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ASC: Supports for Students - Academic Coaching and Study Skills

Distractions

Because we live in the information age, there are many things that can distract you from your studies. A call on your cell phone, a Youtube video to watch, or a social media newsfeed to scroll through may grab you attention and cause you to look away from your work. When you switch tasks frequently, you actually do none of the tasks well. For example, if you are working on a report, then open a new window on your computer to answer an email, and then go back to your report window, your brain takes extra time to switch between each task. Both your ability to write the email and your ability to write the report will be sacrificed because it takes longer for you to remember where you were each time you switch tasks.

In order to complete high quality work, avoid checking email, texting, or visiting social media sites while studying, writing and having online classes. This type of multitasking can make you:

  • Feel scattered and disorganized.
  • Make mistakes more easily
  • Experience a higher level of stress.

Cut down on multitasking by limiting distractions:

  • Find a quiet place to work and use headphones to block out outside noises.
  • Eat a snack if you are hungry so you aren’t distracted by a grumbling stomach.
  • Turn off notifications on your phone and laptop while you are working so you aren’t tempted to answer.
  • Take frequent breaks so your brain can recharge.
  • Create a daily schedule and follow it.
  • Self monitor and engage in self talk. Recognize when you are getting distracted and refocus your attention. Tell yourself: “I can finish this.”

Use the Pomodoro method to plan out regularly scheduled breaks.

The Pomodoro method is designed to provide you with a 25-minute work session followed by a 5 minute break. You can use a timer or the Pomodoro website to set an alarm for both your work and break time. If you prefer to have longer work or break times, you can adjust the timer settings as you see fit. Keep in mind that working for longer than 1.5 hours without a break, is not ideal for your concentration levels. After you have had a number of work and break cycles, you can schedule yourself a longer break as a reward.

The Pomodoro method can also help you improve your retention of information.

Spaced Practice: When you space out your learning, you take that same amount of study time, and spread it out across a much longer period of time. This way, that same amount of study time will produce more long-lasting learning.

Watch this video to understand how Spaced practice can help you with your studying.

If technology is causing you to get distracted while working, you can block it out.

Use an App, such as Keep Me Out, to restrict or limit your access to addicting websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

References

American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Multitasking: Switching costs. American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/research/action/multitask