How to Study Distraction-Free
I have an Anthropology final tomorrow. Here’s what I’m doing, when I should be studying (other than writing this article): I’m on Twitter. I’m reading feeds in Google Reader. I’m answering email. I’m watching episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. I could keep going, actually, but it would just make me sad. But you get the idea.
When it comes down to it, every test at one point or another forces us to that point where we’ve actually got to get down to studying. If that’s half as hard as it is for you as it is for me, it’s pretty brutal. Here are a few ways I try and eliminate distractions, so I can actually study.
Get the few things you need, and nothing else (ideally, not a computer) and go outside. Out there, you’ve got nothing to distract you but nature–and that gets pretty boring after a while. I find I do my best writing, reading, and generally focusing outside, where there’s no music, TV or Internet to distract me.
Force a blackout
This one’s actually a little fun every once in a while. Force your power out–either unplug everything, or actually figure out a way to kill your power (in a lot of places, it’s frighteningly easy to get at the circuit box; then, from there, it’s just a crapshoot full of destruction in your building). Then, light a candle or rig up a flashlight-type thing, and work that way. Darkness is a spectacular focuser – if you can’t see anything other than your book, what the heck’s going to distract you?
I also like to wear wooden teeth and a white wig, and pretend I’m in the 1800′s. I’m just kidding, I don’t do that. Okay, yes I do.
Paper is much less distracting than computers, even if computers do get things done faster. If you’re studying typed notes, consider printing them out and studying them away from your computer, and from all the pop-ups and distractions that come with computers.
Write it all down
When I get distracted, it’s usually because there’s something I remember I want to do, or have to do, or really should do so my apartment doesn’t smell so bad anymore. If that happens to you, don’t do all those things right away, but write them down. Getting them out of your head can help you zen-focus on what you need to be focused on now, knowing that the rest isn’t going to get forgotten if you don’t do it right now.
Roll with it
Sometimes, distractions are good things: go with them. Spend a few minutes goofing off, get it out of your system, and then get back to work in a little while, more centered and focused than ever.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve sufficiently guilted myself into actually studying a bit for my test.
Call of Duty, anyone?