A distraction is anything that takes your mind away from your main task. Today, we have more distractions than ever before. We live in the information age where we are being constantly bombarded with emails, text messages, and noises. Even though it’s possible to get homework done while being distracted, the reality is that your work runs the risk of being lower quality and can take much longer to complete. This is part of the reason why multitasking is generally a bad idea. Also multitasking can take several minutes for you to switch tasks, since you have to refocus again. This refocusing time can be challenging if your task is highly involved, such as computer programming or studying for a hard test. So, a task such as homework that should have taken you two hours instead takes you now four hours. Bottom line, distractions affect the way you learn and impact your academic success.
Whenever you focus on something, the perception of your environment can change. Focusing increases your ability to ignore everything outside your area of attention. However, your brain has a built-in mechanism which gives it the ability to involuntary break your focus and concentrate on something else. This survival mechanism was designed so that we would redirect our focus on something that may need our immediate attention such as a fire alarm. However, it’s one thing for a fire alarm to distract you versus a trivial event such as receiving a text message. Obviously, the latter could be postponed and is not deserving of the same type of attention. Although your homework can’t be compared to a potential fire, it is very important to focus on it especially if you expect to be successful academically.
The good news is that there are ways to minimize distractions and increase your focus. But the first step is being aware of some of the types of distractions. Being aware lets you decide to participate in them or not.
So, watch out for these five distractions as you work on your homework or that important school project or prepare for that important test that needs your undivided focus. Also try a few of the tips sited below to assist you.
Noises make your concentration more difficult, because it suppresses your ability to hear your thoughts. Also it is a bigger issue for auditory learners and introverted personality types. Examples of noisy distractions are the sounds that copy machines make or just people talking. Noise can cause your focus to be redirected away from your task. It can also create stress or disrupt the psychological flow of thought when performing it. It has even been shown that irrelevant speech can reduce test performance by two-thirds.
Tip: Simply close your door and turn off all noisy equipment when completing an assignment. If you are around others, you can nicely ask them to quiet down.
What makes the internet such a distraction is fact that it’s always available. There might be a temptation to read the news, go shopping, or socialize, which can all be done via the internet. The easiest way to reduce this distraction is by disconnecting to your internet completely. This may not always be possible if your task is internet related but minimizing the number of sites or tools that you have open on your computer will reduce that distraction.
Tip: Only open the specific sites or programs that you need to go to in order to complete your homework assignment or project.
Socializing is an activity that we all like to do. However, when you have homework to complete or a project that has a deadline, it can interfere. This is not just limited to academic activities but also just doing our day to day work.
Tip: Turn off all notifications, so you aren’t aware when someone is tries to call, text, or email you. Instead, designate time period for these social tasks or think about working hours when others are not, such as early in the morning or late at night.
Watching television or listening to music can addictive because it is often pleasurable which activates what is known as dopamine in the basal ganglia of the brain known to invoke pleasure. As a result, you have a desire to maintain the high level of dopamine. When the level drops, you then search for something else to raise it back up again. This can be time consuming.
Even though many people claim that music helps them work better, it’s often not the case. First of all, music with lyrics is just as distracting as hearing someone talking. Music that does not have lyrics may be better, but you run the temptation of spending time to find the perfect song taking you away from your focused task.
Tip: Record your favorite shows. If you decide to listen to music, only listen to ones without lyrics. If you must watch a television show, put it in your schedule. Use this as a motivation to get your task done sooner.
Examples of environmental distractions are windows, office clutter, and even clocks. Would you rather do your research report in your room or be at the beach all day? Are you paying attention to your task or are you paying attention to the clock? Often how you visually see things such as clutter can be emotionally draining. It also restricts your ability to focus.
Tip: Think about cleaning and rearranging your workplace to better assist you with your assignment. Also consider spending time at another location such as a library. Finally plan a specific date and time to spend at a location that you consider desirable as a reward for completing your assignment.
Distractions will always be around us no matter what task we have to perform, academic or otherwise. However completing your homework assignment, turning that project in on time or passing that important exam may be the difference between you being successful or not with your academic studies. So being aware and knowing about what can get in the way is important. You can choose to remove those distractions. Ensure that you have nothing that is getting in the way of your academic success.
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