Scientifically Backed Ways to Clear Your Head While Studying

by Grace Dickins

The human mind can wander at the most inopportune times: during an important business meeting, a lecture right before an exam, or a significant personal conversation. In fact, 47% of people tend to be thinking of something other than the task at hand. The same people who claim to have distraction problems also report being unhappy. Learning how to stay on track can help your focus and peace of mind.

Budget Your Time

There are easy preliminary steps you can take to prevent getting distracted. Before you sit down to work, set reasonable goals for yourself. Create a schedule to determine what time slots you can reserve for work. Decline some invitations to social events if you think they'll interfere. You may even want to keep a diary of your work, which has been known to increase productivity.


If you've sat down to work and your mind is wandering, know that you're not alone. An ancient practice has proven helpful for this: meditation. With only eight weeks of practice, you can improve your ability to concentrate. Some benefits can be enjoyed with only four days of training. Even subjects who have never meditated before felt that their memory, spatial orientation, and executive functions improve from this practice.

Train Your Brain

If you find yourself plagued by unpleasant thoughts, research the phenomena of suppression and substitution. While they use distinct neurological processes, each can effectively diminish the distractions caused by unpleasant thoughts. Harvard social psychologist Daniel Wegner determined that people can avoid fixating on one idea if they have an alternative idea to fixate on. For example, subjects successfully avoided thinking about a bear when it was suggested that they think of a red car instead.