Topic outline

    • Does your mind begin to wander when you should study for an exam?
    • Do you have to read math assignments over and over because you cannot stay focused?
    • Do you find yourself scrolling social media applications on your phone when you should be studying?
    • Do things slip your mind often in your daily life?

    You are now reading the online course Concentration Training, which means some of the questions above or other concentration issues are probably familiar to you. In university studies, the ability to stay focused is a very central skill in many contexts. Whether you are listening to a lecture, reading academic texts or writing essays, good concentration skills will help you succeed in studies.

    If staying focused is a challenge for you, remember that you are not alone: most university students have difficulties concentrating at some point in their studies. You have probably already noticed that when you are tired or hungry, it is more difficult to stay focused or work on a challenging task. Another factor influencing concentration is that student life is often fast paced: if there is a lot going on in your life all the time, concentrating on a single thing might become more difficult. What is more, the remote study requirement of the past few years and the cultural changes that have shaped our working methods in the past decades have all had a bearing on our ability to concentrate.

    While we may not be able to change the surrounding world or culture easily or rapidly, concentration is fortunately a skill that each of us can become better at, regardless of our starting level. The purpose of this material is to help you overcome barriers to concentration and train your ability to focus.



    This material consists of three sections:

    1. The ability to concentrate and creating conditions that support it (week 1)

    What does concentrating mean? How do modern society, student life, smart devices and our ways of working affect our ability to concentrate? 

    2. Creating the conditions for good concentration (weeks 2 and 3)

    Which factors have an impact on concentration? How can we create optimal conditions for concentrating for ourselves?

    3. Training your concentration (weeks 4 and 5)

    How can you create a study routine that supports concentration? What kind of exercises and practices help you improve your ability to stay focused?


    Course instructions – READ THESE BEFORE YOU START


    This online material contains exercises and tasks that allow you to explore the factors that you can control in order to improve your concentration. Improving your ability to concentrate requires you to develop new habits, which is not always easy. This material gives you tools for finding new ways to improve your concentration each week. At the end of each week, you will choose one new habit that you will try to incorporate into your everyday life. To maximise your chance of success, you should consider the points below as you do the exercises:

    1. Try changing one thing at a time. When you make changes to your daily life step by step rather than all at once, reaching your goal becomes more probable and faster. Research shows that changing many habits at a time is rather likely to fail.

    2. Baby steps are usually the best way to start – as your goal, choose a change of habit that you can realistically make in your everyday life. Instead of trying to make a huge change in the way you do something, first set a smaller goal that takes you to the right direction. This way, you are more likely to succeed, and success will motivate you to continue setting new goals that take you closer and closer to your ultimate goal.

    3. When you are learning a new way of doing something, give yourself time. One or two days is not enough. You need to persist with your new habit for several weeks at a minimum before it turns into a routine, which no longer feels strenuous or requires extra effort. If you find yourself needing more than one week to integrate a new habit into your daily life, you can choose to continue this week’s exercises for two weeks before moving on.

    4. Learning a new habit takes repetition and consistency: do not get discouraged if one day goes wrong. When you are learning a new way of doing things, forgetting and failing are always part of the process. They are irrelevant for the outcome, as long as you keep going back to your new habit even if you had failed to practise it the day before. What matters is how you react to failure: do you quit or do you try to learn from your mistakes and try again?

    5. Learning a new way of doing things will require a lot of energy at the start. Think of it as an investment to your future! When the habit becomes a routine, in other words, it becomes automatic, it will save you energy and often also time. If getting started seems difficult, think of this as an investment to your well-being and future.


    Good concentration allows you to reach meaningful goals, which is rewarding. This way, good concentration skills take you towards the life you want to live and pave the way for the future you wish to have.



    Most concentration issues are connected to environmental factors or acquired habits rather than developmental attention deficit disorders. Practising your concentration skills will benefit you, regardless of whether you have been diagnosed with a developmental attention deficit disorder like ADD or ADHD. 

    If you think you might have ADHD or ADD and would like to have the matter looked into, you can contact the Finnish Student Health Service (FSHS). Before contacting them, it is worth considering the following:

    1. Have you had concentration difficulties ever since you were a child? You can ask your parents how your concentration abilities as a child compared to those of other children of your age.
    2. Have concentration issues had a negative impact on other areas of your life apart from school and studying?
    3. Have concentration difficulties caused you frequent and on-going harm, such as careless mistakes and forgotten deadlines?
    4. Does it seem like concentrating is always equally difficult for you regardless of the environment, stress, workload, sleep quality, health condition, mood, ways of life or situation in life?

    The precondition for being diagnosed with an attention deficit disorder is that concentration difficulties have been present since childhood and that the difficulties affect several areas of life. If you think you might have a developmental attention deficit disorder, you should read through the FSHS materials on concentration and its challenges:

    Nonetheless, you can try out the exercises in this material and see what changes your can make to your ability to focus!

    Next, you can go to the left menu and open the first week’s set of our Concentration Training exercises, titled What is concentration? Welcome to a journey towards better concentration!