exhaustively and with increasing creativity. However, the goal here isn’t to become an expert level meditating rishi.
The goal is to improve your focus and your ability to keep your attention on your studies and increase the intensity and duration of your concentration ability.
There can be many reasons for a difficulty in focusing. We can attempt to explore a few of these below:
Sleep Deprivation. Those who lack a consistent sleep pattern, those who are not able to sleep atleast 6-8 hours on a consistent basis will experience an impaired ability to concentrate. They will also experience poor impulse control and heightened emotional states.
Lack of exercise. Exercise releases endorphins which help the person experience a burst of happiness, which can in turn combat feelings of stress and soothe exam jitters. By exercising, the aspirant may be able to boost oxygen flow to the brain which in turn will assist them in making sure that they are able to focus more in terms of duration and intensity.
Food and a Lack of Energy. This will lead to low blood sugar and decrease in willpower, impulse control and increased feelings of lethargy. This will also impede your ability to concentrate. You will also need to avoid junk food, processed food and food rich in sugar. Using sugar or sweet things to boost your concentration when your blood sugar is low is different from overloading your body with processed sugar.
Another reason why you may be having difficulty focussing might be because you have a medical condition such as Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. This might be something interfering with your ability to focus.
There is also a case to be made for a lack of prioritization and planning. The time available to an aspirant is slowly ticking down. So it’s time to make an active plan for the exam and start planning in order to maximise the efficiency of your studies. You can start planning on a monthly, then weekly, then daily basis.
This is also the time when you start doubting yourself and your preparation. You might start to become afraid of clearing and your ability to feel motivated. Therefore making a habit out of your ability to focus will help you block out the doubts and fears and ensure that you are thoroughly equipped to handle the stress that you feel.
Your ability to focus can also depend on the environment you come from. When your workspace is neat, your brain will be able to concentrate a lot better on the work it is doing instead of the clutter around your study space. You might also want to avoid your friends who are not very serious aspirants or people who bad mouth you and your preparation. These people will bring down your self confidence and distract you from your goals.
There can also be Psychological reasons for why you lack focus. They can be due to stress that you experience. Such as economic stress, from work pressure. Emotional stress from self confidence issues, family pressures etc, Anxiety and Depression that might take away your ability to focus.
That being said, not all stress is bad. The optimum amount of stress, that balances between you not feeling pressured at all and you having a meltdown, can actually enhance your performance.
Knowledge is power, and by knowing the ways in which you experience distractions, you can strive to stave them off. This will help you identify the places where you find your focus faltering and take care of that.