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How to stay FOCUSED when studying English and stop getting distracted

20 tabs open on the computer, non-stop messages coming from your phone, and so many distractions. Focusing can be HARD. And even when you make the time to sit down and learn, you can still get distracted! That leads to ineffective practice, which slows down your progress and can feel so frustrating.

But, with the right tools and strategy, you can laser in on what’s important, and see the results of time well spent. Watch today’s video to learn how to stay FOCUSED when studying English and stop getting distracted!


Podcast intro:

Welcome to the InFluency Podcast. I’m Hadar, and this is episode number 407. And today we’re gonna talk about how to stay focused when studying English.

Hey, hey everyone. Thank you so much for joining me for another episode. Today, I wanna talk about something really important, and it relates obviously to English or your English practice and study, but it really relates to everything that we do, or at least everything that we try to accomplish. And that is – how to stay focused? The question of all questions. So I want to talk about how to stay focused specifically when studying English, but obviously what I’m going to share is based on my research and my own experience trying to stay focused when doing any kind of work, not just studying a language.

Now, I think that most people know what they need to do. They know that they need to sit down and practice, whether it’s to work on different practice sheets or read out loud or shadow people. Whatever that is, like most people know what they need to do. A lot of times the real problem is to have the motivation to sit down and start your practice or the habit, which is basically something that you have to have. You have to have the habit of sitting down and doing the work every single day, even if it’s just 10 minutes a day.

But also, when you do sit down and do the work, you have to stay focused. Because if you do a whole bunch of other things, then it’s going to be really, really hard for you to actually benefit from the work that you’re doing and see results. So, focus is so incredibly critical. And unfortunately, you know, we live in a time where it’s really hard to stay focused with everything that is happening and the type of content we’ve gotten used to consuming. So this is what I want to talk about today. I’m extremely passionate about it. I think it’s so important.

And I think it’s like a game changer, when you learn how to not distract yourself, how to stay focused. You know, I feel that on days where I’m more focused, I feel so accomplished, I get so much done, and I feel like I can do anything. But on days where I’m not focused, I feel really crappy about myself. I feel like, you know, I’m wasting my time. And I think that with a little bit of practice and guidance, you can intentionally create a positive experience every single day, whether it’s at work or when you study English. So this is what I wanted to share today. And that’s it.

If you enjoy this episode and you’re listening to this on your favorite podcast platform, please subscribe to the podcast if you haven’t yet. And if you have a minute, then I would love for you to take that minute and rate and review the podcast, because it really does help people learn more about the podcast, see it more. So I would be really grateful if you could find the time to rate and even review the podcast. Thank you so, so much. All right. So let’s go ahead and listen to today’s episode.

Video transcript:

How to stay focused when studying? This is one of the most important questions that I get asked, and I’ll tell you why it’s important. Because as non native speakers, you probably face a lot of challenges when it comes to mastering English. The first has to do with understanding the language, getting the right materials, finding the time to practice, making sure that what you do to practice is actually effective. And all of that really, really matters.

But what happens if you have all the right resources, you know what you need to focus on, you clear out time for you to practice, you have the most effective practice resources, and then you sit down and you spend time learning, and you don’t feel like you’re actually progressing because you feel like your focus is all over the place. What to do when you’re trying to study and you can’t, for the life of you, stay focused?

Obviously, when you’re not focused, You’re not going to have an impactful exercise or practice. And if you don’t, then you’re going to feel like you’re on a hamster wheel, just doing the work, practicing, but not really getting results. And that is so incredibly frustrating.

So this is why I decided to make this video to help you understand what are the very few things that you can do to stay more focused when practicing so you can actually see results from the time that you’re spending practicing, studying, and learning English.

If you’re new to my channel, then hi, my name is Hadar. I’m a non native speaker of English, and I am here to help you speak English with clarity, confidence, and freedom. I’m obsessed with finding the best language learning strategies with pronunciation work, and with mindset. Because I think all of that works together, and that is what creates a holistic, effective learning journey.

And if you want to learn more about me or with me, then go to my website hadarshemesh.com. You can also follow me on social media at @hadar.accentsway on Instagram, and all the other channels that you see right here.

All right. So let’s talk about how you can stay focused when studying English. Now, the first thing I want to say is that – if you feel like you lose your focus really easily, this is not your fault. It is the result of being constantly overwhelmed with information and also the way we consume content, especially on social media, but even on YouTube, has changed over the last few years as the formats of lessons and videos have changed.

If before you used to consume content that can last 10, 20, 30 minutes, and… I don’t know, when I was a kid, we had to stay focused for an entire hour in class. Now, after 15 seconds or even 30 seconds people already lose their attention span because they’re used to consuming content that is very short and packed, and that’s it. So you can stay focused for 15 seconds or 30 seconds, and then you lose your focus or you move on to the next thing. And basically, when we consume content that way, we are training our brain to only stay focused for a short period of time.

Now, I don’t know if the short form content has evolved because we’ve started losing our attention span over the years, or maybe it has caused us to lose our attention span. But the truth is that it’s really hard for people to focus for something that has longer or more thorough than a short 30-second reel.

Now, the problem is that while you can get fun tips and tricks in 15, 30 seconds or even 60 seconds, if you want a real thorough, effective, complete lesson or piece of content, then you know that it’s not going to last for 60 seconds. But I hope you also know that for you to be able to study effectively, it’s not enough to just consume content, you also have to put it into practice and to use it, which requires more of your focus. Because it’s a lot easier to stay focused when you’re just consuming content, it’s harder when you actually have to do something and to use it and to even kind of like get through the hardships of not getting it right or not feeling you are on the right track with your practice. And that requires you to be hyper focused.

So when you study English, it’s really important that you’re focused, for learning and for practicing. So, you know that you need to be focused for more than 30 seconds. You know that the circumstances have changed the way you are able to focus. And we also know that we need to find a solution. So let’s talk about practical things that you can do.

First, you have to plan it. If you just sit down to practice and you don’t know what you’re about to do, then you might distract yourself. You might feel like you’re all over the place or do a bunch of things at the same time. This is not recommended. If you plan your time properly, so for example, “On Monday morning at 10am, I’m going to practice for 25 minutes the Past Perfect Tense, and I’m going to use it when speaking freely for a few minutes extra.” Okay? So, you know exactly what you’re going to do. You know, ideally, you should know the resources that you’re going to use, and how long it’s going to take you.

It’s really important to set a limit, or to set a point where you know, “Now I know that I’m finished.” And you can do that by setting a time limit. So you can say “I’m going to practice for 25 minutes, and when time’s up, then that’s it.” Because it’s good for you to know when the end point is. Or you can say, “I’m going to go through these three practice sheets. Once I’m done, I’m done for the day, or I’m done doing this.”

So, really, you kind of like give yourself a mark where you know that’s done. Because it’s easier to stay focused when you know you have kind of like a deadline or a mark when you’re done. Because if not, then your brain is going to get scattered and be like all over the place and, you know, try to figure out other things and then your practice is going to end up being two hours. So that’s also not efficient and you really can’t stay focused for more than a short period of time. So you’ve got to understand how your brain works and your body works and set yourself up for success.

Another thing that I recommend is to not multitask. Do not multitask. Don’t do several things at the same time. Don’t study two, three, four different things at the same time. “I’m going to do a little bit of this, and then I’m going to do some vocabulary practice. Then I’m going to come back to this, and then I’m going to practice pronunciation. And all of that within 20 minutes.” No.

You have to stay focused on one thing. If you do a bunch of things at the same time, I’m not even speaking about checking your email or going on social media while studying, that is for sure a big no no. That’s going to keep you distracted for sure. But also within whatever it is that you study, make sure that you focus on one topic and you don’t multitask or learn a bunch of things at the same time.

You can do it one after the other: once you’re done with one thing, you move on to the next thing. But don’t do it at the same time. It’s not healthy for your brain. That’s not how the brain works. And you have to kind of like regain your focus every time you shift from one content to another, and it takes time for the brain to gain focus again. Okay? Which leads me to the next thing, which is ‘keep your environment distraction-free’.

Let’s say you start studying and you’re focused on one thing, and then you get a text message. You shift your focus to your phone, you check your message. Usually we end up checking a whole bunch of other things, but let’s say you just check the message and then you go back to your article or practice or whatever it is that you were doing.

It’s going to take you time to get back to the same level of focus that you were before the distraction. And sometimes it’s a matter of 15, 20 minutes until you gain back the same level of focus. And usually we don’t stay focused for this long, so we never really get to a high level of focus where you are really, really concentrated on the thing that you’re doing.

So really try to keep your environment distractionfree. Don’t have additional open tabs on your browser, turn your phone off. Honestly, if you keep it in the other room, it’s going to be less tempting for you to check it, or put it in the drawer or just turn it off completely. Close the door if you live with other people. Let them know that now you’re practicing and you need some quiet time, right? So that people don’t ask you questions or talk to you while practicing. If you can do that, you will set yourself up for success.

And also, I don’t know how it is for you, but for me I am a lot more focused when my environment is clean, clutter-free, when I don’t have a lot of things happening in front of me. So I recommend for you to check your work environment, see if you can declutter it or create a space that really allows you to focus in a better way, to study in a focused way – study and work, and really just like do creative things, if that’s what you want.

All right. One more thing that can help you stay more focused is to understand that you are teaching yourself to focus while studying English. What do I mean by that? Losing your focus is potentially a habit. Here’s what I can tell you about myself. When I’m in a state of flow, meaning that I’m doing something that I love, let’s say I’m writing something or I’m creating content or even filming videos, right? And I am focused, I enjoy it, I’m in my genius zone, it’s easy for me to stay focused. I have no problem doing it for hours.

But I noticed that when things get hard or boring or repetitive, This is where I tend to lose my focus. And this is the moment where you have to catch yourself and bring yourself back to what it is that you were doing. So let’s say you’re studying English and everything’s okay. And then you come across something that you don’t understand, and it’s a little harder. This is where you’re likely to lose your focus. And this is where I want you to see what happens. You are going to look for your phone or search for content online or go to doing something else. And that’s the real work about training yourself to focus. You’ve got to go back to what it is that you are doing and really bring yourself to a state of focus again.

So say to yourself, “Now I’m losing my concentration, I’m losing focus. I’m going to go back to doing what I was doing.” You can just take a few breaths. You can kind of like meditate for 10 seconds and come back, whatever works for you. But recognize the moment where your brain wants to shift to thinking about something else.

By the way, meditation really, really helps because what meditation teaches you to do is to control your brain, your mind, right, your thoughts. And this is probably the best skill that you can develop because it’s going to help you focus and it’s going to help you understand your brain, how you think, and sometimes even shift thoughts that are not serving you. And I talk a lot about it when we talk about mindset, right? So, training yourself to refocus or doing meditation exercises – while studying, before studying – can help you gain back your focus and stay concentrated on whatever it is that you’re doing.

Another tip that I have for you is that if you do get distracted and you go and do something else while studying, respect the transition. Before going back to studying or your practice, take a few seconds, give yourself some time to adjust back to this, a different state of focus. Right? Let’s say you were speaking to someone that requires a certain type of focus. Now you’re going back to studying, that’s a different type of focus. And the brain doesn’t transition in a click, right? Like you can’t click your brain into, “Oh, now I’m super focused. Now I’m less focused because I’m speaking to someone.”

So you got to respect the transition, right? And if you don’t, then you’re going to try to do the work and practice and study, but your brain is not going to be there for it. So sometimes just taking a few breaths, telling your brain, “Okay, now we’re going to go back to reading, right? Making sure again that you don’t have any other distractions, recognizing the transition going back is the best thing you can do. And I know that sometimes we have the urgency of going back to doing what we were doing, but taking time is sometimes the most efficient thing you can do, most time-efficient thing you can do.

The last thing I’m going to recommend for you to do is to practice for short periods of time, short, but focused. The brain is really not created or built for long periods of time of doing something in a hyper focused way. And we need to respect that. This is why when you’re studying, I recommend to study in chunks of 15, 20, or 25 minutes. And then take a break and then go back to studying.

Some of you may be familiar with a Pomodoro technique, which is a really great technique for staying focused. The Pomodoro technique suggests that you need to do focused work in chunks of time and take breaks in between. So it says that you should practice or study or work for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break. Sometimes it could be a little less, but it’s a 5-minute break. Then another chunk of 25 minutes and then another 5-minute break. And you do 4 loops of that: 4 rounds of 25 minutes of focused work, and then you take a longer break, 15 or 20 minutes.

So, if you’re studying English, I recommend to do the same thing. It doesn’t have to be 25 minutes, it could be 15 minutes. But if you want to follow the Pomodoro technique, you can find a lot of Pomodoro clocks online. And you can set it up, and it’s really nice, and it keeps you focused on track. And the fact that you know that you have a break coming up, for some reason kind of like keeps you more focused because you’re like, “Okay, I’m going to just wait with all the other things that I want to do, check my phone, check my email. I’m going to do it during the break.” And during the break, it’s recommended for you to get up, to do different things and not stay on your computer or continue studying during the break. So you can try out the Pomodoro technique that can also help you stay focused.

All right. So now my question to you is, What helps you stay focused when studying, when working? I’m really, really curious to know. So let me know in the comments. And let me know if you also struggle with staying focused when studying. Because if you are, I really hope this video is going to help you.

Thank you so much for watching. If you enjoyed this episode, please consider sharing and subscribing if you haven’t subscribed to my YouTube channel or podcast, the InFluency Podcast, just yet. And share it with your friends who might benefit from this content as well.

Have a beautiful, beautiful rest of the day, and I will see you next week in the next video. Bye.

The InFluency Podcast
The InFluency Podcast
407. How to stay FOCUSED when studying English and stop getting distracted

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3 Responses

  1. Thank you very much for making teaching materials available via the internet. I have been studying with you on YouTube videos every day. I have been studying with you for 2 months and the result is that my pronunciation has improved significantly. However, I will study with you every day. Thank you to your team for creating this video tutorial.
    I’m sorry because I’m not good at English so I had to use Google translate. I hope you can read or understand what I intended to write or convey to you.
    From Nu

    1. Thank you so much for your kind message, Nu! 😊

      We’re happy to know that Hadar’s teaching materials and YouTube videos have helped improve your pronunciation. Your dedication to studying every day is truly inspiring!

      Don’t worry about using Google Translate; we understood your message perfectly. Keep up the great work! 🌟

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