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What's the best way to avoid getting distracted when studying?

#studying-tips

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Anna’s Answer

Azur, the human attention span is generally under 20 minutes, i.e. you can and should expect to get distracted. It is simply our nature to be distracted. What is important is to recognize when you are distracted, acknowledge it, and return your focus on your task. Of course, if you know there are things that easily distract you (for example, your phone notifications for incoming text messages, etc), you should plan how to minimize these distractions or interruptions. You can even hook up the distraction awareness to a productive task - i.e. when you realize you are distracted, look far away from your screen or book to give your eyes some rest or get up and stretch or do both.

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Olga’s Answer

Hi Azur,


There're many techniques that can help stay focused on task. You got some good tips already. What I want to suggest is you need to start with the problem: what is it that distracts you? Phone? E-mail? Friends? Music? TV?  Once you zoom in on the distracting factor, see if you can remove or, at least, reduce it.


You may discover that it is not some external factor that distracts you. Your own mind simply starts drifting away after awhile. If this is the case, it's OK. Anna is right, it is normal for people to get distracted. Switching activities can help restore the focus. When you feel that your can no longer focus on your task,  take a short, 1-2 minute, break. Stand up, stretch, do some jumping jacks, pullups, pushups, crunches... Any physical activity is a great way to re-set your brain.


Here's a little bit of a background information for you about the workings of our brain. For learning to occur, brain needs to have the right balance of chemicals: dopamine for a feeling of reward, and norepinephrine for alertness. This balance is achieved when we pay attention. So when you start getting distracted, the balance between these two chemicals is getting distorted. Typically, the level of dopamine starts going down. To restore the balance and raise the level of dopamine, brain needs novelty. Which can be achieved by either switching to a different activity or to a different learning method. For example, if you were reading a textbook, put it aside and write down some notes. Or do some online research to find additional information on the subject. Or try to retell what you just read... Do it for a few minutes, then go back to your original method of study.


Olga recommends the following next steps:

Figure out what distracts you from learning.
Remove all distracting factors
Use the switching activities technique to help your brain stay focused
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Nicole’s Answer

It is important to determine if there is something physically around you that is distracting. Are you in a quiet spot? Or is it noisy with a lot of movement? Are you finding that it is your phone, or the lure of social media that draws your attention away from studying? When you are able to determine what is drawing your eyes off your notes and books, that will help you make the initial adjustments. For example, if you are able to find a quiet spot with minimal activity this could help you. If you are able to leave your phone in another room, or put it on silent while you study and keep it in your pocket of bag out of sight. If you are not able to get to quiet space to study without distractions, or find that you have difficulties studying in silence, you may want to consider wearing a pair of headphones and playing soft music (without lyrics) to help you focus. Good examples include classical music, film soundtracks, or lofi hiphop.
A good technique to use to help you stay focused while studying is to study for 20-30 minutes then take a 5 minute break. In that five minute break, stretch, have a drink of water, change your position, even treat yourself to a quick look at social media (but keep it to five minutes - set a timer if you need to). Then return to another 20-30 minutes of studying. Repeat this as needed. Another helpful technique is to be more active in your studying practices, and by this I mean don't just read your notes: recopy them, make flashcards, or type them out. This will force you to focus on what you are doing and reading.
I hope these simple practices can help you stay focused as you study.
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Cory’s Answer

I find sound cancellation headphones are a useful, turning or silencing phone, listening to “study” music. Spotify has some nice tunes, type study in the search. Finding a quit time that works best for you, either early morning or late evening.
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Simeon’s Answer

The best way to avoid getting distracted while studying is to study in short bursts: ten to fifteen minutes at a time, but on a regular basis throughout the week instead of one cram session. Also, if you have friends who like to study, it is possible a study group would keep you focused, but be aware that some groups will serve to only distract you even further. Get copies of the notes on your phone (with a notes app or the free Quizlet app) and set an alarm for tiny study sessions. Don't forget you can use time in a passenger's seat or waiting in an office for little bursts of study time as well.
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Adriana’s Answer

Azur,

This truly depends on the environment you are studying in, what you are studying, and how much time you have been able to allocate for yourself. For me personally, studying in the same room I sleep in is really distracting so I need to find a different space completely. I like to listen to "deep focus" music aka soft and mellow instrumental music. And I set alarms for myself. I will study for 45 mins -1 hr at a time. I make sure to put my phone on do not disturb and after 45 mins give myself a quick 5-minute break.

It's also easier to allocate 20 minutes a day for yourself to study than an hr or two. try rereading your notes/conducting your reading on a daily basis if your schedule allows you too.
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Manal’s Answer

First , you need to sit in a study room that's equipped with all needful materials for a focused study for example , a study desk with sufficient light and your study materials such as a note book and your computer . Second, close all devices other than your laptop . Third , have a plan of how to study .

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Angela’s Answer

Hello! I think one of the most distracting things can be getting texts from friends/family or looking at Instagram. Try putting your phone face down or away from your direct sight and not picking it up for 1-2 hours, then give yourself a break for 10 minutes or so. Pick a dedicated space to work or study and keep it clean and organized. I recently found and set up a nice folding desk from Amazon. It's great! Having your own dedicated space, even if it's small, will be very helpful. Good luck!
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Ava’s Answer

Make sure everything around you is ‘perfect’ so your mind doesn’t wander or gets stressed about messiness. I also recommend getting a calendar app. I use google calendar and just having this open a lot relieves focusing anxiety because I can see everything I need to do. One thing that helps me a lot is study music! The super Mario kart study music on YouTube is great. Lastly, before you get into your zone, make sure you have a snack and water next to you because any little task you do while studying can lead your mind off to wandering.
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Justin’s Answer

Isolate yourself from any outside distractions. It's best to study in an environment where you feel most comfortable working on assignments or for study time. I normally study in my bedroom or I head over to my campus library since it's a place where distractions rarely happen. Get yourself a pair of headphones because it gives you the appearance that you are focused and busy. Avoid cell phone time, you will have plenty of time for that when you are finished. Don't be afraid for study breaks, your brain needs rest in between study sessions.
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Shajuana’s Answer

Find a area where you are not going to get distracted easily. It is nice that you have an environment that protea study and allows you to focus. The library or a study room, where it is quiet and everyone there is studying which can help you be more motivated to study. Also, make sure that you turn your phone or any technology destractiona off while you study. Hope this helps!
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Tobi’s Answer

Find the environment which works best for you. This may be a quiet place with minimal distractions or it may be a busy public park where you have your earbuds in to silence your space. There is no singular place that fits us all.

You’ll know that you found the right place for you when you’re using your wise mind (that sweet spot between emotional and rational thinking) to stay in the moment. I find it really helpful to do a short mindfulness exercise to focus my attention. (I’ll send you more info about mindfulness exercises.) Essentially you’re clearing the way for your brain to focus on the task at hand.

If you’ve lost your concentration, it may be a natural sign that you need to take a break. When this happens to me, I walk away, get a drink of water, grab a snack, and do something different for about ten minutes. Then I’m able to get back to work.

There are many ways to clear your head. Again, we need to find what works for you. Keep in mind that this is meant to be a short breather. What are your thoughts?

Tobi recommends the following next steps:

I’ll send a few articles about mindfulness and mindfulness exercises
Also, I’ll send a few articles about mini mind breaks and restoring concentration.
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Bibi’s Answer

To avoid distractions, you need to have a designated area for studying in your home. If you need complete silence to study, then you can use a noise canceling headphone to help you stay focused. Consider turning off your phone when you are studying as it is the biggest distraction, in my opinion. To remain focused, make a list of what you want to accomplish during that time. As you complete each task, mark it off the list to feel a sense of progress. This, in itself will help you to become more motivated to complete all that you need to during your study session. Lastly, make it a habit to read over any notes from your lectures each day for retention and to help you understand better what you did that day.
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Jezreel’s Answer

Definitely be in a quiet place by yourself with comfortable breathing room. Isolate yourself away from electronics. If you must, only limit your usage to maybe 10-20 minutes of break time from your studies. Put a timer to remind yourself of when you need to get back to work/studying so that you can practice discipline. It can be hard sometimes, but it’s worth it when you come to a close in the semester with satisfying grades or even that fact that you accomplished something great to you due to your due diligence. Also, listen to calming study music while working, it helps you get in the zone. My best recommendation for that would be listening to Lofi. Good luck and study hard!! It’ll be worth the time you take away from social media and electronics. Don’t passively get consumed by it!
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Tobi’s Answer

Find the environment which works best for you. This may be a quiet place with minimal distractions or it may be a busy public park where you have your earbuds in to silence your space. There is no singular place that fits us all.

You’ll know that you found the right place for you when you’re using your wise mind (that sweet spot between emotional and rational thinking) to stay in the moment. I find it really helpful to do a short mindfulness exercise to focus my attention. (I’ll send you more info about mindfulness exercises.) Essentially you’re clearing the way for your brain to focus on the task at hand.

If you’ve lost your concentration, it may be a natural sign that you need to take a break. When this happens to me, I walk away, get a drink of water, grab a snack, and do something different for about ten minutes. Then I’m able to get back to work.

There are many ways to clear your head. Again, we need to find what works for you. Keep in mind that this is meant to be a short breather. What are your thoughts? I’m sending you some info about mindfulness & mindfulness exercises, and different suggestions on things you can do to get your brain ready for concentration.
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Elizabeth’s Answer

Environment is important. Being at home can be distracting because there is always something else to do at home. If you go to a library or to study with someone else it's easier not to find another activity or task to do.

Schedule brakes so that you are more likely to focus while you are studying. For example I have found that 50 minutes of studying with a 10-minute break followed by another 50 minutes excetera works well. You can use the break to move around or whatever. It's not as hard to keep studying when you only have short period to go before a break. If you look at your watch and you see that you only have 10 minutes you're more likely to be able to focus.
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Abby’s Answer, CareerVillage.org Team

Hi Azur! I think your question was answered here: https://www.careervillage.org/questions/107103/what-is-the-best-way-to-get-focused-and-start-studying
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Elizabeth’s Answer

Environment is important. Being at home can be distracting because there is always something else to do at home. If you go to a library or to study with someone else it's easier not to find another activity or task to do.

Schedule brakes so that you are more likely to focus while you are studying. For example I have found that 50 minutes of studying with a 10-minute break followed by another 50 minutes excetera works well. You can use the break to move around or whatever. It's not as hard to keep studying when you only have short period to go before a break. If you look at your watch and you see that you only have 10 minutes you're more likely to be able to focus.
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Sappir’s Answer

Some things that help me:

- Get a good pair of noise cancelling headphones and find some good study music (you can find these on Youtube and are meant to help increase studying and focus),
- Put your phone completely out of sight- whether that be at the bottom of your bag or in a different room .If you have a watch that connects to your phone take that off as well or turn off the bluetooth so you don't get notifications constantly.
- I also find exercising before studying helps you get out pent up energy that may be causing you to get distracted or do other things.
- Make sure you are in a comfortable space and not somewhere you will just want to get up or out of.
- Don't study on your bed or any place you associate with relaxing- this would instantly make me tired and not want to study.

Hope this helps!
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Poorna’s Answer

It is excellent that you have been able to identify your difficulty. Nothing helps like good planning. Attention span of Gen Z students is 30 minutes max . Schedule your study time table into slots. Slots can be identified based on which time of the day you are energetic. In a day you can have 4 to 6 slots. Each slot a maximum of 1 hour. Alternate subjects in these slots. Do not read the asame subject in a day. Between the slots you should play or do something that's of interest to you but that as for not more than 30 minutes. Practice and follow your breathing in between. Do not worry if you are not able to do it in a day. Practice makes you better

Poorna recommends the following next steps:

Schedule your reading
Follow your schedule atleast to 60%
Set your goal which sh ould help you perform better
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