Staying Focused: 5 Useful Pointers to Avoid Distractions while Studying or Working from Home
You’re in the living room alone, concentrating on an assignment that’s due the next day. You’re confident that you’re on track. After all, you haven’t missed any of your online classes and you’ve always kept up with previous homework.
Out of nowhere, you hear rock music blasting from the speakers in your older sister’s room which you unconsciously hum along to. And then your younger brother plops himself down on the sofa next to you and turns on the TV to stream his favourite show, and you can’t help but tune in. Then your phone rings, and it’s your best friend sending you multiple messages, so you start replying.
Then you take a pause, and the thought suddenly hits you: this assignment will make up 75 per cent of your final grade and now you feel the pressure. What you think will be a walk in a park turns into serious hard work. But you’re falling behind because you’ve allowed yourself to be distracted.
It’s a scenario we’re all familiar with. Every day, we set our goal to accomplish something, whether it’s for school or work, but we get side-tracked. Luckily, it’s something we can easily resolve by following these tips:
- Learn to prioritize.
People pride themselves on their multitasking skills so much that they include it in their resumes. One can’t expect to do multiple things at the same time and expect the best outcomes for all. Something is bound to suffer along the way. So when you have several deadlines due, prioritize those. Remember, the most important ones go on the top of the list so put the less-than-important tasks down in your to-do list.
- Schedule your time.
If you’ve made prior commitments and can’t take those back, then do your best to work around a schedule and keep to it. For example, if you’ve promised your boss that you’ll pick up a shift because your colleague is going out of town for family reasons, then find the time to do your assignments before or after your work shift. Maybe you can also squeeze some time in between your breaks to catch up. Be prepared to make sacrifices. If you normally go out with friends on Saturday night, but you feel you’ll lag behind if you go, then politely decline this time around and explain why you’re sitting this one night out.
- Be strict with your boundaries.
If your siblings have a habit of letting themselves into your room or your friends regularly drop by your place unannounced, then it’s time to put your foot down and clarify with them that you have deadlines to meet. As long as you let them know how you’d appreciate if they can hold off on their usual activities with you, they’ll understand and give you the space you need. However, if you don’t make it clear that you’re in a “Do Not Disturb” mode, then they’re most likely going to bug you.
- Turn off all electronic devices.
You may have warded off all the human distractions successfully, but sometimes it’s your own devices which are proving to be the most difficult to set aside. This is especially true if you’ve made it a habit to have your phone on hand for whatever you’re doing, or you’ve always done your homework while the TV is on. To truly avoid distractions, it’s best to put aside all the electronic devices that can cause interruptions. This is one of the most effective ways to truly stay focused.
- Give yourself ample breaks.
While you may be putting 110 per cent into your work, this doesn’t mean that you can’t take breaks. Taking a breather is important so you don’t overwhelm yourself. Use those breaks wisely though. Go for destressing exercises like stretching or a short walk in the park. Or simply practice breathing techniques. They will help!
Distractions come in many forms, but you can’t let them stand in your way when you need to complete your tasks. Follow the suggestions above and you’ll be 100 per cent focused!
Connley, Courtney. “4 ways to be productive and avoid distractions when working from home.” CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/31/4-ways-to-be-productive-and-avoid-distractions-when-working-from-home.html
Prossack, Ashira. “6 Easy Ways To Overcome Work From Home Distractions.” Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashiraprossack1/2020/04/29/overcome-work-from-home-distractions-with-these-easy-tips/?sh=1161b1614626
Shi, Diana. “8 tips to beat distractions while working from home.” Fast Company. https://www.fastcompany.com/90502236/8-tips-to-beat-distractions-while-working-from-home