I usually sit in the front at lectures because I find I enjoy and engage in the content more. The professor looks at me more because I am the only one sitting in the front and there are no distractions by anyone else. However, the other day in a lecture I decided to sit in the back because I had arrived late. I was immediately distracted by laptops scrolling through Facebook, people messaging each other and girls watching make-up tutorials on YouTube.
It got me thinking, how much time do we waste on these things when we should be focusing on what is in front of us? It’s been proven that if you engage fully in your work you absorb the information faster, remember it and retain information better. Yet the majority of us put deliberate distractions in front of us and wonder why we aren’t getting the results we seek.
Keep a notepad or turn off the WiFi on your laptop
I enjoy the act of physically writing notes down on paper but I recently started using OneNote on my laptop because I can type faster and keep up with what the professor is lecturing about. However, I still prefer writing in pen because I feel that I concentrate more and retain information. When using my laptop I would receive emails and notifications about topics that would distract me from my immediate focus. For my learning in lectures, I choose to have a technology free space. Find out what best suits your learning, if you enjoy using your laptop to take notes try turning off your WiFi so you don’t receive notifications during the lecture.
Create a study space
If you gave me a dollar for how many times I have sat down to study and got no work done because my space is a mess or incredibly distracting, I would be able to buy a house with it. I don’t study like this anymore, instead, I make a conscious effort to be intentional with my time, relax into an easy mindset and set up my space. You can get as creative or crazy as you want with this, so have fun.
For me, I like to first have a little clean up of my office space, turn on my salt lamp, burn a candle, make a cup of tea and get cosy before settling in to do my readings and work. I make a conscious effort to either turn off WiFi after all my readings and electronic needs are loaded up onto the page or if I need the internet to study I use the Tomato extension on chrome. This extension counts down from 25m giving you a 5m break afterwards. In that 25m it blocks all social media websites and sites of your choosing.
Put your phone away
This goes without saying but for good measure, let’s reaffirm that you MUST NOT keep your phone around you while you’re studying. Some days when I’m procrastinating hard or feel attached to my phone I ask my boyfriend to hide it until I’m done studying. Maybe you can try this with your own partner, family or housemates. I noticed a huge difference when I told my boyfriend,”I need you to hide this from me and don’t give it back until I am done with my work.”
Turn off notifications, get rid of apps you don’t need or use, or make an effort to turn your phone off at night. The more I recognise my triggers and distractions the more I move away from them. I even have an alarm clock instead of using my phone to wake me up so I don’t get distracted. Now that I’ve ‘recovered’ from my addiction my phone sits turned off downstairs from 7 pm until 8 am the next morning. Sometimes I even extend this time further and sometimes I go an entire day without turning on my phone and I cannot begin to tell you how much time I have to do other things like make a herb garden, write a journal, and get creative.
Most importantly, these tips I have shared mean more time to focus and prioritise the things you want in your life; the things we crave but we always say ‘I don’t have time.’
Studying is not about studying hard long hours, it’s about finding the time and immersing yourself in the work provided so that you remember the information. It’s about starting your assignments early so you don’t pull all-nighters. I’m the biggest procrastinator in the world, I accept this, I own it and I work around my procrastination by taking these steps and achieving great results in university, my wellbeing, happiness and my life.