Common Distractions While Studying Online
In today’s digital world, a million different things are vying for our attention. Ads, games, social media, and more constantly flash across our screens and ding our phones. In 2018, a survey suggested that 75% of Americans struggle to keep focus at work due to digital notifications. Thus, it should be no surprise that students of virtual classes and schools run into serious distractions while studying online.
Imagine having to stay focused on a boring, long lecture when the entire internet is at your fingers. Additionally, when you’re studying at home, you also have free access to your television, game systems, refrigerator, and basically anything and everything you can use to procrastinate.
It takes a great deal of self-control to stay on task in online programs. And, sometimes, self-control isn’t enough. We can’t control the world around us, especially when kids are involved. But there are steps you can take to ease your educational journey.
8 Tips to Avoid Distractions While Studying Online
Today’s world is designed to distract us, to make picking up the phone more appealing than doing whatever’s in front of us. Indeed, think about what you do when you get a text. Do you just read it, reply, and set the phone back down? Or do you check your other messages, social media, email, and more? Most of us tend to do the latter, and technology encourages us to do so. Apps send us pointless or annoying notifications reminding us to keep playing, log on, and see what our friends are doing.
Beyond technology, many of us have pets, families, and children to take care of. Our social lives may also come knocking as we try to study. Basically, the world doesn’t stop just because we have homework. So, what can we do to avoid distractions while studying online? Keep reading to learn more about our top 8 tips.
1. Create a Schedule
One of the best ways to stay on task in an online class is to set a schedule. It’s easy to fall off coursework when you don’t have to attend lectures or have scheduled class times. Indeed, students often struggle with finding time for their online courses because there’s less to keep them on track. There’s more accountability when you have to go into class for a grade and see your professor.
When you’re on your own, you need intrinsic motivation to get started. When the rest of the world is calling for you, it can be difficult to do so. Truly, why would you want to listen to a 2-hour lecture when you could rewatch your favorite show again?
Thus, setting a schedule can help keep you on track. You’ll have a specific time to sit down and watch your lectures, just like a traditional course. It’ll allow you to avoid distractions while studying online. And you’ll be able to find time for the fun stuff, too. Notably, students sometimes get overwhelmed by the work that needs to be done. They’ll isolate themselves and say they’re too busy to hang out. With a schedule, they know exactly when they’ll be done and free from the coursework.
2. Get Into a Routine
Of course, a schedule means nothing until you turn it into a routine. You can put whatever you want on a calendar, but you also need to follow through. Try not to reschedule or push work back in those first few weeks. If something absolutely doesn’t work because of your children or work, then you must adjust. But, otherwise, your favorite show or a game can wait until you’ve finished studying.
After an adjustment period, you’ll find yourself gravitating toward your schoolwork instead of pushing yourself to it. You’ll recognize that it’s time to study after dinner or while your kids nap. And it’ll get easier to do the work. Indeed, a routine helps us avoid distractions while studying online, as you’ll have time to finish everything you need.
3. Use Software and Phone Apps
If your struggle isn’t getting to the computer but staying focused once you’re there, you can use special online tools. Notably, there are dozens of websites, apps, and software designed to stop distractions. You can download software that blocks notifications or even prevents you from accessing your browser. Basically, they force you to focus on the work at hand.
One specific app, SelfControl, stops you from reversing the browser block. Indeed, once you set the timer, there is no undo button. You’re blocked from looking at those distracting apps until your time is up.
Indeed, you can find distraction-stopping software and apps for any device. Namely, if you lose focus every time you need to write an essay, you may consider looking into distraction-free word processors. They cover your screen and hide buttons. Further, there is even hardware that comes only with a word processor. You couldn’t get distracted by a Google rabbit hole even if you tried. Truly, if you need to go the extra mile to avoid distractions while studying online, you should search for software that meets your needs.
4. Create a Dedicated Study Space
Building or choosing a dedicated study space can also help keep you focused. Indeed, if you’re studying away from distracting things, you’ll be less likely to be distracted. Your space should be away from things like the TV, gaming systems, and anything else that will catch your eye. If you worked from home during the peak of the pandemic, think of where you set up your office space. If you still work remotely, it may be a good idea to use that same space for your schoolwork.
Basically, your study space should be in a quiet corner of your home or apartment. If you don’t have a spare room or office to work in, think of the area that has the least distractions. Is it in your bedroom or maybe in the kitchen? You can turn that space into your study area by investing in a table and chair.
If you’re low on space, you may consider a table that can fold up and be put away when you’re done. Notably, not all of us have the privilege of having a large enough living area to do so. Many live in studio apartments, have roommates, or have kids. In those cases, your study area may have a limited time frame or a guaranteed distraction. Regardless, it’s still good to set up a dedicated study area.
Truly, getting into the routine of going to the same space for schoolwork helps remind your brain it’s time to work. If you’re trying to work in the same place where you play video games or sleep, you may find yourself doing that instead.
5. Silence is Golden
Loud and constant noises negatively impact our focus. Notably, a loud workspace is one of the most reported distractions while studying online. If you live with other people and they’re laughing or playing loud music or watching TV, you’ll probably struggle to do your homework. You may be focused on what’s going on with them or want to join in on the fun. And you may leave your coursework for later or rush through it. Thus, it’s important to find a quiet study space.
If possible, you should try to schedule your class time when the house is quietest. Maybe when the kids go to school or your partner or roommates go to work. You should also let any other housemates know when you need quiet hours. Additionally, you can ask your children to play quietly for an hour or so if they are old enough to understand.
Of course, as we mentioned, not all of us can get away from the noise. When your study space options are limited, you still have options. Many students report that playing music in the background helps them focus. Also, some swear by noise-canceling headphones. While music and headphones won’t block all the noise out, it may be enough for you to wrap up your essay or studying. And that’s still not enough, you might consider trying your local library to get away from it all.
6. Break Work Into Smaller Chunks
If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, the problem might not be your environment, but the work you’ve given yourself. You may be getting distracted because your brain simply needs a break. Some classes are more difficult than others and midterm and final assignments will likely take a lot of time to complete. But you don’t need to complete everything at once. So, if your study methods aren’t working, break the work into smaller chunks.
Instead of forcing yourself to take on an 8-page essay in one sitting, break it into smaller chunks. Do your research, your outline, and find quotes you want to need in 1 or 2 sessions. In the next, start writing until you’re not sure what should come next and take a break. And don’t delete your work if you’re feeling frustrated. It may make more sense after you’ve gotten time to clear your head and relax.
Majorly, this type of plan helps you avoid distractions while studying online as we weren’t meant to work endlessly without breaks. Most people cannot create quality content for hours on end. Trying to cram for an exam or write a quality essay in one night rarely works. Notably, the most effective study methods involve short sessions.
7. Minimize Reasons to Get Up
Truly, sometimes the distraction doesn’t come from a baby or our phone, but from inside ourselves. Instead of working, we’ll get up to get a snack, replace our water bottle, change the AC, and more. And while we tell ourselves we’re just getting chips and coming back, many of us wind up getting distracted by things around our house. You get the snack, realize the grease will get on the keyboard, and decide to take a break instead. Three hours later, you’re still watching your favorite show, the chips are gone, and your work still isn’t done.
Thus, to minimize distractions while studying online, you should gather what you may need before you get started. Bring drinks and a snack to your study space, go to the bathroom before you get started, take the dog out, whatever you may need to do. Then, you’ll have what you need to succeed in your class.
8. Engage in Self-Care
Finally, a great way to avoid distractions while studying online is to make sure you’re taking care of yourself. Many online students choose virtual programs because they have a family, responsibilities, or a job. Their free time is limited, and they may try to burn the candle at both ends to get everything done. Additionally, some students choose to study online as they struggle with health issues. In that case, their study times may be limited to when they’re not in a bad flare-up. Others simply find themselves overwhelmed and burnt out by coursework.
Indeed, student mental health has been a hot topic for several years. Many report feeling depression, anxiety, and high levels of stress during their academic career. These statistics do not change for traditional versus online students. Thus, it’s important to make sure you’re taking care of yourself.
Self-care looks different for everyone. Some take care of themselves by going out and partying while others need a night in with a book, a bath, and some ice cream. Similarly, some may like to work out and some just need a good night’s sleep. Regardless of what self-care looks like for you, you need to make time for it each week. In fact, your schedule should ensure you have time for it. And if you need extra, you should consider emailing your professor for an extension.
In addition, don’t forget to reward yourself. Traditional students get the opportunity to stop for coffee or their favorite food, see their friends, and more just on their way to or from school. Online students generally stay in their homes. So, make sure you plan a reward once you finish that big essay or exam. Even if you didn’t score your best, you tried your best, and that’s worth a treat.
Lakewood University is an accredited online school that offers a variety of degree and certificate programs. We have rolling enrollments and asynchronous courses. In other words, you don’t have to worry about missing a lecture or running late to class. If you plan on enrolling in college while working, Lakewood University offers the flexibility you need to earn your degree.
Don’t hesitate – reach out to our admissions department today to learn more!