“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.” – Winston S. Churchill
Distraction is a great enemy of productivity. It’s one of the challenges students are struggling with to overcome. On average, students get sidetracked two minutes into their work. Majority of students want to pay attention to their book work but the more they try to do so, the more they find themselves caught in the net of distraction. They can’t focus their energy on the work at hand. Consequently, their academic performance is affected.
As a student, would you want to overcome distraction and focus on your study? Would you want to defeat distraction, the enemy that wants to hinder you from achieving excellence in your academic pursuit? If you truly desire to, then this article is for you. Here in this write-up, I will show you some of the practical approach you can use to eliminate distraction (or reduce it to the barest minimum), and get the best from your study session.
Here are 6 ways to avoid distractions, get maximum concentration and learn better.
- Practice healthy eating habits: Many researches have shown that there is an association between diet quality and academic performance .The type of food you eat, the time you eat it and the quantity of it that you eat can either serve as a source of distraction or help you to focus and concentrate more during study. To avoid distraction, a)Eat the right food: Different food types have different effects on the brain. There are some food types that induce sleep few minutes after they are taken. b) Don’t overeat: Don’t overfeed your stomach especially with heavy food. Getting overfed gives you an uncomfortable feeling. You feel sleepy. And when this happens, you can’t concentrate on your study. So, just before studying, eat just the right quantity of food. Instead of taking a full plate, you may decide to consume half of it. Don’t say: “Let me eat much so that I will not bother about food till the evening.” Doing this will distract you from concentrating. You will not be able to study effectively. c) Eat at the right time. The time you eat matters when it comes to studying. When you’re hungry, the brain lacks the ability to focus. So eat immediately you feel it’s time to do so.
- Read in your best place: The next strategy for fighting and overcoming distraction is reading in your best place. To fully concentrate on your study, you should read in the place most convenient for you. For the quiet reader – those who can only concentrate in a quiet environment – go to the library if you have access to one. If there is no library or can’t access a library, look for a good place to do your studying.
- Study in your ‘study arena’: This is similar to point #2 above. But I mean something a bit different here. There are different places meant for different types of work. Create a particular place; an arena that you only use for studying such that anytime you are in the place, nothing else comes to your mind except studying. Whenever you’re in your study arena, everything in you tells you that it’s business time (time to study). When the whole of your mind is flooded with the consciousness, “I’m in my study arena”, you find it easier to focus and concentrate on the business of the moment which is studying.
- Remove all temptations: Temptations are the things or conditions that could break your concentration and focus. Here, I will focus on two very common temptations you must remove from your study arena. They are the cell-phone and the TV.
- Your cell-phone: You will agree with me that one of the major things that make students lose focus and concentration during study session is their hand-set. You do have your hand-set with you sometimes during your study sessions, right? Good! How would you describe the role it plays in helping you to concentrate? Once your cell-phone rings, it is very difficult to ignore it if it is within your reach. You must be moved to ‘ok’ the call or take a view of the message that has just entered. And also, you would always have the urge to chat or update your social media pages like face-book, WhatsApp, etc.
Have you ever experienced this scenario painted below?
You planned having a study session to prepare for a coming test or examination and you had in mind to use an hour. Full with enthusiasm, you started off but having your cell phone by you. While you try to gain more focus, suddenly your phone begins to ring with a tone similar to that of a crying baby that cannot be ignored by a caring mother. This happens about ten minutes after you began. Taking a cursory look at the caller, it is your mother who has not spoken with you since last week. With excitement, you pressed the Ok button and discussion started. For three minutes, it was a very pleasant moment of interaction with lovely mummy. You hanged up and began studying again. After another five minutes, your phone vibrated. Picking it up, you saw that it is a message from your close friend asking you to help him/her sort out a disturbing issue. In order to prove you are a good friend, you replied and that was the beginning of exchange of text messages between you and your friend. When you have satisfied your friend, you looked at the time and behold, fifteen minutes have just been used for chatting with your friend. You dropped the phone and you continue reading. After five minutes of studying, you heard a ping from your phone. What is it this time around? It is a WhatsApp message from another friend of yours, informing you that he/she has just uploaded the picture you requested. Unable to wait after your study period before seeing the picture, you quickly login to your face-book account. And not only did you spend minutes viewing the pictures uploaded on your page, you began updating your timeline. And before you realized it, 20 minutes have gone like the flame of a candle.
Now come to think of it. You allotted an hour for the study originally. But how many minutes were used for the actual study at the end of the allocated one hour? Again, how many of the study’s objectives can you say were achieved? ‘Wonder shall never end’ they say.
From the above painted picture, can you sincerely judge for yourself the negative effect of your cell-phone on your study session and in turn on your academic performance?
It is difficult to understand what you are studying when you are busy answering calls, reading and replying text messages, updating your Facebook/WhatsApp pages, etc. It will be an uphill and fruitless task. It will only be a waste of time as the brain needs maximum level of focus and concentration to absorb information and get them retained. Knowing this fact, what should you do to avoid all the distractions caused by your cell phone? Simple!
- Switch-off your phone when you want to study
- If the phone must be left ‘turned-on’ (perhaps because you want to know who tried calling you), then put it on a silence mode (I said silence mode, not on vibration mode) and
- Keep it very far away from you. According to the the presence of a cellphone can distract a person even when not in use. Supporting this, study author, Bill Thornton said the sight of cell phone remind people of the “broader social community” they can access via testing and the internet (http://time.com/3616383/cell-phone-distraction/ For this reason, your phone should not be on your study table at all during your study session, whether it is put on silence or not.
The T.V Set
Another temptation you should remove to ensure maximum concentration during study hour is the box called television. Today, a lot of time that should be channeled into learning is wasted right in front of this box. This has really contributed greatly to the poor performance and failure of many students.
If you must be successful in your study and get higher grades, then you must be able to train yourself on the right time to watch the T.V. To avoid the distractions caused by the T.V, practice the following steps.
- Switch off the T.V. during study period.
- If it cannot be turned off because of the benefit of others in the house, then you must move to another room or a place where there is no T.V and study there.
- 5. Make your study period known to your family members, friends and others: To fully understand this point, let me begin with this story. Peter sat down, ready to do his assignment after school so as to meet up with the deadline for submission which is the following day. Soon after he started his home-work, the father called him to give an account of how he used the money given him in the money to school. Few minutes of getting back to the room to continue his reading, he heard the mother calling him to run an errand for her. 5 minutes after he returned, he had a knock on his door. It was John, his friend who needed his attention for a few minutes. And it does not end there; similar distractions keep calling in. What do you think is wrong here? Would you say Peter was wrong by responding to the demand of the father, the mother and even the friend? Not at all. It would have been an outright disobedience if he refused especially the parents. But doing this greatly interrupted the free flow of his study or completion of his home-work.To prevent the above painted situation, I recommend that you simply tell your family members and others to give you privacy whenever you want to study. In a polite but serious manner, tell them especially those you think are going to come and divide your attention that: “Please, I have a test tomorrow and I must read for at least three hours now. I will really appreciate it if I’m not interrupted within this period.” Do you think when you say this, they will be offended? They will not at all. Do you know why? Your family members and friends desire your success and so will do anything to help you achieve it. Each time you want to study especially in the house, inform those in the house and even your friends, asking them you would be grateful if your attention is not drawn to other tasks until you have finished studying. Like I said, your loved ones want your success, so they will grant your request
- 6) Have enough sleep and rest. Several studies have shown that lack of adequate sleep among students affect their academic performances and day time functioning. It’s shown that students who get less sleep than their bodies need (like those who pull “all-nighters”) are more likely to have lower grades and GPA than students who get a sufficient amount of sleep.Denying your body adequate night sleep affects your day performances due to micro-sleep. Micro-sleep is uncontrollable because as it is said, “You cannot cheat nature.” This makes you lack focus and concentration during lesson/lecture or study periods. So to ensure that you do not suffer from micro-sleep during the day which distracts you, always sleep well during the night hours.
Wrapping it up
Distractions are little things compared to your academic goals. You cannot achieve your big goal of academic success if you allow small things to distract you. Granted, it is really hard to overcome distraction in a world where they exist in every corner we turn to. But knowing and understanding the importance of focus in getting the best from your study sessions enable us to strive harder to successfully deal with these distractions.
I’m confident that the above 6 strategies will greatly help you overcome distraction if only they are put into use. I urge you to follow them and you will surely concentrate more, learn better and become a more successful student.
Author: Oghovemu Okpu
I’m a writer and founder of Happy Better You (HBY); a personal development platform where I help you with the tips, resources and inspiration you need to become a happy better version of yourself so that you can live the happy better life you were created to fulfill.
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