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How to manage distractions in distance education
Studying can feel overwhelming, particularly when working full-time and studying part-time because you are tired when getting home and have family waiting for your undivided attention. Sometimes you may even feel that the day needs more hours for everything.
I found the best way to overcome this is to plan my day, prioritise tasks, and schedule my assignment’s due dates. Prioritising my activities ensured that I had adequate time for my studies.
We all study differently; some students need more time, while others focus better under pressure. From my experiences as a former student, I needed to prepare well in advance for assignments rather than leaving it for the last minute and then being under pressure. Doing a little bit daily and limiting distractions was the key to my success.
Distractions came in all shapes, sizes, and sounds. My social calendar, cell phone, background noise, and house chores were just some of the things that distracted me from my studies.
My social calendar is usually very busy, and I enjoy spending every moment I can spend with my family and friends. Nothing is better for me than enjoying a braai or birthday party with my people and creating new memories. Unfortunately, I could not accept every invitation while studying, and the most difficult thing for me was to say: “Sorry, I cannot attend because I have to study”. It made me feel as if I was neglecting the people closest to my heart, even though they understood that my studies were very important to me.
My cell phone was my biggest distraction as I am used to taking it everywhere. On top of that, being a curious person, I always want to check what is happening on my home screen. For example, whenever my phone beeps, I want to check who sent me a message, and it better not be a Facebook notification because then I am in real trouble. This could turn into hours of scrolling through the latest feeds.
Background noise was another major distraction for me. For example, I would be busy studying and then hear the soundtrack of a Netflix movie or children playing. These ‘noises’ would cause me to leave my books and rather join my mother and sister for a short while to watch our all-time favourite movie. When my neighbour’s children played outside, I would greet them quickly. They would often call their mother to join in the conversation, which would regularly chat and laugh for another hour or two, leaving my books all forgotten.
House chores became a convenient distraction or, should I say excuse not to study or work on my assignment. I would negotiate with myself to just quickly do the washing, laundry, or vacuum the floor and then promise to return to my studies as soon as I am done. I have to admit that this way only a way to keep myself occupied with anything else apart from studying or doing my assignments.
If you experience the same distractions as I did, here are some helpful tips for you:
- Have a dedicated place where you can study
- Put your cell phone on silent and place it out of sight
- Communicate your study times to everyone in the household so that the noise levels are limited
- Decide how long your study session will be, and keep to it
- Plan what you want to learn with each session
- Take small study breaks in between
- Do regular exercise to help you minimise the stress
- Celebrate the small achievements every step of your studies and not just the day you graduate
I found the best way to succeed in my studies was to balance my working life and studies and still make time for my family and friends. Planning and prioritising your day helps you stay focused to complete your studies. Good Luck.
I look forward to meeting you at your graduation.
Until then, limit those distractions!
(2020, August 31). How to Stay Focused While Studying, Backed by Research.
Retrieved from Freedom: https://freedom.to/blog/how-to-stay-focused-studying/
Mick, E. (2019, March 19). Next Steps for the First Step Act. Retrieved from Chief Learning Office: https://www.chieflearningofficer.com/2019/03/19/next-steps-for-the-first-step-act/
Mitchell, A. (2015). 7 Study Distractions and How Best to Escape Them. Retrieved from 4 Tests Blog: https://blog.4tests.com/7-study-distractions-and-how-best-to-escape-them/