8 Ways To Conquer Distraction
If you’re going to have any success with your studies, then you have to learn how to conquer distraction. While no one can blame you for tuning out — especially when you’re dealing with one of those subjects you despise — being relatable will not get you good test scores. For that, you have to know what your weak areas are, and you have to go after them with all you’ve got. That’s hard to do this day and age, where communication is instant, and we have more cool tech toys than we can shake the proverbial stick at. Even so, it’s possible to conquer distraction and to thrive in your studies. You just have to know how to approach the problem.
We’ve put together a list of the 8 ways that we conquer distraction. Hopefully, there will be something in here that you can use in your own efforts. Let’s get started!
One: Add To Your Planner Weekly.
Note the final word — “weekly.” While you may very well need to consult your planner each day for reminders and help staying on track, you should start each week by looking at the major things that you need to accomplish in the next five to seven days. Too often people decide to use their planners — and by “planners,” we mean organizational apps as well — on a daily basis. This starts well, but eventually it becomes a distraction. It can keep you from doing any work at all. Worse yet, it can frustrate you to the point that you give up on planning altogether, and that makes work downright chaotic. Set aside a block of time at the start of each week where you focus on planning and nothing else. Then let it guide you without becoming a dictator of your week.
Two: Conquer The Small Stuff.
We all get overwhelmed. There are times where we feel like we’ve worked all day long and made zero headway. This is especially true for big projects with lots of moving parts. But don’t let a day go by without crossing something off your list. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed by the scope of a project or study material, break away and do some of the smaller tasks, so you can eliminate them from your to-do list and feel motivated and accomplished at the end of each day.
Three: Do A Little Cleaning And Organizing.
When most of your work requires mental effort, it’s easy for those circuits to get fried. Fried circuits are no good to anyone, so give your brain a break and let your body take over. Some people prefer to work out to clear their heads, and that’s fine. However, using your energy to clean and tidy the workspace is a great way to hone your thoughts within the study environment. So take a look around your home office or desk. If you feel the walls of clutter closing in, take charge, clean house, and get organized.
Four: Interrogate Yourself.
Do you often find yourself getting stuck after an hour or two of work? This is common. One thing that always helps — and it’s equally effective if you’re just getting started — is to put yourself under the hot lamp. (No, not literally.) Imagine that you are a suspect in the crime of procrastination, laziness, and distraction. If you don’t answer the questions as honestly as possible, you’re doomed to a life of your least favorite subject. Now, break your project down in smaller tasks by asking a series of questions that speak to the smaller components. If you’re studying science, for instance, ask yourself, “What is it about science that I have the most trouble with?” If the only answer you can come up with is “Everything,” then regroup and ask yourself, “What basic information do I know about this topic?” If the answer is “Nothing,” then you should probably shut-up and listen better in class. Most people know SOMEthing, though, and once you start peeling back that onion, you’ll see the layers that you really stink at, not as some abstract idea, but as a concrete area that can be improved upon.
Five: Don’t Ignore The Crises In Your Life.
Are you feeling sick? Did your significant other dump you for someone else? Maybe you have a friend or a family member, who is in the hospital. Life can be full of crises, big and small, and if they’re a big deal to you, then they’re a big deal, period. In other words, they will get in the way of your ability to work well. For that reason, don’t try to ignore the problems in your life just so you can get some studying done. It rarely, if ever, works out. Instead, take some time away and do whatever you need to do — within reason, of course — to feel like you’ve done all you can do regarding the situation.
Six: Tell People They Won’t Be Hearing From You.
I don’t consider myself a popular guy, yet every time there is a mountain of work that I have to do, I start to question that. Parents, wife, child, siblings — they all seem to rely on me for something when I need to be focused on work. If you have to get some studying done, don’t hesitate to tell these people that you will be unavailable. Just let them know it’s your standard operating procedure with a simple statement like, “I’ll be studying from 2 to 5, so if I don’t answer my phone, that’s why.” You can even let them know that you turn your cellphone and Internet off during those hours (even if you really don’t). Do whatever you have to do to create the expectation of unavailability in your primary distractors.
Seven: Never Pick Up The Same Thing Twice.
If there is an important email you have to return or a phone call or a homework assignment, take care of it right away. Don’t set it aside with the thought, “I’ll get back to it later.” While there are definitely things that can wait, important issues should be dealt with immediately. Likewise, if you know you can get something done quickly, then why not do it now. We don’t know where the adage comes from, but we’ve heard it said that you should “Never pick up the same thing twice.” How true of a statement! If it is important enough to draw the whole of your attention, however briefly, then try putting it to rest so you can focus on the bigger issues at hand.
Eight: Make It Work For You.
Yes, sometimes as hard as you fight to conquer distraction, it simply won’t relent and you have to let it win. However, there is a way that you can end up using it to your advantage. Remember those smaller tasks we advised you to get out of the way? Why not set aside a block of time for nothing but the smaller tasks? From there, allow yourself to be distracted briefly after each accomplishment. For instance, if you have 10 long division problems as a homework assignment, and you estimate that it takes you around four minutes to complete each one, then give yourself an hour, and take “mini-breaks” by checking your email or Facebook after every two or three problems are completed. You might waste a little more time this way, but you end up inserting some productivity into the time when your mind might usually be wandering.
Distractions can be a very devastating thing to our progress, be it in work, play, or education. But if you know they’re out there waiting to derail you, and you’re aware of the forms that they can take, it becomes easier to fight back using the tips we’ve listed above. If you’re wondering how to conquer distraction, any one of these ideas will help. Do you have any of your own? Be sure to share them in our comments section.