Student Life

Eight Ways to Boost Your Focus

Discover ways to boost your focus and facilitate your student wellbeing.

Student Contributor, Rachel Lechwar

June 19, 2022

Eight Ways to Boost Your Focus
Creating good habits can set the groundwork for better productivity.
As study drugs become more prominent and harmful to student wellbeing, here are some healthier alternatives. We are used to a productivity-driven culture. It’s been ingrained in us that we have to push ourselves to our limits just to manage workloads. So, many turn to “study drugs”, often other people’s prescribed ADD and ADHD medications, thinking of them as a necessary energy boost to stay afloat. This results in abuse and dependency on these drugs.
Despite this, research does not link these drugs to better grades, and there is a high risk of dependency. Before giving into the pressure to try these substances, check out some of these healthier ways to help improve your concentration and mental health as a whole.


If you are looking for that stimulating effect without the more harmful side effects, look no further than a cup of coffee or tea. Caffeine helps to increase dopamine levels in the body in order to boost concentration. However, it is important to note that everyone’s body responds differently to it and that it may lead to short term effects like difficulty sleeping and increased anxiety.

Sleep schedule

This is much easier said than done, but prioritizing a healthy sleep schedule is valuable for productivity. Our waking schedules can get incredibly busy, whether it's a heavy course load, balancing work with school, or just high involvement in extracurriculars and social life. But, it’s recommended that we give ourselves eight to nine hours of sleep for full functioning. This isn’t always possible, so on days that you’re feeling low energy, take a twenty minute power nap. Or, try to see how a few more hours of sleep can break that cycle of fatigue.

Yoga or Meditation

It can be really difficult to start new habits, but I’ve found these two practices to be helpful when things get overwhelming. Meditation provides a space for concentration by allowing you to focus on your breath and clear away conscious and unconscious distractions. It trains your brain to use breath as a grounding point and helps relieve anxiety related to your workload.
Similarly, yoga engages your body to increase blood flow to the brain. Building these into your routine can help give you reminders to prioritize mental health and check in with yourself.

Pick the right setting

This looks different depending on where you work best. It could be the library, your bedroom, a quiet space outside. But, try to find a place that minimizes distractions, even if it is a coworking space. I’ve found that when I am cooped up in my room for too long, I seek out distractions more, so I try moving to a common space like the kitchen. So, feel free to change up the setting when needed.

Mental breaks

When you’re putting pressure on yourself to focus, mental breaks can seem counter-intuitive. Why would I stop working, you might say, isn’t that more of a distraction? Should I just push through the fatigue? If you’ve been working for a long period of time, though, it pays to listen to your body. I like to set in natural breaks, especially when I notice my energy levels ebbing. Various studies and claims have been made about how long your should wait before taking this break, but the range seems to be anywhere from sixty to ninety minutes. There’s no one size fits all, but it helps to give myself a screen break if I'm working on the computer. Stretching helps to get blood flowing and gives a natural reward, though it still takes restraint not to reach for the sweets or pull up social media.

Balanced diet

This is a good natural energy boost and an excellent alternative to study drugs. Your stomach is often considered your “second brain” so whatever you put in it has a direct effect on your physical and mental functioning. Foods with Vitamins D3 and B are instrumental in providing that alertness that you’re seeking. It can be tempting to have snack food nearby, but try and switch those chips for almonds, edamame, or even dark chocolate. Check in on your eating patterns and make sure you’re eating full, balanced meals too.


Whether it’s spending hours on projects that could be done in a couple minutes or pushing off assignments until the last minute, there are many time-management pitfalls to watch for. What helps me the most is breaking down bigger projects into smaller tasks and planning out when I want to get them done. I even have to set time limits for myself so that I can be more productive and spend the rest of my energy on the more pressing tasks.

Reducing screen time

With the weekly and daily screentime reports, it’s easier to track and set limits on phone usage. When I’m working, I often turn my ringer off and hide my phone somewhere out of sight. This way, I won’t even be tempted to flip it over to check any incoming messages. Ultimately, there is no magic pill for improving your focus, at least not one that is completely safe to use. These are just some suggestions from my own experience, and from research. Remember that it’s okay to prioritize mental health: getting a full night’s rest, taking breaks to eat, etc. And remember that following these tips isn’t just for concentration but also for your holistic wellbeing, which is just as much, if not more important.

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