How to Avoid Distractions and Stay Focused on Exam Revision
If you find it hard to keep your nose in your text book and are tempted by every little ping of the mobile phone, use these three strategies to minimise distractions and maintain focus on the task at hand.
We hope you found last month’s blog about setting up a study space useful, and that you’re now happily ensconced in a work area that, well, works for you, and encourages consistent productivity.
This month, we look at how to go a step further and minimise distractions for optimal revision. And while it’s true that, these days, distractions – especially those of the digital variety – are manifold, the good news is that there is a lot you can do to reduce the impact on your ability to sustain focused concentration.
Let people know you’re working
It may sound obvious, but be firm with those around you. Tell family and friends when you really do need to work, and be strict with yourself when it comes to social engagements, organising them for after exams or around your breaks. Of course you need family time, not least if you have young children, but ring-fence your work time, too, whether that’s a couple of precious hours on a weekend afternoon or an hour and a half every weekday evening. That work time is yours, so don’t allow yourself to be distracted – put a ‘Please do not disturb’ sign on the door if necessary.
Minimise phone distractions
Your phone is clearly a potential source of myriad distractions. Not looking at it every few minutes can seem to take superhuman discipline. But there are ways of breaking the habit. Get a family member to ‘confiscate’ it, or just put it another room for two good old-fashioned low-tech solutions. Another is to ask yourself ‘Why am I doing this?’ every time your hand reaches, seemingly involuntarily, for your mobile. What will you really miss out on by not picking it up?
You can also disable all automated notifications so you don’t get constant reminders of how many people liked your latest photo on Facebook.
Use apps to block access to social media platforms, and limit yourself to perhaps one hour a day on these. Offtime is one such app, with scheduled timeouts. Meanwhile, an app called Moment helps you track time spent on your device, to shame you into spending less time on it. It also allows you to schedule screen-free time, during which an irritating alarm goes off if you use your smartphone. Flipd hides social media apps to help you to focus, while Space is another blocking app, giving you several options to choose from.
Another trick is to switch your phone screen to greyscale. That may sound odd, but it means everything else looks vibrantly coloured and more appealing in comparison!#StudyTip: A trick you can use to minimise phone distractions during study sessions is to switch your phone screen to greyscale. It may sound odd, but give it a try! Click To Tweet
Banish on-screen distractions
For your PC or laptop, StayFocusd (these things seem to enjoy dropping vowels in their names) is a Google Chrome extension which limits the amount of hours spent on time-wasting websites.
Cold Turkey is one of the toughest blockers around, and it works for websites, games and apps. There’s even a feature that turns your computer into a basic typewriter, so you’re forced to just think and write.
It’s also worth disabling instant messaging functions and email – if you have Outlook for example, this is easy to do, so you’re not tempted to read (and respond to) electronic messages as they arrive. (Try to log out of things such as Skype, too.)
Finally, remember that the most important ingredient in focused revision is your own determination. In a world where distractions are everywhere, that deliberate, committed effort to stay on task must also come from you – it won’t just come from an app blocker.