I have a terrible attention span. When I am trying to study or read for my classes, I find myself doing anything but studying or reading. With exams around the corner, I think it’s time for all of us to buckle down and eliminate distractions.
Some major distractions for me are: TV, my fiancé, Netflix, the internet and friends.
It is really hard for me to push past distractions and focus on the task at hand, especially if the task at hand isn’t engaging. I would much rather relax and watch Castle or go to the Moose with my fiancé for dinner than make notes from my textbook and class readings.
So how do I get on task when I need to? Frequently I don’t. Usually I give in to my impulses and find myself in crunch time at the last minute for whatever assignment I have due or test I have soon. But lately I’ve been getting better at focusing.
Allow me to digress for a moment, I ran a marathon in October this year (my first marathon) and people kept asking me afterwards “how did you do it?”. It is pretty simple. You just train for it. You just have to do it. It’s the same with terminating distractions. You just have to stop them. It’s just figuring out how to eliminate them and what works best for you.
I find if I go to the library at 9:30am and study for a few hours before class that it helps to eliminate most of my distractions. Most of my classes start at 12:30pm so getting into the habit of going to the school early eliminates many distractions that I have. I think an important key for eliminating distractions is to establish a study spot; whether it is your desk at home, a seat at the library or a corner in the school, associating a certain place with being focused and studying helps to increase your ability to focus.
Additionally, eliminating things like my laptop and cell phone also help get rid of distractions, which is actually really hard to do, especially when I am using them for my classwork. My phone I can just turn the ringer off and I am able to leave it alone. But when I need to use my laptop for schoolwork, I usually just close my web browser altogether and sometimes even remove the internet browser icon from my toolbar while I study so I don’t even have the temptation to click it. It helps to remind me that I need to focus on the work at hand.
A third thing I like to do is make a list of things to do after I’m done studying. Quite often I will come up with things I want to look up online or things I want to do rather than study. I usually keep a piece of paper with me while studying to jot down these things and then I look at it during a study break or after I am done studying. Most of the time, half of the things I can cross off because I don’t care anymore. But overall, this helps me to focus on what I need to do by putting off random thoughts that try to distract me.
What can help you focus? Music? Snacking? Creating a routine? Studying at the library? Using an app to keep you on task? Taking a break once in a while?