Dealing with Distractions

Getting down to work and staying focused when you’re studying can be a real challenge. Of course some people are excellent at ignoring them, but many of us aren’t quite there yet. Distractions are everywhere and they can make completing assignments and reviewing for exams very difficult if you don’t have a way to block them out. Once you get distracted, it can take a very long time for you to get back to your original task and it will inevitably hinder your long-term productivity. With the willingness to change habits and a bit of self-discipline though, you can learn to better deal with these distractions and therefore work more efficiently. Here are some tips that you may find to be helpful:

Keep your phone out of sight.

There is no doubt that our phones are our biggest distractors. While they are a huge help in many aspects of our lives, they are definitely not our friends when trying to complete work. We constantly receive new notifications and the temptation to check every new pop-up is strong. Although it requires a lot of self-discipline at first, putting your phone away completely when studying already removes some of the urge to check it. Plus, even if you do receive notifications, you won’t be seeing them.

Block unrelated websites during study periods.

Many of us work on the computer to study, but like our phones, our computers are another big distractor. Opening a tab on something other than your next class’ reading is only one click away, so make it harder for yourself to do this. Blocking websites means scheduling time on a website blocking app that will cause certain websites to no longer be accessible during that time period, so that even if you were to try, your computer wouldn’t allow you! Perfect for staying on task during exam period.

Reduce auditory and visual distractors in your study space.

Movements and noise often don’t go hand-in-hand with productive studying. Although some people will be able to focus just fine in areas with many auditory and visual distractors, some won’t. If that’s you, try avoiding places with TV screens, games, people pacing, and lots of talking. This might mean saying no to studying with friends at a coffee house. If noise is a big one for you, noise-cancelling headphones and certain music might also help.

Don’t be afraid to change your study space.

Where you study also plays a big part in how much you get done. What used to work for productive studying might not work anymore, so don’t be afraid to change it up once in a while. The library works well for many people, because the studious atmosphere functions as an incentive to study hard as well. However, sometimes being in the comfort and quiet of your own home can offer a less stressful working environment and make staying focused easier.

Take breaks.

Taking regular breaks is vital to successful studying. Not only is it important for you to write high-quality papers and retain information, but you are also more prone to getting distracted if your mind is tired, you’re hungry, or you’ve been sitting in the same spot for too long. The trick is taking regular, reasonable breaks and being self-disciplined enough to get back to work afterwards. Otherwise, the break itself just becomes another distraction – the opposite of what you want it to do!

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