Some people like to keep a pad of paper nearby as they work so that they can jot down or write out interruptive thoughts and distracting ideas. By doing this you don't risk worrying that you will forget about these tasks, and you acknowledge that the concerns are important enough to warrant attention, but not so important that they must come before your work.
It is often a good idea to "park" ideas that are bothersome and tend to distract. This idea involves setting a time when you will deal with a particular problem or concern and leaving it behind temporarily while you focus on other things.
Try to determine a clear goal for what you want to accomplish for the learning session. This may assist you in focusing your attention on the specific tasks at hand, one by one, and provide you with important feedback about your progress.
Try to focus on the task at hand and avoid looking into the potential longer term consequences of doing well or poorly which often leads to catastrophizing. .do the most important tasks first so that you can know that anything else that comes to mind as a distraction is less important than the thing you are doing.
Try to maintain an "I'll try to do the very best I can under the circumstances" attitude rather than an "It must be perfect" one.
Learn to recognize when a distracter is more important than the task you're presently doing. Deal directly with the cause of that distracter whenever possible. Sometimes by removing the cause of a major distracter, it is possible to save time that would be wasted worrying later on.
Try to maintain a regular place for study which is free of your bigger distractions, such as the TV, the fridge, and so on.
Keep your work space free of clutter and try to keep it dedicated to the task of study. Sometimes this reduces distractions and assists you reaching a better state of concentration. Reading on the bed, for example, is probably not a good idea for good concentration. Working at a desk that you always use for such purposes will support better concentration.
Try to work for a set period of time so that you know an end point is in sight. Restlessness sometimes gets worse when it seems that the work you are doing has no end in sight.
Try to have all your books, notes and working tools available. Needing to get up to search for lost or misplaced items can add to distractions.
To reduce the anxiety associated with preparing to study you might begin by organizing your books and work space to aid you in keeping your desk free of distractions and on focussing on the task at hand. You might also plan time for "warming up" as part of your study routine. To do this, begin with something that's familiar to get started. As well, it sometimes helps to review the good results of the past to put yourself in a confident frame of mind.
To reduce anxiety associated with the time following a study session, you might take a physical break to help you reduce the symptoms of stress and to peak your alertness and energy. You might also want to end each study session with an overview of a section to boost your sense of completion and confidence. As well, you might find studying early in the term to be less anxiety-provoking because of the reduced amount last minute study you have to do.
Identify your areas of concern early in the term and check them out. Often those who feel uneasy about exams are those who have discovered that they have gaps (large or small, few or many) in their understanding. By examining concepts which are unclear as the course proceeds, you reduce these gaps and build your confidence along with the knowledge of the course.
Discuss your course work with other members of the class. By discussing the course focus and ideas related to the course, you are likely to determine some fairly common ground regarding the important aspects of the course to be tested. This may also give you an ideal chance to discover other points of view about the course ideas and focus. Group study is an excellent way to work actively to study.
If you feel anxious because of the poor state of your notes, you might try borrowing a friend's notes to fill in where there are gaps in your notes or use a tape recorder to keep up with professors who don't allow questions or who move too quickly. At all times try to keep your notes organized by date and look for the main ideas for each lecture as they relate to the course outline. Notes that you make from the text should reflect the organization of the ideas presented in the text. Consider using the Cornell style of notes which includes a margin for questions, comments, and key words which are used to trigger larger chunks of information. Finally, don't leave your notes until the end of the term to find that your notes are incomplete: instead, review the notes regularly through the term to clarify and complete them and then review the portions which are not clear with the Prof. or TA or a classmate.
In general, test and exam anxiety is often marked by a generally negative point of view. As you are working, try to repeat positive affirmations. Remind yourself of the positive experiences you may have encountered thus far in the course and tell yourself that your hard work will pay off. Tell yourself you can do it. You might find it helpful to remind yourself of the elements of the course that you do know; focusing on what you are not sure of only raises your anxiety.
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