We all suffer from distractions. Perhaps the most frustrating part is that we know what is distracting us. It is our phones, social media, friends peer pressuring us to get ice cream at midnight, the urge to re-watch Friends before they take it off Netflix, a social event you opted out of, then went to anyway because you are only in college once, right?
Here are some solutions that will help keep you motivated and actually complete your work so that, hopefully, you are in college only once and not longer than your bank account, or poor grades, allow.
Try out a Diffuser
You have probably heard about essential oils and their natural benefits. A diffuser is similar to a mini humidifier and is great for clearing the air and scenting a room. If certain scents help clear your mind and ease your stress, take this tip into consideration. Here’s a list of basic oils to diffuse to help you focus throughout the week:
Lavender: calms (good for sleep), makes a room smell great
Peppermint: boosts energy and increases focus (helpful to wake you up)
Lemon: clears the air and relaxes
Use the Pomodoro Studying Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a method of productivity that involves about 25 minutes of work followed by a short break. There are YouTube videos about two hours long you can “study along” with or use your own timer. This may not be for everyone, but it for sure helps me when I am struggling to get in the zone or do not know where to start on work. The technique helps jumpstart something, which sometimes is all you need. This method is also effective when you have several chapters of material to study for. It is quite difficult to review so much in one sitting, so break up the work!
Track your Sleep
A huge distraction to college students is the urge to sleep. Whether due to lack of sleep or simply that a nap sounds better than writing a paper, sleep can sneak in a steal time away from you. However, if you know why you want to sleep, you can adjust your schedule accordingly. Prioritize what you need to get done at certain times so that a nap can fit into your schedule. Plan to wake up earlier to finish homework that way you can fall asleep at a reasonable time the next night. Something that works for me is using my smartwatch to track my sleep; I highly recommend this if you have one. The Sleep Cycle app also does a great job and is an easy download to your smartphone. What sleep tracking does for you is lets you know why you feel tired. If you lacked quality sleep last night, a thirty minute nap may be beneficial to your productivity. If you slept well last night, maybe coffee would be more effective for you to get work done, rather than sneaking in an extra nap.
Space out the Coffee
Speaking of coffee, it is more or less every college student’s best friend. When you drink coffee (or any caffeine) can have a significant impact on when the stimulant kicks in. If you feel well rested in the morning, I would suggest holding off on the coffee until the afternoon to avoid a midday slump. If you start to feel tired throughout the day, think about when you need the most energy. For example, if you have class soon but need to write a paper right after, caffeine would probably be best after class when you need to focus more. Try to plan ahead like this instead of reaching for caffeine every time you feel slightly tired. Grabbing coffee could also be a time to get together with friends, rather than feeling pressured to spend time with them right before a big project is due. However, too much caffeine could have negative effects on your health such as headaches or troubling sleeping that night, both which distract you from work or rest.
Invest in Blue Light Glasses
They are cute, fun, and will save your eyes. As college students, we stare at computer screens often. Blue light glasses help to reduce the strain on your eyes and increase the amount of time you can look at a screen. If you constantly feel the need to get off the computer due to headaches, clearly not much work is being completed. A piece of advice I have is to keep these glasses on whenever doing online school work, rather than just mindlessly scrolling social media. This way, you are motivated to complete assignments when the glasses are on, and know you can relax when you take them off. Not to mention, the glasses are super trendy and can be worn in everyday life. Amazon has cheap ones, as well as more expensive brands like Warby Parker. Prescription glasses can also be made with blue light protection. Check these out if staring at screens all the time distracts you from getting your work done.
Compartmentalize your Digital Life
What is worse than pulling an all-nighter? Pulling an all-nighter when next to your Google docs tab is your Netflix tab where you have an unfinished episode of The Office sitting. If it makes sense for you, keep two accounts on your computer- one for school and one for everything else. That way when you sign into one, you are not distracted by the other. Additionally, only keep certain tabs visible when you are doing work. You can make the Netflix tab its own window and minimize it so it’s out of sight, but is accessible later.
While breaks are necessary, you want to make sure you are utilizing this time wisely. Clean up your desk in between study sessions, do your dishes, or workout. Breaks are much needed for your academic success as no one can be expected to constantly work on class material. Productive breaks help to keep an active mindset and are more conducive to studying than scrolling through Instagram. You still keep your mind and body engaged, but in other methods than studying. After these breaks, you will feel rejuvenated and ready to tackle the next assignment. By the end of the day, you will feel great about what you accomplished in multiple areas of your life.
Of course, there are several more ways to distance distractions such as putting your phone in another room or listening to study playlists, but I hope these tips will give you practical ideas to help your productivity in ways you might not have thought of before. And yes, this is also your reminder to binge watch Friends over break because it will be taken off Netflix at the end of this year.