Let’s start with a scenario – you’re trying to study for your upcoming finals while working a full-time job. Your phone is blowing up with social media updates and your computer is constantly reminding you of all of your new emails and all of the texts coming from your iPhone. Oh, not to mention your kids are running around the house, tossing spaghetti on the walls, and constantly begging for your attention!
Dramatics aside, the point is this that the possibility of many things which probably aren’t even happening are keeping you from your studies. How on earth can you focus with all the distractions that are in your life? I have two simple suggestions to take distractions away or at least ease the burden or worry.
1. Set Time and Set Place
You’ve heard it a million times- when you study, set aside a specific time and place for your studies every day. This, coupled with having a weekly planning session will ease the stress of finding time to study. Make it known that when you’re in this place at this specific time, you’re studying and to not bother you during those hours. This requires some discipline on your part to be consistent in your planning and the execution of those plans but something this simple is the best way to improve your study time. Making school a priority isn’t always the most fun or convenient, but it can be done! I’ve noticed that the time I spend with others is better spent and more enjoyable when I set aside more of my time to studying.
2. Sectional Positive Reinforcement
This method is usually used in reference to raising kids but it still applies to yourself, no matter how old you are! Positive reinforcement is the process of rewarding someone after achieving specific performance, indicating that they’ve ‘done a good job!’ It might seem odd to reward yourself after achieving different goals but the psychology behind this is proven and works. Start each study session with a checklist of things that you need to accomplish, starting from what needs to be finished first. Once you’ve finished, for example, the first two items on your checklist – take a small break and reward yourself! Maybe it’s as simple as walking away from your computer for 10 minutes and closing your eyes or maybe you want to stagger your study and cook, workout, or go wash your car in between study sessions. It doesn’t matter what it is, just find something that works for you! You’ll find that dividing up your studies for short intervals of time helps you regain focus and work more quickly. Subconsciously, the thought of a reward after performance will also increase your productivity and help you set aside distractions.
3. Use Technology to Your Advantage
One of the most unfortunate ideologies of today is that technology is distracting. I see where it comes from – the thought alone of keeping up with all your social media can cause you to check your phone constantly. Or maybe technology is intimidating to you. Either way, technology today is the single most important factor for businesses and individuals alike to become more efficient and help you get more done in less time. As I mentioned previously, planning out your schedule a week at a time is key – I prefer using Google Calendar because I find it’s the easiest and most efficient way to schedule. Also, there are apps that help you manage alerts coming from your computer and/or phone, so that you don’t get distracted during key study time. One app I really like is called ‘Studious’. This alert-management app takes your school schedule and manages alerts during the hours of the day you are either studying or in class. I put alerts to silent during all my classes, so my phone never goes off and consequently I never feel the need to check. In all honesty, I forget I have the app installed, so I assume that I don’t have any updates. There are countless other similar apps similar to this that can help you focus and keep the distractions as far away as possible.
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