February 14, 2018
In secondary school, I used to joke that I was raised by television. Every day I would come home from school, shrug my backpack to the floor, and glue the television remote to my hand until my mom dragged me by the collar to the kitchen table to do homework.
Television wasn’t the only thing distracting me, however. My phone, computer, and video games all had a way of pulling my mind away from things that were important. I struggled to find the motivation to ignore those distractions.
Over the past few years, I’ve learned and stuck by a few tips that have helped me focus and keep distractions away until I’m done with my work.
1. Put Your Phone Away
While working on coursework, it’s so easy to tell yourself that you’ll just quickly check your messages and then put your phone away. But after you open your phone, you’re drawn to the red notification flags decorating your social media apps. Twenty minutes and eleven cat videos later, you look up at your computer to realize how much time has ticked off the clock.
To stop this from happening, put your phone in another room, or even have a family member take it away until you’re done with your work. Taking breaks is still a good thing to do, however. In fact, there are a variety of workflow methods you could consider to stay motivated and focused to finish your work.
2. Put Yourself in a Good Environment
I have tried and failed to do homework at my favorite restaurant. At first it seemed like a perfect idea. Clearly, I felt, filling my belly with chili dogs was the best way to help pass the time while completing my work.
It turned out to be extremely distracting. The music in the restaurant was blasting, the customers were loud, and I couldn’t help but get a little chili sauce on my papers. Lesson learned.
I no longer try to do my homework in distracting places. I’ve found that if I’m in a quiet, non-distracting environment, my work gets done faster and more efficiently. I can focus on my task without worrying about the other distractions around me.
Put yourself in a place where you can focus on only your work.
3. Don’t Create More Things To Do
Sometimes we distract ourselves without even realizing it. Let me paint a familiar picture:
You sit down to complete your homework, and then remember that telephone call you promised your sister. You finish your conversation thirty minutes later, but then realize you have to prepare a lesson to teach two Sundays from now. Forty more minutes pass, but after all this hard work, you feel you deserve a slice of the cake waiting for you in the fridge.
This happens pretty often.
I convince myself that completing those extra activities will eliminate distractions so I can focus on my work, but the truth is, if I’m putting off my coursework to complete other tasks, I’m already being distracted.
If I’m putting off my coursework to complete other tasks, I’m already being distracted.
If you must get something done before the night is over, ask yourself if it can wait until after you finish your homework. If it can, then save it. Set a goal to finish your homework by a certain time and avoid distracting yourself with other tasks.
Identify and Eliminate Distractions
Do what you can to remove the distractions that surround you. Turn off your television, hide your phone, and close tabs on your internet browser that aren’t helping you accomplish your work. If you allow yourself to be distracted while finishing your work, not only will it take longer to complete your tasks, but chances are your work won’t be of the highest quality either.
If you set achievable goals for yourself to stay focused and eliminate distractions, you’ll be amazed with what you can accomplish.
To learn more about courses in PathwayConnect, visit byupathway.lds.org.