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How do you manage distractions whilst studying?

Being focused can help smooth the path to success in your qualifications. Here are things you can do to help you make that focus work for you.

First, clear any known and possible distractions

  • Set your phone to silent for the study period. Remember: a non-smartphone can be distracting too.
  • Make sure you’re not hungry before you study.
  • Make sure you’ve had enough sleep – tired people are prone to distractions
  • Use an app to send unwanted websites and apps into “sleep” for the duration.
  • Schedule a break so you’re not distracted into having one too soon or too late.
  • Ask not to be interrupted

    You have made a commitment to study and are entitled to have that respected. However, many interruptions from others occur only because we allow them to. Most people will be understanding and accommodating to your wishes should you ask to be free from distractions.

    In the unfortunate event that your request is not respected, calmly repeat the assertion, “I do need some peace and privacy in order to study now. The consequences of me not getting that peace is that my studies will suffer.” Give people as much notice as possible of what you need by sharing your schedule with them. Make it clear that you’re available if there are emergencies to deal with.

    Prioritise – and try not to multitask

    You’re more likely to be distracted if you don’t feel in control of your time so make sure that you’re focusing upon key academic tasks and that you are not simply delaying tackling problems – in other words, concentrating on the largest, most pressing issues whilst planning to reduce the incidence of similar or other future problems.
    It is easy to be tempted into multitasking, however, shopping online while trying to revise is not appropriate multitasking! Keep focused upon your priorities.
    You may find that using time-and-project management programmes may help.
    Now that you’ve prepared yourself against foreseeable distractions, you’re also better prepared to deal with unexpected ones.

    Are you feeling on the verge of being distracted? Pause and take a breath

    Like any other feeling, the urge to interrupt your work and to accept interruptions from others can be commonplace – so it is important that we recognise the first signs of such distractions.
    When the temptation to interrupt your study or to accept and respond to some distraction from elsewhere, try to close your eyes, breathe deeply in and out and picture the mental message – for example, “ignore social media”. You can do the same with any other intrusive thoughts that enter your mind. Continue until the desire to be distracted has gone. If this takes 5 minutes and spares you 20 minutes of unproductive interruption, then it is well worth it.

    Schedule breaks for mind-clearing

    These can take three forms:

    1. Short periods of reflection
    2. Relaxing tasks
    3. Moments of mindfulness such as meditation

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