Even the best students struggle with distractions from time to time. Interruptions become even more bothersome when students take online courses that are more flexible in time management. Without a fixed schedule, many of them spend hours procrastinating until they actually start working on their assignments.
It might be hard to stay on task when you get constant notifications from Instagram or new releases on Netflix. The list of possible distractions is long:
- phone calls
- social media messages
- notifications from apps
- people around you
- busy study environment
Distractions take thoughts away from meaningful work, which makes it difficult to restore focus. Unnecessary interruptions waste students’ mental resources and make them tired even before doing the coursework. Distractions take a toll on their ability to solve problems, memorize and recall information, and develop creative ideas. As a result, their academic performance suffers.
Here are a few strategies that can help you fight distractions while you’re studying.
1. Set Learning Goals
To stay focused, you need to have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish by the end of the day. Every evening make a list of tasks for tomorrow. If you have many assignments, a to-do list will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed and help build intention.
Your list should be detailed. If possible, divide your tasks into smaller parts. For example, if you need to know how to write an explanatory essay, plan how you’ll write its introduction, body, and conclusion separately. This way, the task becomes more manageable and easier to complete.
2. Organize Study Time
Have you ever heard about Parkinson’s Law? It states that “work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” If you give yourself a limited time frame to finish a task, you’ll be less likely to waste it on distractions. By scheduling study time, you’ll accomplish more in less time.
Deadlines are helpful when you need to get something done. However, they can also be stressful. It’s not rare when assignments pile up by the end of the semester. Students feel overwhelmed and pull all-nighters, trying to complete everything in time. If you find yourself in such a situation, contact a paper service. It will save you so much stress and anxiety and help you write an academic paper.
To structure your study time, you can try the Pomodoro technique. Its essence is dividing your learning session into several smaller intervals (from 25 to 45 minutes). Each of them should be followed by a short break. The technique supports more focused learning and reduces distractions.
3. Learn to Manage Thoughts
When people think about distractions, they mostly imagine social media or phone calls. These are external triggers that come from our environment. However, our thoughts are the most common trigger that interrupts studying. Distractions that come from within us are anxiety, fear, uncertainty, and self-doubt.
You might find yourself overthinking, worrying about the importance of your task, or having completely unrelated thoughts. How to deal with mind-wandering?
- Practice deep breathing techniques to focus.
- Acknowledge distracting thoughts and note them down. It’s important to work through them when you have time.
- Good ideas appear unexpectedly. If you come up with compelling writing an informative essay for your social studies class while working on math homework, just note them down. You’ll be able to work on them when you finish more urgent assignments.
- Organize a dedicated study space. It’ll help you to concentrate your thoughts on learning.
4. Put Your Phone Away
Technology makes learning easier in so many ways. But it can also be extremely distracting. In the battle for your attention, it’ll always win against textbooks and lectures. Unless you consciously choose to finish your pro gun control essay, you might find yourself scrolling your feed for hours. Here are some tips that will help you to avoid grabbing your phone every time you see a notification:
- Keep your phone out of your reach. If it is in the distant corner of your room or your bag, you’ll see that you use it less often.
- Include a few breaks when you allow yourself to check social media or surf the internet.
- Sing out of your social accounts. This will make them less accessible during study sessions.
- Use the 10-minute rule if you have to check your phone. It means to wait 10 minutes before following your urge. In most cases, the impulse will go away and you’ll maintain focus.
5. Control Your Study Environment
A major step to eliminating distractions is to rethink your study environment. You’ll be able to stay focused if you:
- Use apps like Forest, Freedom, and RescueTime to block distracting apps and websites. It helps a lot if you rely on your computer or phone to study.
- Set boundaries during your study sessions. Ask your family members and friends not to disturb you when you’re studying. By staying focused on your task, you’ll finish it faster and have quality time with your significant ones later on.
- Find a quiet location. Music, TV playing in the background, and loud conversations will interrupt your thought processes. If you can’t find a place where you can be alone to study, try noise-canceling headphones.
- Declutter your desk. Keep your study space neat and organized. You’ll have everything you need at hand and avoid visual distractions.
Feeling distracted is a natural thing. Our brain continuously searches for new stimuli, which makes it so hard to ignore the urge to check your phone or call a friend when you need to do your homework. Being able to focus on one task at a time without interruptions can make you much more productive. It might be hard at first. Yet, if you make deep learning a habit, it’ll double the efficiency of your study sessions.