When you’re trying to work, you’re sure to be distracted by various things — people, cell phones, loud music, Facebook, etc. While it’s easy to turn off your cell phone or put on some noise-canceling headphones, not all distractions can be so easily ignored.

Roommate having a giggly snuggle sesh across the room? Is a fellow studier pacing around you in the library? Follow these tips to work around distractions and get things done!

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Break It Up

Science tells us that the brain can only focus on the same task for about 45 minutes. If you want to be at your most productive, focus on one thing for 45 minutes, take a 5-minute break, and then go back to it or switch gears to something entirely different.

The break should clear your mind and the new topic should attract your attention, making it easier to ignore distractions.

Make a List

If you’ve got a hundred different tasks flying around your brain and cluttering up your workspace, it’s no wonder you’re so distracted! Try to organize your to-dos into a quick list so you can get the pleasure of crossing things off as you complete them.

Give Yourself Goals

Break your list into manageable sections. Take a page from a marathoner’s book: it’s hard to focus on your run when all you see is 26.2 miles, but 3 miles is much more manageable. Only look at part of your to-do list at a time, and say you will get X things done in the next 45 minutes. Or break up your reading into smaller segments.

Turn Commotions to White Noise

If you can train yourself to pay attention to the task at hand – using mindfulness or focus – you can turn the surrounding noisy distractions into nothing more than a coffee-shop-esque buzz. White noise can be useful to your focus, and blending individual noises and conversations together can limit their ability to distract you.

Try to tune everyone out. This gets easier with time and practice. If everyone else is loud, go ahead and play some music and put some earplugs in!

Put the Blinders Up – Block Your Peripheral Vision

Beethoven isn’t exactly helping with the visual distractions, so it’s time to put the blinders up. If this means you have to read with your hoodie up, then so be it. Many college libraries have cubicles you can use, so just head over there and block everything else out.

If you can’t do that, toss your backpack on the table behind your work and try to keep your eyes on your assignment, never glancing higher than the height of your backpack.

Write It Down

Some of us are distracted more by the thoughts in our heads than the noises in our surroundings. If this is the case, whip out a little notebook and take notes on the things that concern you.

If you write a little list to revisit later, you can put your thoughts and ideas on paper and get them out of your head. Once you’ve put pen to paper, it should be easier to focus on the task at hand.

Imagine Fear

Okay, this might not work for everyone, and it’s definitely a little silly, but it has worked for me on occasion. Imagine that whatever is distracting you – the beeping fax machine or the chatty girls – is actually something dangerous.

If this item notices you looking at it/them, or sees your pen stop moving and your pages stop turning, it will attack you or vaporize your family! I know, far-fetched, but it’s only stupid if it doesn’t work, right?

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Image: Marvin Kuo