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Tom Siebold

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Increasing Your Power of Concentration

One of the major roadblocks to effective study is an inability to sustain concentration.  A wide array of distractions, both internal and external, can work to derail your line of thought.  The trick is to focus and to direct the mind’s eye to the object of your study. 

Below are two study tips that may help you concentrate better.

1. Message Assessment

As you read or listen to a lecture, video, presentation, or discussion; work tirelessly to assess the validity of the message.  Question it.  Make judgments about the speaker or teacher by asking: “Isn’t that inconsistent?”  “I don’t agree with that.” “Where are you going with is argument?”  “More support is needed or give me an example.”  “This is a strong point.”  “Interesting stuff by I would like to hear more.”

Agree or disagree, but continually judge the message you are hearing.  The act of assessment focuses the mind.  Concentration is a prerequisite for good judgment.

2. Message Prediction

Concentration during study or listening can be improved by predicting where the author or speaker is going with his/her message.  This is done by quickly completing this mental formula as you read or listen”  “The author’s (speaker’s) last point was this…., supported by the such and such data or example…..  Based on this, I predict that he/she will next move to this idea or draw this conclusion….”

Undoubtedly you may not have the opportunity to work through this kind of formula all the time.  But when you find your concentra6tion losing power, recharge it by playing the detective. Search for clues to indicate where the message is going.  The activity of prediction with its processes of searching for meaning, of reconstructing arguments, and of reading between the lines will help focus your concentration.