At the start of the semester, many students go to university motivated with the hope of finally paying more attention. After only a short time, however, the cell phone or gossip with a fellow student is usually more appealing. How to concentrate better?
A lecture usually lasts 90 minutes. Listening attentively all the time – almost no one can do that. But how do students avoid digressing every few minutes? Actor, lecturer and communications trainer Lutz Herkenrath reveals his best tips.
Change expectations of lecture to follow it better
Herkenrath’s motto is: "My attitude will influence how I behave. When I sit in a lecture or seminar as a student and say to myself ‘Hey lecturer, make me think. But so that I do not get bored, entertain me!’, then for the most part I am disappointed."
So you have to change your expectations to get something out of the lecture. For example, you could think: "I am committed to being here – my time, for example. Here I also want to take the full output." With this attitude, one then accepts uncomfortable advice rather.
Students often fool themselves: Listening requires discipline
But what uncomfortable advice is meant? "We tend to lie into our own pockets. For example, by thinking: ‘I’m multitasking.’ But it doesn’t work," emphasizes the communications trainer. Students couldn’t listen to a lecture and be on their cell phones at the same time. If you really want to learn something, you have to say to yourself as hard as nails: smartphone off. "It’s not enough to leave it in your backpack or under the table," Herkenrath says.
Another popular lie is: "I can also remember that like this."But that doesn’t work: "I have to take notes, then I can follow the lecture with more focus," advises Herkenrath. Moreover, listening is a high-performance sport: it is not enough to be physically present. You should prepare yourself for this: "For example, by eating and drinking well beforehand," says Herkenrath.
Whoever also thinks to himself: "If I only want, I have enough discipline", will not see any success. "To trick yourself there, it’s best to sit in one of the first rows. Then the lecturer has me in the eye", says the actor. With this form of control, a student stays more concentrated on the task at hand. "Or you can make a bet with your fellow students and even raise the stakes: if you digress or look at your smartphone, you have to settle the bet," says Herkenrath.
Exam preparation: Better to learn spread over the day
"As an actor, I know you don’t retain huge masses of text if you spend hours trying to memorize it," Herkenrath says. It works better with the so-called painting method. It works on a similar principle to varnishing a piece of wood, he said: First apply a thin layer of varnish, then let the wood dry.
When it comes to learning, it looks like this: "You study for 10 minutes, and for the rest of the hour I do something completely different and let the material sink in. You repeat this throughout the day and retain what you have learned better than if you try to cram everything into your brain in an hour," advises Herkenrath.