Various distractions pose a serious threat to learning productivity. While a couple of minutes here and there spent on social media or other activities seem innocuous at first, the amount of time actually spent on things that are not essential add up to precious hours that could have otherwise been spent productively on learning tasks.
To help tune out the noise and focus on studies, I’ve put together this helpful list of tricks and tools.
- Develop a routine and stick to it.
Without a set schedule, life can become chaotic. To prevent chaos from overrunning priorities, adopt rituals in daily and weekly routines. By closely following the rituals that have been set, focus and better work can be maintained. Rituals that make up the daily routine can be evolved using different techniques and practices.
Quick Tip: Don’t forget to set self-study time into the schedule.
- Find the right place to study or work.
Picking the right place to study is crucial because it has a major influence on the efficiency of the learning process. While studying in the room, distraction by TV, video games, or a magazine lying next to the bed may occur. Be sure to find a quiet and well lit place. It is a good idea to make sure that the chair and desk are ergonomically designed for greater productivity if planning on spending long hours working or studying. A bad physical setup can mess up both the posture and work efficiency.
- Turn off all electronic devices.
While everyone loves tablets and smart phones, these gadgets expose a world of distractions. Ironically, many of these devices were meant to save time but they end up wasting valuable time instead. For many people, cell phones have become the “new best friend” that enables them to see what everyone is up to. Even if the smart phone is not actively accessed; notifications, texts, and incoming calls would be a major distraction.
The bottom line is that the mobile device is the enemy of productivity therefore make the study space and time a gadget-free zone.
- Establish priorities.
Strategize & prioritize what’s important and plan the day. Keep not one, but two to-do lists. One is a master list of all high level priorities, and the other, a daily to-do list. A “Not To-Do” list, can track time-wasting activities that should be avoided. Remember, multitasking is counter-productive. Don’t do it!
- Visualize with paper.
In many contemporary classrooms, tablets and computers are beginning to replace pen and paper for note-taking. However, ditching the keyboard and writing out the notes by hand is always an advisable option. It is more engaging and provides a means for visualizing ideas, and questions.
- Shut down other windows.
While engaged in course material, studying, or practicing lesson concepts, it is of paramount importance to be diligent in blocking out the potential distractions. For those who lack the self control needed to ward off digital distractions.
- Know when to say “No.”
While learning something new and exciting, it’s easy to take on a lot but doing so sometimes abruptly leads to situations wherein one finds oneself intensely busy yet facing the dilemma whether to fit other related activities in the already tight schedule.
When taking on new work, make sure that these activities serve the higher purpose. Start saying NO to activities that complicate the schedule, suck up time, and create stress. On the other hand say YES to activities that simplify life, reduce stress, and create more time.
- Set reminders.
In any endeavour, it becomes very easy to forget stuff as one gets busier. It often happens that people become so engrossed on what they are doing that they lose track of time therefore it is important to set reminders and work as per plan.
- Schedule distractions.
As the famous saying goes, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” The fact is, working without breaks will do far worse. It can get real tiring and burning out while studying the subject, abruptly preventing further progress in the learning track. To avoid burnout, set regular breaks into the schedule and think of them as rewards for hard work, to keep fresh and alert. Make sure to also schedule “me” time or time with loved ones in the evenings and on weekends.
- Reflect and adjust.
Closely monitor the schedule on a daily and weekly basis and make adjustments. Also, regularly ask the following questions:
- What is my main goal?
- What is my goal for the week?
- What do I need to do today?
- Where am I at the moment?
- Is this technique/schedule working?
- How can I improve it?
I hope these tips help you to improve study and work efficiency.