10 ways to beat distractions by Fizza Durrani

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Do you have a pile of work that you’re struggling to do, and you just can’t complete this; because you can’t concentrate? Do you keep procrastinating or getting distracted? It’s a basic problem, but its effects can be far from basic. Deadlines have to be met, and preparations have to be done, but sometimes, this fear, and the anxiety alone is not enough to keep you focused.

What to do? Well, we will tell you 10 ways you can beat distractions and stay focused.

Isolate yourself
Move away from the chaos. Go to your room, upstairs, in the basement, wherever it is quiet and cosy. (Not too cosy, you’ll fall asleep. But you get the idea.)  Turn off your Wi-Fi. Isolate yourself from the physical world and the virtual one. This is the first and the basic step to be focused. The lesser people and sounds around you, the lesser you will be distracted.

Clear your workspace

If your table or workspace is filled with all kinds of stuff, chances are your mind will wander and pick anything to be distracted. Yes. Even that paper clip! It’ll be fascinating to you all of a sudden. Get rid of everything that is extra.

Put your headphones on
When you have headphones on, even without music, it helps blocking out all the sounds from the outside. All the audible distractions will be cancelled out, keeping you more focused. Also, when you are working among many people, if you have headphones on, people will most likely not disturb you. It’s like a signal that you’re busy. Try it out.

Write your goals
Write down your goals for the day on a piece of paper and place it in front of you. Something like this:
-Complete chapter 1.
-Complete the English assignment.
-Revise for the test.
-When you start getting distracted, just look at the goals and realise their importance and the consequences of not completing them. It will get you back on track real quick.

Make a timetable
Include the priorities first, then everything else you have to do, how much time you need to do it, the snack breaks, the timing of the breaks, the length of the breaks- literally everything. This will give you a strict timetable and schedule to follow. If you ever get distracted to take a snack break or check something out on your social media, remind yourself that you have a break in half an hour, you can do it then.

If the anxiety of forgetting it by then keeps you distracted, write it down somewhere. Set time to check your notifications. This way you won’t be distracted by your phone repeatedly. Tell yourself that you will only check your phone at the set timing. Set alarms and timers if you keep checking the clock and get distracted. Know that the alarm will ring once it’s break time. Just. Focus. 

Break the big tasks into smaller tasks
Climbing a mountain will seem much more difficult in one path. Having checkpoints will make it look much easier because the pathway is broken down into smaller ones. Get the point? Break down a 100-page unit into 5 topics of 20. Take breaks in between. It’ll be much easier.

Take breaks
Taking breaks will keep your flow going. It will not only give your mind and body the time to rest, but also make space for more information, work, and at the same time keep your motivation and energy optimal, saving you from being mentally and physically exhausted.
Take breaks as rewards. Take optimal breaks for optimal timings. A 5-minute break after 5 hours of work is not optimal. Similarly, a 2-hour break after 1 hour of work is not optimal either. Know the healthy ratio.
Start with the 20-20 rule (i.e. study for 20 minutes and then take a 20 minute break.) Progressively, increase the working time and decrease the break time as per your liking.  

Munch around
I always like to keep snacks around and eat them while I work. This saves me from feeling hungry every half an hour, and wasting my time searching for food at the most inconvenient time. Also, it keeps my blood sugar and carbs leveled so I stay energized.

Skim and scan
While studying, or reading work documents, know what to invest the most concentration on and what to overview, this will save you from wasting a lot of energy and time on something that is not even important, when you need every bit of both.

Don’t be too hard on yourself 
Let the distractions take control once in a while. If it’s too frustrating, it’s a signal that you need to relax for a bit. Your mind needs to un-focus. Let it go. Take a break. Take a nap. Watch that video. But when you come back to work, make it count.

These are some of the tips I have used over the years when I REALLY need to stay focused, and they have all worked for me at different times. Try them out, and I’m sure they will help you too. And when they do, ace that exam and nail that assignment. Thank me later.

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