CFA CFA General Concentration Tips

Concentration Tips

  • This topic has 15 replies, 8 voices, and was last updated Jan-18 by jessmat.
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    • jessmat
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      Hi everyone! 

      Lately, I’ve been having some concentration issues. Whenever I start studying, either there’s a complete lack of concentration or it’s there at the beginning, but after I read a couple of lines, poof the concentration has vanished.  Because of this, my studying speed has gone down considerably, worse than snail’s pace. Thus, the things in my to-do list just seem to be piling up instead of being scratched out!!

      Wish there was a magical solution. Wave a wand, mutter a spell and voila, issues gone! The Harry Potter Books just made it look so simple!

      But yes, I’d love to hear some non-magical (muggle), effective tips from you guys, to combat concentration problems! 

      Thanks, 

      Jessica!

    • Sophie Macon
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      Hi @jessmat, are you on schedule time wise? Tell us more about your study routine so far as it may help knowing how to solve (or reduce) this 🙂

    • jessmat
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      Hi @Sophie‌!! Here goes:

      I am sooo far behind my deadlines that I don’t think I can even see them anymore. I try to put in about 3 hours per day… an hour an a half before work, and another hour an a half after work. Over the weekends I’ve been wanting to put in 8 hours a day…but I’m able to put in only 4 hours per day on the weekend 🙁

      Plus, this whole last week, I didn’t get anything done. Just couldn’t bring myself to study. 

      I’m done with Ethics, Quant and FRA. I’m good at Economics (haven’t started it yet)  so that should go fast I guess. I’ve done Derivatives,  Corporate Finance, Equity,  Fixed Income in college at Graduate Level but I don’t think I remember too much of it… 

      So to describe it using Zee’s words, I’m somewhere in between the ” caffeine drenched cliff of urgency ” and the ” near impossible wall of wild hope ” !!

      In short, I’m sort of screwed. 

      Any tips? Thank you! 🙂

      Jessica

    • mattyc
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      @jessmat I felt like this around mid-April this year preparing for my June L2 test which comparatively is about 2 weeks from now for your Dec exam.  The way I got through it was to get kind of obsessed with my preparation.  My final 6 or so weeks I developed a routine that I absolutely refused to veer from.  2+ hours every evening after work at least 3 to 4 hours on Sat and Sun were spent in the library.  Starbucks coffee became my ‘Wilson’ of the Castaway-like solitutde that I forced myself into.  You can defintely do this, but you have to turn into a stone cold study machine.  Focus on the highest weighted topics and go hard.  Good luck.

    • malkadhi
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      I feel studying shouldn’t come at the expense of some proper sleep. I work a pretty hectic job, and still manage to get some study time. I can attribute this to making sure I get 6-7 hours of sleep, a well-balanced diet that I cook in advance and portion through-out the week. With that said, I do smoke and it does some to help with concentration.

      Good luck!

    • Sophie Macon
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      Hey @jessmat‌ , how about a different study environment? 

      Pick a new place, either a library, a cafe, work place etc. Whichever you find refreshing with minimal distraction. If it’s near enough to walk there, a breathe of fresh air along the way make help before you focus for a couple of hours. 

    • Maverick
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      Heya Jess ( @jessmat‌ )

      Bit late to the party this time, sorry all.
      Sounds like you’ve freaked yourself out a little bit since you did the calculation of pages per day required on that other thread and have a mid-course crisis. If it helps at all, I’m having the same issue and I’m well behind where I wanted to be.

      The concentration issues I’m getting are totally transient. One hour I’m on form and I can be cracking through a page every 3 to 4 minutes (15 to 20pages per hour) and then all of sudden I completely lose it. I realize that I’ve read a full paragraph or even half a page and I don’t remember a word it said, quite simply my mind has gone elsewhere and is entirely missing in action. So basically my eyes have followed the page, but my brain hasn’t taken in any of it. I get annoyed and flick back to the start and read it again. Sometimes this can actually happen over and over, 3 or 4 times for a single paragraph as I just cannot get my mind to engage again. At best, given a highlighter and literally highlighting every word and tracking the highlighter, saying every word aloud in my mind (if that makes sense) I can finally get it in, though my productivity drops to 10mins a page (6pph). Otherwise I just have to step away and break the cycle. Make a coffee, have a smoke (for my sins, yes I am one of the unhealthy ones too @malkadhi‌), anything just to reset the pattern.

      I’d suggest you do the same. If you cannot even get started, try doing something else for 5 mins. If you need silence, make sure there are no distractions, if you need noise, then put on some music, or change the cd / playlist. If you’re like me and you’re firing and then suddenly derail, then try another room in the house. Get up, shake it out, just disrupt that pattern that’s pulled your brain into absence from what you’re trying to do. Even go and have a shower and try to relax before restarting if you like.

      I can relate to not being able to bring yourself to study some days, I’ve had that, in fact I’ve had some really bad days, or runs of them.

      Seriously though, we can do this together. I got up at 04:30 this morning, pulled on my shorts and shirt and cracked straight on with the study just to get a few hours in before the kids woke up this morning to try to play catchup, and I’m just about to flip the books open again once I’m done with this message.

      Keep strong Jess, we can do this 🙂 

    • jessmat
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      Hey everyone!

      @mattyc : I like the idea of being a “stone cold study  machine”. I must stop being lenient to myself, instead be tough, focus and get things done! Thank you! 🙂

      @malkadhi : Well, I get about 5 hours of sleep. Wish I could sleep for 8!  I spend an hour watching television! I just love my TV Shows, as they serve as an escape from reality. Maybe I should cut down on that and add an extra hour towards sleeping. If I am well rested, i’ll be less stressed and more focused! Thanks for the tip!!

      @Sophie: There is a cafe, near my house, down the lane. It’s a nice one, I’ve been going there with my friends since a long time! Never really thought of it as a study area though. Maybe I could drop by this weekend, get myself a cup of hot cocoa/coffee and attack those CFA topics! Thank you soo much! 

      @Maverick: 4.30 am? Wow! That’s quite an achievement! It’s kinda contradictory, how I’ve been posting on other threads, telling people that they can do it and they shouldn’t stress too much about it, and here I am, too stressed to even open the books (sometimes).
      Breaking the cycle sounds like a good idea – a coffee break, or a five minute listen-to-your-fav-song break! Definitely a good way to get back on track!!
      You go through 15 pages an hour? I can do just about 8! How do you manage to read everything so fast? No wonder you’re studying from the curriculum then!

      Thank you soo much! You’re right. We have to stay strong, focused and we all can definitely do this! May the force be with us! 😀

    • Maverick
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      @jessmat‌
      Not entirely sure Jess! I’ve always been pretty good at reading. My work required that I do the CISI London international investments and securities exams, I did level 1 in 2 days and level 2 in 5 days, just by sitting and hammering it at full pace. I’m thinking that I really should take a few holidays off of work and get back on track. I know I can cover a good 300 to 400 pages if I take a week off, which will more than put me back on schedule. In all honesty though, I’m actually averaging about 10 to 12 pages per hour when you look at productive vs non-productive hours.

      Going back to analogies, I used to do 10-pin bowling in a couple of leagues per week and learned the importance of concentration or “being in the zone” mentally there. It’s so easy to suddenly go from bowling 190 to 210 pin (points) games to 120 or worse without feeling like you’re doing anything different. Then you get annoyed with yourself, focus on everything you’re doing wrong and start beating yourself up for performing badly. From there it’s just a slippery slope downhill in terms of your focus, concentration and therefore performance. You’ll probably find you’re doing the same with your studies. You must walk away, break the cycle and come back clean and ready to focus and deliver. Whether that takes 5 minutes or 30, you’re not going anywhere in a negative spiral so have to take the time to break it.

      It’s not been long since we both signed up here Jess but I feel I’ve got to know to know you in a short space of time. You’re obviously not only a driven person but very caring as well, and as much as the mods are going to hate me for saying this… perhaps you’re on here a little too much (so am I in all honesty)? There is nothing wrong with helping others, but if it’s at the expense of 30 minutes to an hour where you could be studying, perhaps you need to look at whether your caring nature in helping others is harming your own time and chances of success.

      Just my 2p worth. 🙂 

    • jessmat
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      @Maverick‌ 

      I completely agree with the bowling analogy. I’ve been on the slippery slope way too many times! What I do then is shut my books and go out for a walk or just watch some light, non-intense (opposite of CFA curriculum) TV show and get out of the whole negative, self-hatred zone!

      Thanks a lot for your suggestions. I appreciate the honesty and I can’t deny that I am on 300 hours a little too much. Oh well, I like the blog posts and I like the forum! Can’t stop myself. But yes, I need to cut down the time I spend here!!

      Yes, I am definitely driven (however, sometimes the drive disappears and goes for a drive) and also super caring ( haha, not quite humble ðŸ˜‰ ) Good observations, Maverick! 

      Jessica

    • policedog
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      I do think that the forum is double-edged, but it beats playing PS3 as a study break… plus I get to show how crap I am at answering @PassedTense‌ and @exam_whiz‌ level 1 questions 😀

    • Maverick
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      @jessmat, thanks for making me feel better. I was beginning to wonder if everybody hated me for sending you away 😥

      @policedog‌ I have to say that sometimes FIFA15 on the playstation wins for half an hour or so and I just have to pull myself away. The books must win or I will find myself at exam day with a big study deficit. I’ve booked some holiday from work though and desperately need it to catch up.

    • exam_whiz
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      @policedog @Maverick I used to use FIFA as a reward- once I get to the next chapter I can play a game of FIFA!  

      @jessmat What is it that makes you lose concentration?  Where does your mind wander to?  Do you play on your phone or on your computer?  I would always get distracted by searching the internet, so I stopped bringing the computer with me to study.  Or I would bring it in case I needed it, but put it somewhere that was difficult to access.  The good news is that you have recognized the issue early enough that you have time to fix it!  Now you just need a strategy to do so and to hold yourself accountable.  We have a blog on this topic that might be a good read for you: http://exam-whiz.com/?p=2861

    • hairyfairy
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      @exam_whiz‌ does video games work for study breaks? I’ve previously heard that video games doesn’t really put you in the best mental shape to resume studies when you’re done with the break….

    • exam_whiz
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      I think it would depend on the person, the length of the break, and the game. 

      I actually never used video games as a study break, rather as a reward for finishing my daily studying. This kept me efficient in the time I spent studying, but there are certainly other methods to accomplish this. 

    • jessmat
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      @‌examwhiz

      I think I’m facing loss of concentration due to the deadly combination of stress and fatigue. I need to deal with that.

      The phone is always going to be a distraction for me. I’ve taken care of this though. I just switch it off and put it in the drawer of my wardrobe.

      Thanks for the tip! I’ll definitely check out your blog!

      Jessica

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