Kicking out distractions – Study Tips

You’re loaded up on caffeine, textbook open and computer booted up, keen to start a day of revision. There should be just enough time for one last check of Instagram before you get going, though.

Okay, now you’re ready…but what about TikTok? And what if somebody’s finally messaged you back on whichever texting app is the most popular when you’re reading this? Oh, well, now it’s five minutes past the hour, so you may as well wait to start until ten past…or thirty past…or, actually, you should just wait until the next hour, so that gives you more time on social media to properly scroll before actually focusing.

Sound familiar?

What good is a revision timetable, a collection of all of the best revision methods and a tricked-out working-from-home setup if you’re constantly getting distracted all day long? These are the Big Three study tips that worked a trick for me at University.

Block it out with Forest

Forest is this great app that I actually recommend to the students I teach. By opening it up before revising, you can plant a virtual tree. The type of tree planted varies based on the duration of your study period, but mine tend to be bushes, since I often use the 25-minute pomodoro method that lends itself to creating smaller foliage.

How does this help you to revise? The catch is that if you open your phone and close the app, your tree will die. Sad times. Don’t let your trees die; sit down and learn instead.

Before you sound off in the comments, I can hear you already; those of you who like listening to music while you work are wondering: will this work for me?

The answer is yes! As long as you don’t mind spending a small amount for the premium version. This will let you whitelist certain apps, meaning that your tree won’t die if you move onto Spotify during your study session. And if you can’t afford that, I get it. Instead, your other option is to stick Do Not Disturb on and throw your phone out of the room.

Out of sight, out of mind.

Keep yourself out with app timers

I’ve spoken about these before, and I’m bringing them up again because I swear by them. Dig around in the settings of the apps you don’t want to spend much time on and set a timer which will kick you off if you’ve used up your allotted time.

Sure, these timers can be navigated around and you can still spend an entire afternoon on Reddit instead of reading up on what you need for your exams, but there will be a physical block that you’ll need to spend extra effort on dismissing, navigating into your settings, and extending your time for the day.

For me personally, that’s too much effort, and it’s just about enough to keep me off unnecessary apps. You could set a timer for as small as ten minutes per day if you need to, and then adjust it accordingly when you finally leave exam season.

Focus mode with iPadOS

Much as I hate the phrase, this one is a game-changer and can be used whether you’re on iPadOS or another iOS device. I’m an Android heathen when it comes to mobiles, but prefer the feel of an iPad, so I’ll be focusing on Apple’s tablet functionality.

When iPadOS15 released, it came with a host of productivity features, such as the long clamoured-for widgets, as well as the lesser wished-for Focus Mode. Focus Mode works because you can now hide certain home pages whenever you like. For me personally, I have a page of apps for working (Drive, emails, WordPress, etc.) and a page of apps for playing (Youtube, Netflix, the likes), but the personal page gets distracting when I’m working.

By applying Focus Mode, I can hide the personal page. I can still access whatever I need via the app drawer but, again, it’s that added bit of friction that makes it so much more difficult to do what I want, rather than working or revising.

How do you kick out your distractions while revising?


While you’re here, you might also like…

How OneNote BEATS Bullet Journals

Top tips for time management in teaching

18 keyboard shortcuts to make you a productivity machine

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