How to focus on studies without getting distracted?
That’s a major concern for you, right?
You try hard to focus on your studies, but unwanted thoughts distract you, and time flies like a supersonic jet (whoosh!), and you wonder if you will ever be able to focus on your studies for long hours.
Listen: It’s natural to get distracted while studying. But, here’s the good news: You can concentrate on your studies by avoiding some common mistakes.
Let’s start with the first one.
1. Trying too Hard to Focus on Studies Without Getting Distracted
Most people think distractions are bad, and they need to fight them.
And so, that’s exactly what they do—they fight distractions. And in doing so, they get off the track. When you try too hard to focus on your studies without getting distracted, you give distractions more power.
The Life Sutra says:
What you give your attention to, expands.
Essentially, you can concentrate on your studies and not get distracted if you understand one thing:
Your attention to any subject attracts more of it. It doesn’t matter if it’s something you want or something that you want to avoid. If you’re giving it attention, you’re helping it grow.
So, the more you try to avoid distractions, the more distractions you attract.
Let me explain.
Recall the time when you first learned to ride a bicycle:
Since you didn’t have the confidence to ride on a busy road, you chose a not-so-busy one for your practice session.
And then, an interesting thing happened:
The road was wide enough, but there was a big tree on the sideways—and you were afraid of bumping into that. So, instead of focusing on enjoying the ride, you were focused on your fear. The more you got afraid, the more you focused on not getting bumped into the tree.
But you DID bump, right?
Because you were paying attention to the tree the whole time (it was logical because to avoid something, one must know what exactly he wants to avoid, right)?
But life works in mysterious ways. The very thing you want to avoid keeps coming back to you because you are paying attention to it.
You cannot avoid distractions. But you can concentrate on your studies without getting distracted. It’s a question of what it is that you’re paying attention to.
So, if you focus on distractions, they’ll grow bigger. And if you focus on your studies, your understanding will grow. But what about the distractions? They are there. What to do about them?
Acknowledge them, and then stop paying attention to them. Don’t’ even talk about them. Instead, pay attention to your studies.
See what I mean?
Instead of being anti-distractions, be pro-studies.
How to Focus on Your Studies: Acknowledge the Distractions
Distractions aren’t something new.
They’ve always been there—even when your great-great-grandfather was a little kid.
The only difference?
The way people addressed them in the past and how we handle them now.
When I was a kid, these were the names of distractions—’Comics, Gilli Danda, Kanchhe, Lattu, Cartoon shows, etc.’ And now, you call them ‘Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Whatsapp, YouTube, internet, video games, mobile games, Xbox, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and stuff like that.’
The good news?
Your great-great-grandfather survived them, I survived them, and you’ll survive them, too. Chill. You CAN concentrate on your studies continuously for long hours.
Make Peace with Distractions
Now that you’ve completed the ‘acknowledgment’ part, it’s time to make peace with the distractions.
Basically, there are two types of distractions:
- Distractions you can control
- Distractions you cannot control
Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Whatsapp, and things like that—they are under your control. You can remove them from your life at this very instant. But, you must ask yourself why you want to do that—why you want to remove these distractions from your life?
Is it because you’re really serious about your studies or because you think you’re supposed to.
Get clear on this.
And when you do, take a stand.
Stop complaining about distractions. Because you see, it’s not about the distractions; it’s about YOU.
So, how to avoid distractions and focus on your studies?
Well, if you could spend time checking Facebook posts, Instagram photos, and WhatsApp messages, you can also give your undivided attention to your studies by saving yourself from the social media madness.
I am not saying social media is evil or something, but too much of anything is really too much. Fortunately, you can come out of the “Social Media Frenzy” with these steps:
1. Inform the ‘forwarders’—the people who keep forwarding emails about the world’s craziest, sexiest, funniest, or deadliest things to you. First, ask them politely to stop sending you such emails. Then, if they don’t seem to understand even after repeated requests, take a drastic step—block them.
2. Make it clear to your friends that you’re trying to concentrate on your studies, and they should refrain from texting you unnecessarily on WhatsApp.
3. And the most radical of all—give your smartphone rest until your exams are over. Now, smartphones are useful and have their place, but studies are more important than ‘staying in touch.’ At least right now.
So, that was about the distractions you have control over. What about the ones you cannot control?
Here’s a simple technique.
Get Around the Distractions
You have control over your phone and social media.
But you have little to no control over things such as:
Sounds coming from the streets: fruit vendors, vehicles, talking, etc.
Your neighborhood: radios, TVs, loudspeakers, etc.
But you can still manage them, at least to some extent. True, you cannot stop the freezing wind from blowing, but you can surely cover your ears to keep yourself warm. The same is true for blocking noise. Here are some actionable ideas:
- Install heavy curtains, like really heavy ones, on your study room windows. Heavy curtains reduce the level of noise and unwanted sounds.
- Put small cotton balls in your ears to block out unwanted sounds. Sure, cotton cannot eliminate the noise, but it does block some.
- Try to study for long hours at night or early in the morning (when the outside sounds are minimal).
- Request a friend to give you study space if his house happens to be in a quieter neighborhood.
- Join your local library. Libraries are generally more peaceful than homes. You can concentrate better on your studies in a library than in a noisy neighborhood.
The essence is…
You cannot manipulate the outside sounds, but you can indeed control your study timings, the environment, and the place of study. With that, we’ve come to another mistake you might have been making, and that is…
Multitasking keeps your attention divided.
It never lets you focus totally on one task. And the result is below-average, mediocre performance.
Can you imagine studying maths, science, and social studies at the same time? Or replying to WhatsApp messages while learning chemistry formulas?
So, if you’re serious about focusing on your studies, then remember a simple rule: The more you do a thing in a certain way, the more you train your mind to do that thing in the exact same way. Over and over again.
When you multitask, you train your mind to divide your attention among various tasks—by not focusing totally on a specific thing. So, multitasking forces your mind to stay unfocused, and that’s the last thing you want if you’re trying to concentrate on your studies, right?
Now we know our challenge—it’s Multitasking. And the solution?
Focus on one task at a time.
3. Practising Meditation to Stay Focused on Studies
Most people believe:
Meditation is the perfect tool for clearing the mind and focusing on studies. Well, guess what? It rarely works because what’s actually needed is concentration and not meditation.
Difference Between Concentration and Meditation
When you direct your attention to one and only one subject, it’s concentration. And when you watch the distractions inside (the thoughts) within your mind, that’s meditation.
Meditation can help you experience silence and bliss. But that’s not what we’re after. Instead, we’re trying to improve our concentration to focus better on our studies.
That’s the goal.
So, stay clear of meditation because meditation is not for everyone, anyway.
4. Doing Everything in Your Head
Most of the time, we try to do everything in our heads.
We try to remember the tasks we need to complete and rarely note them down.
When it comes to studies, you must know how you’re going to spend your day. And you can do that easily by maintaining a ‘To-do’ list.
Having a list on paper gives clarity and focus. And when you know what do you need to do precisely, the unproductive and time-wasting activities vanish on their own.
5. Trying to Become ‘Jack of All Trades’
So, you want to become a cricketer, an astronaut, a model, a singer, an engineer, and a movie star?
The good news is, it’s possible. But only in your dreams. The reality is that you can make your career in one (or two fields) only. There’s no such thing as an ‘all-rounder.’ And the sooner you realize it, the better.
Let me clarify.
When I was training for voice acting, I tried mastering as many as four languages—Hindi, English, Urdu, and Sanskrit. After a year or so, I realized I was getting nowhere. Because I wasn’t focused. I was kind of ‘multitasking.’ 🙂 And so, I started focusing only on the ones critical to my success—and things improved.
Pursue only those things which are truly valuable to your studies and career.
6. Believing ‘Slow and Steady’ Always Win the Race
Quite often, we do not take advantage of technology to its fullest.
The primary purpose of technology is to give you more freedom (free time) to do the things you love.
Take full advantage of the internet. Go for the fastest Internet service you could afford. Yes, it will cost you more, but it’s justified. A high-speed internet connection lets you complete more tasks in less time, which, in turn, gives you the freedom to concentrate more on your studies.
7. Neglecting ‘Study Breaks’
The human mind is a fragile tool.
And fragile things need better care.
Studying continuously for long hours causes mental fatigue and boredom. And that can screw your concentration. The solution?
Frequent study breaks.
Take a break from studies for 15-20 minutes every two to three hours, and relax.
Here are some ideas:
- Staring into the sky (looking into the sky clears the mind like anything).
- Sipping black coffee or tea.
- Listening to a song (or how about singing your favorite one?)
- Watching a funny video on youtube (comedy really refreshes the mind).
- Going for a walk down the street.
Also, don’t plan what you’re going to do in your next break. Instead, be spontaneous because too much planning creates boredom.
Study breaks are essential for refreshing your mind and ‘processing’ the information you consumed in your last study session. Make sure to include them in your schedule.
You Can Focus on Studies for Long Hours Without Getting Distracted
Mistakes could sabotage your efforts in focusing on your studies.
Fortunately, avoiding such common mistakes is relatively easy now that you know about them. And since now you know how to focus on studies without getting distracted, it’s time for you to make a study timetable and get to work.
You’ll be amazed at how much you can achieve in your studies with a strong focus.