“How do I study without getting distracted?” That’s a MAJOR concern for you, right?
You try hard to focus on your studies, but unwanted thoughts distract you—time flies like a supersonic jet (whoosh!)—and you wonder how can you study with full focus and no distractions.
In other words, you’re concerned (even worried) if you ever be able to stop getting distracted while studying.
Listen: It’s natural to get distracted while studying. But, here’s the good news: You can concentrate on your studies by avoiding the seven common mistakes that I’ve outlined for you in this article.
Let’s start with the first one.
1. Trying too Hard to Study Without Getting Distracted
When it comes to concentrating on their studies without any distractions, most people make this mistake:
They believe distractions are bad, and to stay focused on their studies, they need to fight them.
You see, when you fight with distractions, you give the distractions more power. And that works against you.
Let me explain.
One of the most profound things to remember in life is:
What you give your attention to, expands.
If you want to concentrate on your studies and not get distracted, then understand this…
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.
Not clear yet?
Okay, let me elaborate on this.
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 only logical. Because to avoid something, one must know what exactly they want 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 study 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 larger. And if you focus on your studies, your understanding of your subjects will grow.
How cool is that!
But what about the distractions? They are there, aren’t they? What about them? What to do about them?
Well, 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?
If you want to study without getting distracted, then instead of being anti-distractions, be pro-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 without any distractions.
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—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 be?
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.
If you can spend time checking Facebook posts, Instagram photos, and WhatsApp messages, you can also give your undivided attention to your studies by saving yourself from 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 for the time being, don’t you think?
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 and your neighborhood —fruit vendors, vehicles, people talking, 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, can’t you?
Well, the same is true for blocking unwanted 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. And it’s a BIG no if you want to focus on your studies.
Because multitasking 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.
With that, it’s time for the third mistake.
3. Practicing 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 (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 because that’s our goal.
So, stay away from meditation because meditation doesn’t work for everyone, anyway.
And now, if you’re really serious to learn how to concentrate on your studies without any distractions, then you must know about the fourth mistake and stay clear of it.
Here we go.
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. Because that can make your study schedule a lot easier. So, how do you do that?
By maintaining a ‘To-Do’ list.
Having a list on paper gives clarity and focus. And when you know what you need to do precisely on any given day, the unproductive and time-wasting activities vanish on their own.
So, maintain a To-Do list and keep ticking off the tasks as soon as you finish one.
With that, we’ve come to the fifth mistake, and that is…
5. Trying to Become “Jack of All Trades”
Let’s say you want to become a cricketer, an astronaut, a model, a singer, an engineer, and a movie star—all at the same time.
Would that be possible?
Of course! only in your dreams.
In reality, 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 my career in voiceovers, I tried mastering as many as four languages—Hindi, English, Urdu, and Sanskrit. And after a year or so of constant struggle, I realized I wasn’t getting anywhere.
Because I wasn’t focused. I was kind of ‘multitasking.’ 🙂 And so, I started focusing only on the languages which were critical to my success—and things improved.
So, what’s the lesson here?
Pursue only those things which are truly valuable to your studies.
Are you ready for the sixth one? Here we go.
6. Believing “Slow and Steady” Always Win the Race
Quite often, we do not take advantage of technology to its fullest.
You see, the primary purpose of technology is to give you more freedom (more free time) to do the things you love. And when it comes to technology, the number one thing you must take advantage of is the internet.
Don’t make the mistake of subscribing to a slow internet connection to save money. Instead, go for the fastest Internet service you can afford.
Of course, 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.
That’s a fair deal, isn’t it?
Okay, so now, it’s time for the last mistake. And it’s a big one!
7. Neglecting “Study Breaks”
The human mind is a fragile tool.
And fragile things need better care.
Yes, you need to work on yourself to study without getting distracted. But studying continuously for long hours causes mental fatigue and boredom. And that can screw your concentration. So, what’s the solution?
Frequent study breaks.
Take a break from studies for 15-20 minutes every two to three hours. A study break can help break the monotony and can also give your mood a boost. Need some ideas? Here you go:
- Staring into the sky (it sounds weird, but try it. Looking into the sky clears the mind like anything).
- Sipping black coffee or tea ( I don’t think I need to elaborate on this one, do I? :))
- 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 ( walking helps with blood circulation which can help you lift up your mood and prepare you for the next study session).
Also, don’t plan what you’re going to do in your next study break. Be spontaneous because too much planning can also cause boredom.
Study breaks are essential for refreshing your mind. And also, for ‘processing’ the information you consumed in your last session.
So, do make sure to include regular study breaks in your schedule.
Now You Know How to Study Without Getting Distracted
Mistakes could sabotage your efforts to focus 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 your 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.