5 Tips to Improve Concentration

5 tips for improving concentration when writing your dissertation

This post was written with PhD students in mind, but I realized they can apply to many other things that require a great deal of concentration. Here are 5 tips for improving concentration that have personally worked for me (someone with very little ability to concentrate lol 😂).


You know, the ones that have been preached forever in the world of goal setting... specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. When I actually applied these to what I was working on, I made more progress than when I just went at it with only one plan in mind:  to “make some progress”.


Ugh, I’m the worst at trying to tackle procrastination because I’ve always believed (and still do) that everything will get done by the time it’s due - and it does! Does is stress me out that I haven’t started a paper that is due in two days?? Yeah, but I get it done. The problem with this thinking when it comes to #phdlife is that you are on your own timeline! When there are no deadlines, and you are brilliant at procrastinating like me, nothing ever gets done. You have to put your procrastinating “skills" away, and set real deadlines for yourself. Connect deadlines to something real in your life - if you get it done by ___ day, give yourself a reward.


Being in school for what feels like an eternity has taught me that my brain will take its own break if I don’t do it myself. Now, I give myself breaks every 20-30 minutes of working. I’ve found that I get more done as a whole when I set frequent breaks, than if I just start working with no end in sight. Writing a thesis/dissertation is literally exhausting. Don’t feel bad for taking well-deserved breaks (well-deserved meaning you put in work in those 20 minutes).


This one seems obvious; sleep has a great impact on our concentration. But for the longest time, I wasn’t getting enough sleep and didn’t even realize it. It wasn’t until I started a plant-based diet that I noticed how much more energy I had in the morning. I thought waking up tired was normal. News flash, it’s not! I’m way more productive now that I’m able to get out of bed in the morning without hitting snooze 34 times. 


Celebrate small successes by giving yourself breaks for working hard (provided that you actually gave your best effort). Things are going to come up in your personal life that interfere with your ability to concentrate - it happens to everyone. Take deep breaths, meditate, and let your mind drift away from these thoughts before trying to concentrate on something. 

These are a few things that have worked for me. I’m curious if anyone has other tips? I’d love to hear them. Leave a comment below!

5 tips for concentrating on writing your phd