Five Study Tips for Super Focus

There are many ways to achieve the supreme focus you need for deep work or study. Try the following suggestions over the coming weeks, and you will notice a gradual strengthening of your “focus muscle.”

1. Read Online Articles in Reader Mode.

While we may think we’re pretty ninja at blocking out distractions, we’re using up lots of small amounts of mental energy to skip past all the junk. It adds up.

Here’s how to find reading mode in the most common web browsers:

Built in to Firefox. It will appear on the address bar when you are viewing a blog or article.

Comes standard with Safari. Look in the address bar for the word “Reader” in a grey box. When you click the button, you will enter Reader Mode.

Microsoft Edge
From Canary version on, the Reader mode is a standard feature of Edge. Next to the favorites star is a book icon. It will turn blue when you click it, indicating that Reader View is now on.

1. Enter this into your address bar: chrome://flags/#enable-reader-mode.
2. Click ‘enable’ in the dropdown box.

Here is a link to set up Reader Mode on Opera.

2. The 20-20-20 Rule

Originally coined by Optometrist Jeffrey Anshel, this is a technique to help to reduce eye-strain, and therefore reduce headaches and tension.

Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 ft away for 20 seconds. Our muscles – including those of the eye – work better with variations of use, rather than constant repetition. It’s kind of like using a sit-stand desk for your eyes. I would recommend using an app such as Pomobaro rather than your phone timer (unless it’s on flight mode) otherwise the phone notifications will simply create more distractions.

3. Listening to Jazz

My personal favorite is jazz, but whether it’s jazz, electronica, or rainforest sounds with classical guitar, listening to music without lyrics is a good way of drowning out the surrounding noises, without getting distracted by the words of a song.

4. Break a To-Do Item into Smaller Parts

If you write something on your to-do list like “history essay,” then you may avoid starting because you also have to decide the exact next step to take. ‘Deciding’ and ‘doing’ each take mental effort, so split them into two separate tasks.

Decide on a small first task to be your To-Do list item. Perhaps it’s “Borrow 3 books from the library for the history essay.”

A specific action like this reduces mental friction and your chances of procrastinating. You can learn more about breaking down projects into smaller to-dos in David Allen’s book Getting Things Done.

5. Go for a Brisk Walk

Whether it’s a walk, run, cycle or swim, getting your heart rate up on a regular basis improves your overall cardio health.

While one could say it’s your mind that runs the software, to operate at a peak mental level you also need to care for the physical hardware of your brain.


There are so many tips, tweaks and hacks that can help you to focus during study. For more simple ideas like these, you may like to check out my latest book, Study Less and Remember More.

Have you used any of these tips yourself?
Do you have others you would add to the list?


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