Employing focussing strategies can help students maximise their study time and remember more information. If an environment is less distracting, students are more likely to be able to manipulate information in their mind. In turn, students will be better able to remember the information over time. Furthermore, if students employ strategies to self-monitor how distracted they are, it is more likely they will be able to focus. This strategy uses the mnemonic acronym, PATS, which stands for:
Pick the right environment to study:
- Pick a good place to study that is comfortable. Consider how quiet the place should be, how busy it should be, and how bright it should be (bright light can be distracting and low light can make it difficult to see).
- Set aside a dedicated place to study. A student’s mind might be confused and distracted by trying to study in bed, for example, because a bed is associated with sleeping.
Always reduce visual distractions:
- Find a place such as at a desk facing away from other distracting activity.
- Only have the necessary material. Other books, toys, magazines, and computers can be distracting.
Try to eliminate noise around you.
- Study in a quiet room. Lights and fans may contribute noise, so earplugs may be helpful.
- Some people like to study with music. Be sure it is not distracting. If it is, pick a quieter volume or different style of music.
Self-talk to control internal distractions.
- Some students may be distracted by internal factors such as thoughts about other things, hunger, or worry. Students should monitor their internal distractions and use positive self-talk to focus.
- For example, if a student is eager to e-mail a friend, the student should say to themselves, “I’m distracted by wanting to e-mail, but I need to study more. I’ll study for 15 more minutes and then take a break to e-mail.” In this example, a timer would be a great way to help quantify study time and focus.
Students should be explicitly taught PATS and guided to use it. During class or study at home, a teacher or parent can remind the student to use PATS when they need to really focus and remember information.
Source: The Comprehensive Executive Functioning Inventory