It can be hard to stay focused in school – but even more so if you study online! There are constant distractions and interruptions that make studying feel challenging or even impossible sometimes.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be impossible. Studying in an online setting takes a lot of self-direction and resolve, but it can be done. To help you with this, we’ve put together three different tools that you can try to help keep you focused on even the most distracting days.
Minimising social media usage
Do you know how much time you spend on social media each week? The New York Times reports that on average, teens spend between five and a half hours to eight and a half hours online – and a lot of that time is eaten up by social media! So, how do we make sure it doesn’t become too much of a distraction when it comes to studying?
There are a few things you can try. The first is the easiest method. Turn your phone off completely and put it far away from yourself! By setting your phone far away from you, fully turned off, you reduce your likelihood of falling down an endless scroll. It also means you won’t be alerted by any notifications, so you reduce your likelihood of trying to see who messaged you, and getting caught up in your phone instead of studying.
This might be a bit too difficult for some people – maybe you need to be able to see a text from mum! That’s no worries, there are still ways you can restrict your social media usage while leaving your phone accessible to you. Forest: Grow Trees, Actuflow, or Stay Focused are all great examples of apps that will allow you to lock your phone or block certain apps for a period of time so that you can focus without the temptation of social media. This is a fantastic way of limiting your distractions (like Instagram or TikTok) while still allowing you to use your phone to communicate for necessary reasons.
Create a dedicated study space
When studying online, a lot of our distractions actually come from offline. You might have siblings that come and annoy you, maybe someone is watching TV and it sounds interesting, or maybe you just get too comfortable in bed and don’t feel like being productive because it’s just too comfortable! All of these can really impact your ability to focus.
One of the best ways you can mitigate this is by having a specific study space. Online learning means that you can study from anywhere there’s internet, but should you? Most of us feel sleepy when we’re in bed, because we use our beds for sleeping. The same is true for our study space. A dedicated study space creates a connection in your brain between your environment, and what it is you’re meant to be doing, which helps keep you on task.
When you set up your study space, there’s a few things you’ll want to consider. One thing is where is it? You’ll want to be in a space that’s relatively quiet and free from distraction; so a place like the living might not be your best bet if you have lots of family passing through. You might have some trouble finding space within your home, but if that’s an issue there are always fantastic places like public libraries that offer an internet connection and a quiet atmosphere. If you can, it’s best to find a place that has as few distractions as possible – so maybe try avoiding wherever you keep your gaming console!
You’ll also want to make sure your study space has all the necessary items you’ll need for study. Any books, notes, stationery such as calculators, rulers, and pens should be included in this. You may even want to include some snacks if you know you get hungry while studying. The less you have to get up to find things, the less likely to be distracted you’ll be. By having everything you need with you, and a quiet dedicated environment to study in, you minimise your risk of your study flow being interrupted.
Try a to-do list
Sometimes part of what makes focusing hard is not knowing what to do. This is where you might like to try making a to-do list! At the start of the day, before anything else, write down your goals for the day. This might include some assignments you have to finish, some assignments you want to get started on, or even some self-development projects like going for a run or creating some art. What you put on your to-do list is totally up to you.
No matter what your goals are for the day, a to-do list keeps them at the forefront of your mind. As you smash out your goals, you’ll be able to tick them off, and see your list get smaller and smaller. This is particularly great for visual learners, as you can see how you’ve been spending your day. On the flipside, if you get halfway through your day and realise that you haven’t done anything yet, a to-do list is a great reminder for what you need to start with, and gives you a clear plan for the day. It will help to keep your day organised and on track!
Ultimately, there is no one quick fix to keep you from being distracted in an online setting. Sometimes it feels impossible to put down your phone! But using some extra tools, like the ones in this list, you might find that it becomes a little bit easier to sit down and focus when there are less distractions around you. Best of luck, and happy studying!
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