Becoming distracted is almost an inevitability when studying. But just how much we get distracted can be managed.
Below are five of the biggest procrastination pitfalls you are likely to face, and a brief description of just how badly it can spiral out of control.
Take a Quick Trip to the Bathroom
Your study session is likely to be a long one. So its probably best to duck in and do your business now, before you get caught in the middle of something important that requires your full concentration.
But make sure to leave your phone.
Once you’re in there seated and on the phone, suddenly it’s - Oh hey, a pop up notification! My crops are ready to harvest in SimFarmer. I’d better harvest them quickly or they’ll rot and I’ll have lost my gold coins. Oh great, now I’ve just gotten a notification that Rebecca has had her turn in Words With Friends, I suppose I should make my turn now or I’ll never remember to.
And before you know it, you've become engrossed in all that your mobile applications have to offer, and you've forgotten about study. So keep it strictly business in the bathroom.
Update Your Facebook Status
Surely if you tell everyone on Facebook that you’re studying, they’ll know to leave you alone for a while, right? So why not quickly give a status update to announce your study session.
But now that everyone knows that you’re studying, log out of Facebook.
Turn off your phone’s Facebook notifications, shut down the page, and log out of your email.
As soon as you’re lingering too long, you’ll suddenly see that Sarah has changed her relationship status to ‘single.’ You’ll wonder what happened to her and James. You’ll think that you need to send her a quick message to see if she’s OK. And before you know it, your mind is completely preoccupied with your friends concerns, and not your own studies. If it's an actual emergency, someone will call you on the phone. Otherwise, you can catch up with the social gossip when you're done with study for the day.
According to the Sensis Social Media Report, a survey that is done yearly, Facebook users spent on average 16.64 minutes on the service each time they used it in the past year.
End the time-waste cycle and log out now.
Organise Your Study Area
Like most of us, your desk or study area probably has a layer of assorted clutter exactly where your books and laptop should be.
So why not straighten up your desk, replace the stray books back to the shelf where they belong, and empty the overflowing bin.
Just make sure that once you have an appropriate amount of space in which to study - you actually study!
Otherwise you’ll suddenly become distracted with discoveries like, is that the lid from the tupperware container that went missing? Oh! And there is the sock you thought you’d lost. You’d better take it to the odd socks bag and find its mate. And here is a random battery. You’ll wonder if it works or not. You’d better test it out to make sure. Try it in the tv remote. The tv turns on fine? Oh sweet - it’s a Simpsons episode I’ve never seen.
Suddenly you’re nowhere near the desk you thought you were tidying up, and no longer in a study mode. Stay near the desk, and stay focussed.
Like Robert Brault once said - "I am never five minutes into stripping the clutter from my life before I start running into the clutter that is my life."
Make a cup of Tea or Coffee
Nothing gets you amped up to study quite like a hit of caffeine!
Studies have shown that caffeine improves reaction time and logical reasoning, increases memory, and helps boost memory consolidation.
So pop the kettle on, but while it boils, be careful not to get distracted by wanting to create an extravagant snack to go along with your cuppa!
Forget about wasting time trying to create a cake, or baking up a batch of brownies, if it requires more effort than opening up a pack of biscuits, or grabbing a piece of fruit - save it for later.
Wait until you have deserved a 5 minute break to make a sandwich or a piece of toast, or wait until you’re done for the day if you plan to make a proper meal.
Research on Wikipedia
If you come across something in your studies that you don’t fully understand, you should probably look it up on Wikipedia. That site knows absolutely everything about everything ever!
Though while you’re on an article - make sure you stay on your article!
There is a theory that you can get from any one Wikipedia page to any other completely unrelated page by clicking 6 or fewer links. (For example, you can get from Thermonuclear Weapons to Apricots in 5!) And another theory that says by clicking the first (non italicised) link on every page you will eventually be linked to the page on ‘philosophy.’ It's that simple to become lost within Wikipedia!
There are even Wikipedia related games you can play. They're fun - but it’s a great waste of time, so save it for when you’ve finished studying for the day!
So stick to what's relevant, and stay focussed on the task at hand. That way, you'll be finished sooner, and free to goof off on all the really interesting articles you like.
So, unless you're Ted Mosby (inventor of the Sensory Deprivator 5000) and are able to avoid all distractions, chances are something is going to grab your attention sooner or later and pull you off course. And if we can avoid it spiraling out of control, we're more likely to stay focussed. Stay on target and stay strong!
What is the biggest distraction from your online study sessions? And do you have a specific trick to avoid becoming too sidetracked?
- Studying Online
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