Study Hacks for Those with Short Attention Spans

Study tips like to do lists and study schedules may work for many students, but for those with short attention spans university work isn’t quite so simple. This week, blogger Hannah explores some tips for those who need a little more help to stay focused. While the methods you need might not be the same, with the right techniques you’re sure to be successful!

Find your level of background noise

Personally, I can’t stand studying in silence. I only visit the Library floors above Level 2 (where it’s silent study only) when I need to take out a book, and then I get out of there as fast as I can! My brain needs just the right amount of stimulation to be able to properly focus on my work. Experiment and see what works for you! I tend to cycle between instrumental music if I’m in a noisy environment, instrumental music with ambient sounds (like talking or rain) for a less noisy environment, and music with words but ‘from another room’ (YouTube it – honestly life changing!) for a quiet environment. It took me several years of forcing myself to sit in quiet study spaces before I figured out what I wanted in my work environment, just because I thought that silence is what a student ‘should’ need for productivity.

A person with blonde hair in a grey jumper sitting at a desk with a laptop and headphones on. A woman with brown hair is in the foreground out of focus with a laptop and a mug of tea.
Find a level of background noise that works for you

Move, move, move!

I often describe myself as the Shark of Studying – I have to keep moving, otherwise I’ll drown! Don’t be afraid to ‘space hop’ around campus – moving from place to place in order to stay motivated. If I’m on a day where I feel like my focus is particularly low but I need to get lots of work done, I’ll quite often move study locations every two hours or so. Aside from the Library, particular favourites of mine are University House, NAIC Cafe, Warwick Arts Centre, and, of course, the Oculus. If you’re someone that likes quiet, I’d also recommend booking a room on the Warwick Room Bookings Service for an hour or two – I quite often go for an empty Humanities classroom. Varying your space and surroundings can help keep your mind alert, and can also prevent a long study day from feeling quite so claustrophobic. Moving from place to place can also force you to take some much-needed exercise, and refresh your brain by stretching your legs. If you can, take the long route on your walk – campus is so gorgeous this time of year!

A man with brown hair and a grey coat standing on a path looking out to sea with trees either side.
Keep moving and stay refreshed

Time limits and breaks

This is a classic technique study, but I suggest sticking to it. Every hour or so (half hour if I’m particularly demotivated) I’ll reward myself with a break in some way. Whether it’s a fun snack, ten minutes to scroll on Tik Tok, or a chunk of time to catch up on TV, it’s so important to give yourself a break from work. Organising meetings with friends or tutors can also help break up your day – although discussing an assessment might not be a brilliant reward, the chance to speak to someone else and use a different part of your brain can help prevent fatigue if you have a long day on campus. Studying with a peer can also help force you to take these much-needed breaks – although stopping work for ten minutes can feel like a waste of time early in your study period, your brain will thank you later!

Four people sat outside on a picnic blanket with food and drink. There is a small dog in the foreground.
Taking breaks helps you be more productive

We hope these tips help you get productive! If you have any top tips that you’d like to share, comment below, tweet us @warwicklibrary, or email us at

If you’d like to read more about productivity, check out Finding Routine in a New Term, or take a look at Study Sounds for a soundtrack to your day. You can also look at all our posts on the Contents page.

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