Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

How long can you maintain your concentration span?

  1. Jul 16, 2008 #1
    I can read for upto 3 hours before my brain feels saturated. It doesn't matter what it is I am studying after approx. 3 hours in and I can't take in any more. I take a break for 10 minutes but this doesn't seem to help much. When I come back I still feel saturated. How do I expand this? I would like to be able to study longer periods.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 16, 2008 #2
    Literally only a few sec-
  4. Jul 16, 2008 #3


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    What do you do for those ten minutes? Try something that radically alters your thoughts, makes you actually forget the book for ten minutes. Go for a run, clean the eaves.
  5. Jul 16, 2008 #4
    It really depends what the subject is. An uninteresting book, less than a page. If I'm studying something I'm really really interested in, I can study it for 6 hours... probably more but I usually take an extended break by then.
  6. Jul 16, 2008 #5


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    That's really short. If I really get involved in something, it can be incredibly hard for me to break away. I usually have to be really hungry to finally take a real break. If it's a book I'm reading (vs something that requires doing something with my hands), the break will be probably only be long enough to fix something to eat. I'll read while I'm eating. The need for sleep can finally force me to break away, as well. I'm not one for pulling all-nighters for anything unless it's really, really important.
  7. Jul 16, 2008 #6
    Again, dependent on what I'm reading. I can keep reading something for over 2 hours if I was really really interested in it.

    If it's boring, sometimes I can't even finish 3/4 of a page or doze off. That's when I have to basically get my mind off it by doing something else then continuing later on. It's a slow process, but my concentration increases afterward. It's much better than sitting down and forcing to absorb information IMO.
  8. Jul 16, 2008 #7

    few minutes,

    but I know/think practicing mindfulness can enhance your concentration abilities. I just borrowed one book today: "The miracle of mindfulness"

    Just keep on studying, don't care about the saturation or anything. I continue studying until I am half dead (which occurs after every 7 days on Friday evenings). And then, I would watch a movie on Friday (I am still working on finding some more efficient way to recover from burn outs - maybe swimming.) and repeat the same cycle over and over again. Most time gets wasted but in the end, I always know more stuff than my any other friend.

    I am also considering about reading something for leisure (or going to gym/playing piano) every night for like 30 minutes (excluding transition time etc.).
  9. Jul 16, 2008 #8


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I'm like BobG, if it's interesting, there is no limit to how long I will remain engrossed. When I was in my teens, I would go two days without remembering to eat and sometimes not sleeping either. Those days are long gone. If it's boring, but factual, I'd say 6-8 hours at at time would be long enough before switching to something more interesting, but I am rather insatiable when it comes to reading.

    If it is something very complex and over my head, I would need to take more frequent breaks to make sure I am understanding what I am reading.
  10. Jul 16, 2008 #9
    After battling diagnosed ADHD for about 12 years (save the ADD/ADHD jokes/debates please) I have found that the only way I can learn any complex material is to go to the "workshed" in my back yard.

    My workshed is insulated with power/ac/heat, but the 'office' portition is a small 8x10' area. There is 1 window which is about 1x2' and it's about 7 feet off the floor. My shed has no computer, no video games. It is away from everyone else, there could be a house party going on in my house and I would be completely unaware of it. In my where I sit I have notes of useful formulas, theorems, identities, and notes all pinned up on my walls.

    Now what does this have to do with concentration span? Well, I'm so glad you asked. Anytime that I sit anywhere else my concentration span is extremely short and I lose wind very quickly. However I have found that if I am in the proper environment, I go so long and get so involved with what I'm doing that I will "forget" to eat, like Evo previously mentioned. So for me and my racing "adhd" mind, it's all dependent on the environment that I place myself in, and eliminating my distractions.

    in fact, here's a ballin glamor shot
    Occassionaly when I am teaching myself math (currently calc2) I'll bring my notebook so that I can get on #math on irc.efnet.net for assistance.

    granted it may not be as exciting as this

    But like Big Daddy Kane, I get the Job Done
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  11. Jul 16, 2008 #10
    Yea, if I'm on a roll coding I can go 6+ hours straight.

    The longest I've ever read a book is about 8 hours. Finished it in one sitting.

    I usually read for a minimum of 3 hours. But then again, I only read books I have a strong interest in.
  12. Jul 17, 2008 #11
    I am not talking about leisure reading. I was referring to my studying of Griffiths Elecltrodynamics text book. After a while I don't know what I'm reading. When I do the practice sums in that state of mind I make the dumbest of mistakes. Now how I can extend this span of serious learning?
  13. Jul 17, 2008 #12


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    It might help to study with someone else. That way, your silly mistakes get caught a lot sooner than if you were to review them yourself.
  14. Jul 17, 2008 #13
    None of my peers care to read Griffiths. I am 16 years old.
  15. Jul 17, 2008 #14


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    ... or go on facebook :wink:
  16. Jul 17, 2008 #15

    Chi Meson

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    DaveC beat me to this answer: go for a run, or something totally physical that alows you to "zone out." Your brain will decide whether think about what you've been studying, or to simply rest.

    running, swimming, biking, strenuous walking or hiking, or the like work the best (for me).
    Raquetball and things like that won't work because they are mentally taxing, and do not give the brain the prper down time.

    All my own humble O.
  17. Jul 17, 2008 #16
    Ahh Griffiths E&M. The key is to read a chapter straight through. Then read it again. Then one more time. Now just glance through another time. Now go do every problem.

    Repetition is the key. Griffiths has a LOT of info quite condensed, though not completely rigorous, if you're just going chapter to chapter you'll never get it. Re-read each chapter more than once.
  18. Jul 17, 2008 #17


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    How long can you maintain your concentration span?

    I'd say it had better be at least as a lower bound as long as your significant other is talking to you.
  19. Jul 17, 2008 #18
    6:30am is my quitting time.
  20. Jul 18, 2008 #19
    Hi KJ.
    That is somewhat what I do. I read a given section. And do the sums that follow. And I don't mechanically just plug in and solve problems. I take sometime, play around with it see what I can do my own way without the formulas. I just leave first few minutes while solving a problem to intuition. And I come up with nice ways to solve problems and questions pertaining to the problem.

    The way I differ from what you said is that I do it in sections. Any tips for increasing concentration though?
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?

Similar Discussions: How long can you maintain your concentration span?