Do you find it hard to focus when you study or attend class? Effective concentration can help you understand material better and decrease the time necessary for mastering the material by being more mentally efficient. Use this worksheet to help identify some of your causes of poor concentration and how to eliminate them.

External Distractions

To eliminate external distractions, FIND A GOOD PLACE TO STUDY.

Do you:

  • Use your study space for sleeping, hobbies, eating, etc.?
  • Study in a place with poor lighting and ventilation?
  • Study in an overly comfortable, reclining, big, fluffy, chair?
  • Study in a place without all your necessary materials, i.e. note cards, stapler, highlighters, etc.?
  • Listen to the radio or TV while you study?
  • Frequent the refrigerator while you study?
  • Sit in view of heavy traffic or exciting events when you study?

If you checked any of these boxes...just stop doing it! It really is that simple. Research shows that each of these items can affect the amount of material that is learned while you study. It is strongly recommended that if you do any of these, then stop.


  • Make sure your desk is big enough to neatly hold all your study materials.

Internal Distractions

Worries, daydreams, personal problems, and thinking of other things can all cause a break in your concentration.

Do you:

  • Spend time trying to decide what to study?
  • Daydream?
  • Worry about personal problems?

Internal distractions are more difficult to eliminate than external ones. Reducing them is not a matter of will power, but rather involves planning and finding ways to FREE YOUR MIND FOR STUDYING. If you checked any of these boxes try these helpful tips:


  • Before you sit down to study decide weekly what you are going to study and when.
  • Try having more frequent, shorter study periods to lessen your chance of getting distracted.
  • Take short, 10 minute breaks. Close your eyes, listen to calming music, and clear your mind.
  • Set time aside to take positive steps towards coping with personal problems.
  • List and prioritize your personal problems and develop a plan to deal with them.
  • Jot down appointments, ideas, errands, etc. at the time you think of them so you can review them later and avoid getting distracted by them now.

Physical and Mental Fatigue

Your physical health affects your mental health. Taking steps to IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH will also improve your ability to concentrate.

Do you:

  • Frequently eat fast food, unhealthy portion sizes, unbalanced meals, or other junk foods?
  • Get less/more than 7-9 hours of sleep each night?
  • Not exercise regularly?
  • Frequently burn out or experience mental fatigue?

We all know the importance of diet, exercise, and sleep. We are also all too familiar with how difficult it is sometimes to make them happen. If you checked any of these boxes, here are some helpful tips:


  • Plan and write down all of your healthy meals for the week, then shop accordingly.
  • Schedule sleep!
  • Try to avoid watching TV, using the computer/cell phone, or exercising one hour before sleep.
  • Schedule appointments in the morning to avoid excessive sleep.
  • Schedule regular exercise times and chose a variety of exercise types i.e. hiking, yoga, cycling, athletics, etc. to avoid the monotony of “going to the gym.”
  • Divide your study time among different subjects to avoid tedium.
  • Create interest in the subject you are studying