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Online Degrees

Part of Western Governors University

March 16, 2018

Online University Experience

8 great productivity hacks for studying online.

It’s estimated that the average attention span is 8 seconds. If you want to get ahead that simply isn’t going to cut it.

Luckily, there are some easy ways to sharpen your focus, particularly when you’re trying to study online. Here are eight suggestions.

Switch off all electronics.

Person standing infront of a bunch of screens

Except the ones you need. When you’re studying online you don’t need to be answering phone calls or checking email on your phone, nor should you be paying attention to the TV on in the background. Shut all these things off and focus on just the one screen.

If you still find your mind wandering and opening up that Facebook tab, consider installing a browser extension like StayFocusd to block your access to those sites.

Look the other way.

Quite literally, take your computer and put it up against the wall. That way when you are studying you won’t be catching everything happening in the background — like coworkers rifling around the office or kids running around the living room.

Seeing movement in the corner of your eye will instinctually trigger your senses and it will be a struggle to stay focused.

Eliminate background noise.

This means loud noises and talking heads, but weirdly enough silence can be an even bigger distraction.

Strap on a good pair of headphones and find a good playlist or genre that is mellow and somewhat repetitive. This will help to block out any abrupt noises that can take you out of the zone, while the rhythm can help keep you in the groove.

Be prepared for distractions.

Not all Distractions are caused by other people, they can also come from within – getting hungry, being too cold or getting uncomfortable in your chair. Prepare for all of these things beforehand. Make sure you have things like snacks and blankets and set the thermostat to your preferred temperature.

Hang a carrot on a string.

Sometimes we’ll create a distraction for ourselves because it gives us an excuse to stop studying. These little reprieves might feel like rewards in themselves, but what they are actually doing is making you far less productive. Instead, give yourself one big reward to look forward to for when you are done studying, that way you won’t be so focused on finding relief in the short term.

Remove physical clutter.

In addition to removing yourself from people, remove any other distracting items.

Make sure your desk or work area is free of things like bobble heads or untidy stacks of envelopes. These things will make it easier for you to drift out of studying, or make you focus on cleaning up rather than studying.

Turn off your clock.

When you have a clock right in front of you, you’re constantly aware of time (time limits, the second hand ticking, etc.). This makes you worry about how fast you’re studying, rather than actually getting things done.

Keep track of what gets in your way.

No matter what, you’re still bound to deal with some distractions. Keep track of what interrupts your flow and prepare to deal with that situation the next time around.

Over time, you’ll become a studying warrior, ready to fight off any distraction that comes your way.

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