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Focus?

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by HiddenTruth, Apr 30, 2004.

  1. HiddenTruth

    HiddenTruth Senior Member
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    Hey all--

    I was just wondering how you guys keep yourself focussed for multiple hrs at a time. I always find myself having to get up after an hr or even just day dreaming for an hr before i get started. Like, 5 hrs will go by and I wouldn't have accomplished much ( or atleast as much as I should have in 5 hrs). I know I dont have ADD now. I do well in school, it's just that I'm getting scared that when i start studying for boards and I need those 12 hours of studying to MEAN 12 hours of good work, that its gonna be hard. I mean i can sit there for 12 hours but my output surely isn't of 12hrs--know what i mean? And somedays it will be amazing and i won't even realize that 2 hrs have past. I want to not think about anything else when I am reading, and that is all i want to focus on. Anyone else experience this? and how do you overcome this? It just seems liek it takes me way too long to get through what I want and at the end of the day when i think back to everything I have read, the time spent is not representative on the amount of work I have done--ya know? Any suggestions?
     
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  3. Doc Ivy

    Doc Ivy Miss Understood
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    Yes, I totally know the feeling... some days you just get into your groove, other days it's embarrasing how little you get done even though you're making an honest to goodness effort to sit and study. I don't have an answer though, I just plow through, and try to forgive myself to not being totally efficient with every study session. I mean, some lectures are easier than others and if I can get through 4-5 lectures in a sitting, some topics are so dense that if I only get through 2 lectures I don't beat myself up.

    Oh, and if you live alone, try reading out loud, or read while walking around, it helps me to focus.

    ~Doc
     
  4. Kalel

    Kalel Membership Revoked
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    Nobody studies for 12 hr straight. A 2 hr run is actually pretty good. I used to take study breaks every hour to two hours while studying. Breaks can include checking e-mail, posting on sdn, surfing the web, playing snood, etc.
     
  5. SilverAngel1110

    SilverAngel1110 just plain old me
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    yeah, sometimes i have good days (usually when i've had JUST the right amount of coffee - hehe) where i can concentrate for a good chunk of time, and then there are other days when i'm just all over the place every few minutes. i guess i've learned that the days i'm not in the zone, well, i'm just not in the zone, and i won't get much done no matter how much i try to force myself to focus. no sense fighting it or feeling guilty about it because i'll just end up more frustrated/stressed out if i do that. so i just do as much as i can and then put my books away until the next day. of course, it sucks if this is the day before a test, but in general, it works for me. :D
     
  6. gmcsierra

    gmcsierra Member
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    Most people think that radio and IM are huge distractions for studying. I can't read while I listen to the radio, but I can study notes. I find that if I have the IM and the radio shut off, I have a hard time focusing and need breaks early and often. If someone like my dad talks to me on MSN periodically, it is like a built-in break and a good chance to catch up on the latest. The radio helps to keep me energized I think, which is good, because there is nothing more dull than memorizing.
     
  7. madtowngirl

    madtowngirl Senior Member
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    I take lots of breaks. I think I really learn more when I study for a while then break for awhile, vs. study straight through. If I go too long, my attention wanders and I don't learn anything. But if I do some intense work, then take some time off, the stuff sort of soaks into my head and I've got it.
     
  8. Smurfette

    Smurfette Antagonized by Azrael
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    I have the exact same problem...I can't stay focussed. What ends up happening is that as the test nears, the adrenaline kicks in and the fear gives me short bursts of focus.

    If I notice I'm not focussing, I try breaking up my reading into smaller sections and allowing myself to take a short 5-10 minute break after the section to wake up and use some of the built-up energy. Plus, breaking up the reading into smaller sections and then reading through several sections in a block makes me feel more productive over a given period of time than reading one very large section. I also do mini-exercise sessions (like 15 squats or running in place for 45 seconds) periodically to keep myself from dozing off. One thing that I do that is probably not good is that the day before and of the test I usually will take a couple ibuprofen while studying (I once heard that an ASA or NSAID can help you concentrate...I don't know if there's any validity to that, probably a placebo effect that has become a habit for me).

    Also, try rewarding yourself. IF you read x amount, allow yourself to do something you look forward to (anything like eating a cupcake, talking to your significant other, having a beer at the end of your study session, watching your favorite tv show).

    FYI, almost everyone I knew got a little behind with their boards studying schedule. I was behind already on day 2 or 3. Just re-adjust your schedule once you realize how much is realistic for you to do in a day as early on in your studying as possible. I found that I enjoyed one subject a lot more than the rest, so I studied that first to get it out of my system. When I initially scheduled my studying, I did it subject based (2 weeks path+phys, 1 week anat, etc.); if I were to do it over again, I would do a set number of hours per subject a day, since I have a short attention span and switching subjects frequently would increase my attention over trying to do 8 hours on just one subject.

    Of course, everyone is different. Try a few things and see what works for you. Studying for the boards is draining, so expect to get frustrated and worried that you won't read everything you want to before your test, and realize that you WILL pass and you know things way more instinctively than you think you do. I promise you that you will be so sick of studying toward the end that you will likely tell yourself at some point that "if I don't know it by now, I'm not going to know it". It may sound kind of harsh now, but I think most of us hit that critical point in our studying where we just can't take much more and you get less productive as a result.
     
  9. ToxicFugu

    ToxicFugu Senior Member
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    I wanted to revive this thread to see if anyone has any new input on the matter.

    I can go about 2 hours of efficient studying without a break, but I want to build that up to at least 4.

    Has anyone read any literature on how to improve the time you can spend with sustained focus? (without ritalin, that is).
     
  10. roja

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    Almost no one studies for 12 hours straight.

    The key is to take a ten minute break or so every hour or two. Get up, walk around, rest your brain. If you want long periods of studying this is the only way.

    Here are some other hints:

    1. Make sure you are actuallyg etting enough sleep. Lack of sleep will make this time less effective.

    2. May sure you are doing active learning... reading and highlighting is passive and thus less effective. Writing and reorganizing material is active and you will learn better. You will also find yourself more engaged.

    3. Know thyself. Some people need absolute quite. I have to have music in the background. I also found chewing gum helped. And coffee.
    I also couldn't study at home.. to many distractions.

    4. If you get tired of studying in one place, try somewhere else.. sometimes a change of venue does you good.

    5. excersise... this really can help.. don't sacrifice it.

    6. Make study dates. even if you aren't studying together (studying different topics) knowing someone is waiting on you or is across the table studying tends to help you focus more.


    Hope this helps!
     
  11. ice_23

    ice_23 Economics Monster
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    Agree w/Roja.

    Also, I have such a short attention span that I actually work only for 15-20 minutes straight before taking a break to walk around the room or check a score or something. It works for me, and I get motivated to study the next 15 minutes just so I can get to my self-imposed break (a little strange, but seems to work for me).

    -Ice
     
  12. woolie

    woolie Intermountain West
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    Well, I can't go a real 12 hours but I can go along time on the right days. Of course, it's just like everyone said and I get zoned out and start to wander or have to start obsessing on some rediculous thing that happened once about a hundred years ago. When I start the obsession thing then I know I need to take a good break. :)

    For me school is so overwhelming that I am trying to find ways to push myself all day if I need to and so I try and break it up, do laundry in between, use a web page for Histo or anatomy or something like that. That way I seem to be able to at least move through the material which is key for me.
     
  13. Medpilot

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    You guys aren't alone. I can daydream with the best of them.

    Classes are getting to be beyond my 'talent' to fly by the seat 'o my pants these days. It's starting to really bother me. The scary part to me is that I am only first year and have nearly 95% of this stuff ahead of me.

    So the thing I keep telling myself is that I don't have to know it all. Plain and simple. nobody knows it all and so I don't either. The trick is knowing enough.
     
  14. Sean2tall

    Sean2tall Pathology Resident
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    I don't even think of it as a problem. If I have the whole afternoon to study and actually accomplish 3 hours of real, actual work - I am pleased.

    Embrace the slacker within!

    In all seriousness Roja made an excellent answer.
     
  15. roja

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    :oops:


    studying should not interfere with slacking or drinking.
     
  16. TTSD

    TTSD Sexually Deprived
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    just practice..

    When I started this semester, I barely studied. Now I study 6.5 days a week.
     
  17. toofache32

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    Back in school when I was a gunner, that ephedra stuff was unbelievable. But now you can't get it.
     
  18. Sean2tall

    Sean2tall Pathology Resident
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    :laugh:
    Haha.

    "I'll usually space out for about an hour. . .I just stare at my desk - It looks like I'm working. I'll do that for another hour after lunch, too. . .I'd say in a given week, I only do about fifteen minutes of real, actual work."
     
  19. HiddenTruth

    HiddenTruth Senior Member
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    ok so this is so wierd--

    i have been studying hard core for a pharm exam comming up---and ive been getting decent sleep (6 hrs or so), but starting this evening i am not able to focus my EYES--like i will read for 5 minutes, then everything will get blurry and i'll have to look away for 20 seconds or so and then i'll get my focus abck and after abt 5 mins same thing happens--this is so ANNOYING!! and SCARY! Any thoughts? Gosh--it's so inefficient.
     
  20. Danhenning

    Danhenning New Member

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    I like to study for 50 min and take a 10 min break... I do this cycle for about 5-7 hrs during the day and that is usually more than enough for me... I try not to get side tracked so when I study I am not IM'ing another person or on the phone, I treat it like business... Then when I am done I relax, workout and eat dinner... By the time I am done it is around 9pm so I watch TV and then take a hot shower and am off to bed... I noticed on my exams that it is better to know 80% of the required material and be well rested for an exam then know everything and not be rested.... My roomate pulled a all nighter for 2 days straight before exam week and after the first test he ran out of gas and ended up tanking the rest of the tests that week... Whenever I get down about my studying, I remember that thousands if not millions of people before me have achieved becoming a doctor so I am not the only person who has had to experience the rigors of med school...
     
  21. CaptainJack02

    CaptainJack02 let's stir and shake
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    did u just start wearin contacts? that'd do it, possibly.

    dude, you HAVE to pick up a book and start reading and FORCE yourself to read for at least 45 minutes. just force yourself, even if you start drifting off or thinking about other things, just FORCE yourself to continue. do this for around 2 weeks and it'll become a habit. i've tried ritalin before and that junk works - try half a pill and see where it takes ya.

    the other thing that i find helps a lot is to take an index card and cover the part above the sentence you are reading currently, and just read the sentence directly below the index card. and don't read the sentence word by word. just glance over the sentence and once you are done, reword it in your own words. i think part of the problem is that you're SEEING too much **** and are overwhelmed. by looking at the text one line at a time, you'll be more efficient and you won't be so overwhelmed.

    being **** scared and anxious for the mcat, i did the stuff above and it worked out great. do it for >2 weeks and it'll come naturally, but it's hard to get that habit swinging at first.

    good luck :thumbup:

    *edit* so i'm taking these bkgrnd bio classes b4 starting med school i'm having the same problems you are now that i'm out of my study habits. i got this book from the library.
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1582550190/qid=1098677313/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl14/103-8649300-2091042?v=glance&s=books&n=507846
    it's kinda lame to get a book on studying, but it's a book made for nurses/health professionals. take a look if you can.
     

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