It is no misnomer that the UPSC Syllabus is vast. An aspirant who is serious and wishes to crack this most prestigious exam needs to devote more than 8 hours of study in the least. It is a tough job indeed to keep one’s focus for such long hours for months on end. So, here we have curated a few tips on how to keep distractions at bay during your IAS preparation period:
- Find a suitable place to study: Studying for UPSC exam can be both difficult and stressful, and you may find your mind wandering frequently whenever you try to sit down and study. To really focus on studying, find a quiet study place which already has no distractions so that you do not have extra work on your hands. Ideally, you should find a quiet, bright place with a big, comfortable chair without any electronic devices or gadgets within your reach. The library is normally a very apt place to study since it is not noisy.
- Find a study group: Choose a study group, the group should have people who are sensible and focused like yourself on the same task. You need not choose your best friend all the time for this purpose, as you may affect your concentration by chatting when you should be studying. Having a study partner is a great idea, as you can pass ideas to each other, and see things from a different perspective as yourself. Some people find study groups to be distracting. If you are an extrovert and enjoy people’s company and conversations, a study partner/group probably won’t be the best idea for you. Likewise, if you are an introvert and you generally keep to yourself, a study partner/group might work wonders for you. You should always select someone who you think is smarter than you. If you really wish to learn, choose a study partner who is dedicated and smart, and is okay teaching you. Your study sessions will be more productive.
- Keep snacks handy: We often run around looking for something to eat when what we should be doing is studying. This consumes a lot of our time, so it is advisable to keep snacks handy whenever you need them. You must also avoid coffee and other caffeinated drinks as you would crash sooner or later. Carry fruits, energy bars, juice/ water etc. to keep your energy levels up.
- Take short breaks: A human mind cannot intensely focus for more than 45 minutes. Your brain needs time to recharge after it processes a lot of information. Take a 10-20 minute break and do something else. Return to studying after the break which should not be for more than twenty minutes. You can also plan your breaks with alarms.
- Stay motivated: Do not think of the UPSC exam as a big deal rather look at it as something that will challenge your learning. Enjoy your preparation time and do not have any fear of the exam. No exam is conducted to scare you, they are conducted so that you can go higher and achieve your dreams. Set a goal for yourself, even if you find it to be unrealistic. Push yourself harder and maybe you’ll be wonderfully surprised with yourself! Motivate yourself with a reward even for smallest of accomplishment. Reward yourself if you study well, feel prepared, and do well in a test. Tell yourself why this important and why are you preparing. This varies from person to person. Whatever your reason is, keep telling yourself the reason you are working hard and tell yourself it’s worth it.
- Don’t go off topic: We all find ourselves going off-topic from time to time. Sometimes it’s because the information we’re supposed to learn is boring and sometimes it’s because the information we don’t need to know is exciting. Whatever it is, wait until after you’ve studied the topic at hand to really dig deeper and explore different topics. Always ask yourself: How likely is it that this information will show up in the exam? If you’re really focused, you can rank the information from the most likely to the least likely, giving the most likely material the majority of your time and the least likely the rest of it.
- Refrain from excessive usage of internet: Internet can be a very distracting thing, if not used right. So, either turn your computer off or turn away from it.
- Don’t get anxious: Looking at the pile of books and the amount of information to be gathered, you might sometimes feel anxious. When you panic you make mistakes, so keep calm throughout your preparation. If you successfully planned your study & revision, you will not need to panic when the D- Day comes. Take a deep breath, tell yourself “I can do this” and calm down.
- Stay focused: Studying for an exam can be a very daunting task especially in the beginning. Divide things into manageable chunks and don’t worry about getting things perfect the first time. Remember that nothing is life or death. Try to understand the “big picture” if you’re having trouble understanding the concept. This will make the details easier to understand.