Minimizing Distractions

Noise when working

Distractions are an age-old obstacle to productivity. In the age of technology and stay-at-home learning, many students are finding it difficult to stay on-task and up to date with their academic studies. Let’s take a closer look at the most common sources of distraction and how we can manage them to increase our productivity.

Environment - Your surroundings play an important role on your focus and productivity in any given task. Environmental distractions are usually easy to spot and the first thing that people tend to address. Make sure to carve out a quiet study spot with little to no foot-traffic. If you want to go further, my personal tip is to make your study space distinctly different from your leisure space for better mental conditioning.

Technology- Let’s be honest. When it comes to distractions, your cell phone is enemy number #1. The allure of interrupting your studies to go on Instagram or Facebook is nearly irresistible. A simple tip I could provide is to use your device to manage your device. There are many great apps out there that help you limit your phone time by locking you out of your device for a preset amount of time, tracking the time you have spent studying,  and even offering certain rewards per hour of studying. With some research into these apps you could effectively turn your worst distraction into a great productivity asset.

Other people –Involving others in your study sessions can be a double-edged sword. In some cases you might find that your friends hold you accountable and keep you on track, while in others you might finds that the study session is quickly derailed and has turned into a personal conversation. This does not happen if you study with a teacher, choosing tutoring Vaughan academy. Generalizing the effectiveness of group-studying would be a mistake, as it differs on a case-to-case basis. However, if you do study as a group, I would recommend that the session be dedicated towards practice and revision of previously learned concepts and NOT learning new topics together. This is because everyone learns/absorbs topics differently but during practice and revision your study-mates might be able to offer practice questions you would not have thought of or different point of views that could enrich your underlying understanding of the topic.

Mental fatigue (Pomodoro) – So far we have been discussing the different sources of distraction, but not why we get distracted. Two words: mental fatigue. Its been shown that our minds are unable to effectively focus on any single task for longer than a certain period of time. This period can vary between individuals (generally between 20 to 45 minutes) and after this our mind tries to latch on to anything else in our vicinity (i.e distractions). Trying to push past this period of time deteriorates the quality and effectiveness of your studying. This is where Pomodoro comes in. The technique revolves around segmenting your study sessions with small breaks. Usually this is 25 minutes of dedicated and focused studying (no phone/distractions) followed by a 5-minute break. This ratio can be altered to fit your own personal needs (for example a 45 to 15 minute ratio). After 4-5 rounds of this a student can take a longer break. Look into this technique and customize it to your needs. If you implemented successfully, Pomodoro could help sustain longer studying periods without distraction.

All in all, maintaining your productivity and study efficiency comes down to two things: (1.) minimizing distractions in your vicinity and (2.) trying your best to prevent mental fatigue and build up stamina for longer study periods.