Sometimes focusing on studying can become an uphill battle between your mental thoughts, the noise around you, that game you want to play on Facebook… the list goes on. Read on for 10 simple tips and ways to study to combat distraction.
1. Create the right environment.
Distraction is often a byproduct of an environment filled with noise, excess technology, open browsers – you get the idea. Create an environment designed for studying. This can be as simple as clearing your workspace, restarting your computer, and taking a few deep breaths to quiet the mind.
2. Set an intention.
Distraction can also happen when you are unclear about the direction in which you are headed, or what you are trying to accomplish. Set a clear intention for a period of time or a project so that you are always working towards something specific, achievable, and quantifiable.
3. Turn off the channels of communication.
Facebook, Twitter, email, telephone – all of these are great for communicating and reaching out, but when you are trying to stay focused, they can undermine even the most determined of us. Turn your phone to silent, sign out of your email and social media accounts, and know that most communication is non-urgent, so returning to it an hour or two will likely cause no disruption at all.
4. Vary your routine.
Boredom is a leading cause of distraction. When you’re bored, you don’t want to focus and accomplish something specific. You can avoid boredom by varying your routine in terms of your study location, your method of studying (flashcards, asking someone to quiz you, reading aloud versus silently, etc.) and any other factor within your control.
5. Make your goal public.
When you have your reputation at stake, you will be much more likely to meet your goal. So find an accountability partner or post your goal to study without distraction for a certain amount of time to social media, and then follow up with a post stating how you did. Achieving your goal can be even more rewarding when your network knows about it, too!
6. Find support.
Sometimes distraction happens because we are overwhelmed by the tasks in front of us. Finding help can be as simple as taking a study skills class, talking to a friend, or reaching out to a classmate. This is one of the best ways to study efficiently, because when you feel supported and in control, you are more likely to be productive.
7. Manage expectations from others.
Those around you can also be a significant source of distraction. If you know you need to study quietly for the next two hours, but your partner, child or roommate doesn’t know this, it’s bound to result in distraction. Communicating your needs simply and clearly ahead of time can create the space you need without offending those around you.
8. Take breaks.
All work and no play results in… not a lot of work done. Taking breaks is essential to recharge your mental and physical state, so that when you do study, you can use your time well.
9. Prepare beforehand.
Studying can be as simple as finding your book and notebook, but other times, you may need additional equipment. Preparing ahead of time by charging your laptop, printing out any reading material, or downloading study guides can ensure that you spend your designated study time actually studying rather than locating the tools that you will need. Similarly, make sure you are as well-rested, fed, and hydrated as possible so that you are not distracted by bodily sensations of sleepiness, hunger, and thirst.
10. Use time management techniques.
There are a few ways to study and techniques to try; the Pomodoro technique, for example, can revolutionize your use of time. Making use of simple tools for time management can ensure you stay on track.
With these tips, you should find that you accomplish your study goals in less time. Remember to make small changes and tweak your routine according to your daily needs. And give yourself a little leeway, too – nobody is ever 100% distraction-free, so just do your best and reward yourself as you take steps toward an organized, efficient studying routine.
Jinan B. tutors in Life Science in Honolulu, HI. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, teaching various courses including Community Nutrition, Concepts in Nutrition Education, and Advanced Child and Adolescent Nutrition. Learn more about Jinan here!
Photo by UBC Learning Commons