Sights, sounds, smells - it’s easy to find ourselves distracted by our surroundings. Exciting things naturally draw our attention. However, when it’s hour four of studying for that ATC final, suddenly even uninteresting things captivate us. A person walking by, a bump on the wall that looks like an elephant if you squint, or even our own thoughts can keep our mind off of the task at hand. In these last two weeks, when our minds are already at home on break, it is critically important to keep focused long enough to finish the work we have. Thankfully, there are a few steps we can take to counter this.
- Give your phone to a friend. At the very least, turn it off. If you are serious about needing to focus for an allotted amount of time, find a way to take your phone out of the equation. Those texts can wait; Facebook will still be there in an hour.
- Go to the library. It might not be as fun or comfortable as your room, but it’s also far less distracting. It also provides all the resources you might need (computer, printer, copier, and books) for studying in one place. Study rooms can even be great places for groups to meet and work together uninterrupted.
- Choose music wisely. Some music can be great for studying, but when we start playing our favorite tunes, we tend to get distracted singing along in our heads or listening to the words. Choose something that you know works for you, possibly instrumental, and stick with it. Don’t be tempted to choose a different band every few songs or spend fifteen minutes finding just the right playlist. Music is good, but don’t let it distract.
- Use SiteBlock, Cold Turkey, I Free Time For, or a similar program. These programs are free to download and allow you to block web sites from yourself for specific amounts of time. It removes temptation to check Facebook every few minutes and forces you to keep focused on what is necessary.
- Take short, scheduled breaks. It is important not to overwork our brains by trying to study for too long. Breaks are important, but it’s also important to not let a ten minute study break turn into an hour of distraction. Reward completing tasks with breaks or choose a specific time to rest your brain.