Our everyday lives are full of distractions that have a negative impact on our productivity. They interfere with work and study by decreasing our ability to concentrate. Unfortunately, many people underestimate how much they get distracted by the environment around them. To make the most out of your study, you should be completely focused on it.
Some students prefer reading and listening to background music or TV simultaneously. They believe that it doesn’t distract them that much so they don’t want to give up this habit. Psychologists decided to research how background speech influences the efficiency of information absorption. Scientists proved that irrelevant speech in the background worsens the ability to complete study-related tasks. During the experiment, they recorded eye movements of participants as they were reading some texts and listened to someone’s speech at the same time. Researchers found out that participants needed to make more effort while reading as they had to get back to the previously read text more often in order to re-examine it. It happened because people’s mind processed the meaning of speech, even though there was no need to do that as it had nothing in common with the information in their books. Another eye-tracking experiment also proved that listening to music during the process of studying diminishes the efficiency of reading in the same way as background speech. However, it is not true for music without lyrics. So if you like listening to music while studying, it would be better to choose some classical pieces rather than the latest pop songs.
So according to the studies, our brain gets easily distracted by the things that we don’t even consider disturbing. Thus, we should pay more attention to the way we study and remove all the distracting factors to make the learning process productive. How to do it? Consider the 7 tips described below.
Put your smartphone on ‘do not disturb’ mode
You know that resisting the distraction of your phone is not easy. Social media apps keep sending you notifications all the time, you get calls from friends and always need to check your news feed. Smartphones can be extremely distracting! To deal with the habit of checking your smartphone every 10 minutes, you should be honest with yourself. Obviously, you realize that only a few messages and phone calls need an immediate response from you. Thus, it is reasonable to get back to them during your study break instead of giving a prompt reply. If it’s too difficult for you not to react immediately, put your smartphone on silent mode and put it far away from you. Check your phone every 50-60 minutes when you have a pause, so this way you won’t be interrupted.
Deal with hunger before studying
Sometimes it’s difficult to concentrate because of physical discomfort such as hunger or tiresome. If you are going to start doing homework, make sure you are not hungry. Have a snack before studying but don’t eat a big meal as it can make you feel drowsy.
Limit your Internet access
Have you noticed how your intentions to use the computer for work fail and you find yourself on YouTube or Facebook instead of studying? I’m pretty sure it happens with everybody from time to time. If you realize that you can’t resist surfing the Internet while studying, turn it off before you begin to work. In case you need access to some online resources, like unique free essay samples, you can download them in advance so you won’t need the Internet. Use the power of the world wide web effectively and don’t allow it to distract you from important tasks.
Discuss your privacy with people around you
We all know that people surrounding us can be very disturbing. Your mom probably comes to your room to ask about your day while you’re studying, or maybe your younger siblings need help with their homework. Sometimes your friends come over to you to chat or someone asks for a piece of advice. You can continue this list yourself as you probably face such distractions quite often. So what to do in this case, especially if the relationships are really important to you? I would recommend you to talk to your loved ones about some privacy. You can come up to the people who are most likely to distract you from studying and ask them not to interrupt you for some time unless it’s something urgent. Explain to them how important it is for you to focus on studying and thank them for understanding.
Get enough sleep
It seems almost impossible to get eight hours of sleep as a student. There are always so many necessary tasks to do that sleep seems to be not so important compared to projects and assignments. But sleep is vital for your productivity as it affects your concentration and memory. So if you want to perform well and stay focused without getting easily distracted, don’t neglect your rest at night.
Make frequent pauses
If you are working for a long time without taking regular breaks, your brain gets tired. Your ability to concentrate gets worse and you can’t focus effectively anymore. Some minor things start distracting you and you pay attention to all unnecessary stuff around yourself. To prevent that, set a timer for regular breaks every 30-60 depending on how quickly you get tired or lose focus.
Use an organizer
Instead of getting distracted by thoughts of what you need to do and how to order your tasks, use an organizer to manage them. There are a lot of online tools helping you to prioritize tasks and be focused on one thing at hand. You can check Asana, Trello, or Jira and choose the one that fits you best.
The study process can be efficient only if you can focus on it and ignore all the distractions. Productivity depends a lot on how attentive you are. That’s why you should do your best to diminish all the distractions and concentrate on your study.
Connie Elser is a scientist who researches brain processes related to learning. She studies how people absorb information and gain new knowledge. Connie wants to help students get more productive and make the most out of their college years.