Self-Bribery and Rewards Can Improve Your Study Focus
It can be very difficult to get down to studying if your mind wanders or you’re hungry or just plain bored. It’s easy to get distracted by email or Youtube. It can help your concentration if you build in small bribes and treats to break up your studying, provide goals and give you something to look forward to.
You know yourself and what can motivate you, but the following list offers a few suggestions that might help you complete a task or work consistently (with coffee/tea or loo breaks included) for a couple of hours. Promise yourself the reward and make sure you deliver.
A relaxing bath with scented bath oil, alternatively, do the washing up with lots of lovely suds and hot water to blow bubbles with as well, if you’re short of time.
45 minutes in the pub with friends, back in time to get to bed before 11.00 p.m.
A really delicious oral indulgence – dark chocolate coated ginger, seaweed peanuts, chewy salami – taking time out to savour whatever you fancy.
A quick spot of window-shopping nearby in the early evening, when it’s quiet, to look at that great dress, jacket or pair of shoes.
Television break to catch the news for half an hour or watch a favourite soap.
30 minutes to listen to some favourite music – really listen, not as a background to revision.
15 minutes to knead dough with your hands, or rub butter and sugar into flour to make breadcrumbs for crumble. (These can be put in the fridge to bake the next day.) It’s very tactile and relaxing.
Half an hour or so to read a chapter of a thriller or other non-revision reading.
A foot or shoulder massage to your flatmate and get them to return the favour.
Time to stroke the cat/dog that lives nearby, or any other furry, accessible creature.
Ten minutes to stand in front of a window and practise deep breathing, especially on days when you won’t go out till later in the day.
Listen to ‘A Book at Bedtime’ (on BBC Radio Four) in bed. Being read to conjures up feelings of warmth and security in many people.
Make sure you get out every day, even for a short period of time, for a change of air and scenery.
Little bribes and treats should include some that appeal to several senses as these can help you relax as well. They will also work as markers or a framework on either side of the revision you are doing and help you remember it.
You will also find that you can get more out of the time between treats than you could if you just carried on working, with no breaks or ‘bribes’. This is where you hit the rule of diminishing returns. You need to spend more time to learn less if you don’t build in breaks and little escapes after an hour or so of concentrated work.