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How to work when you’re too whipped up

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Feel like running around or annoying people until they yell at you? Here’s how to foooocus.

Sometimes it’s impossible to concentrate on the work you have to do. Even if there’s a deadline, even if you know you’ll get in trouble for building a Jenga pile of pencils instead of reading a single page – sometimes you just can’t calm down and focus on what needs doing. If you find this happening a lot, here are some ways to get in the right headspace.

Shake it off/out/all about

You know how you are, so work off all that excess energy before you sit down to study. Do a workout or go for a run to get it out of your system. You’ll probably still be your fidgety self, but it’ll be easier to force yourself to concentrate. Just don’t do so much that you’re exhausted and need a nap.

Take regular action breaks

If the above advice isn’t helpful because you need to get this stuff done NOW, take a quick five minutes to do some intense exercise (like, say, push-ups). Get back to work for another 20 minutes before doing another set of movements (like, say, burpees). Then another 20, then…you get the idea. Burn off that energy in a positive way, while getting the job done.  If you’re not into those kinds of exercises, put on your favourite song and dance it off.

Learn while you move

If you have someone else who can help, get them to ask you questions from the textbook while you’re doing something active – kicking a ball up against the garage door, shooting hoops or another activity that keeps you in roughly the same spot while also burning energy. If there’s no-one around, listen to a relevant podcast or your own recorded notes while you move. Recorded notes? Ahh yeah. Read the next bit.

Record your notes in advance

Grab your phone and study notes, and read them out into the recording app. Do this in advance, so when you have to revise but have ants in your pants, you’ll have a small library of audio files to listen to while you jump on your bike and ride ride riiiiiiide.

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