Daily life comes with a plethora of distractions to get you to do everything except the thing you really need to do. This leads to the endemic of procrastination I see eminent in society, especially in high school. It’s just soo easy to not do the work.
You know what I’m talking about. When you get home from school, plop your bag on the floor, go to your room, and lay down on the bed. You have the best intention of getting to work “in [insert arbitrary time here]”, but you just want to check your notifications first. You say this despite the fact that you know you don’t have any pressing notifications because if you did, you probably would have responded to it within the first 5 minutes of receiving it.
Nonetheless, you convince yourself that it’s going to be beneficial to open that social media app – probably Instagram or Snapchat – and before you know it, you’re stuck down the path of tapping and scrolling endlessly…
Endlessly, that is, until you’re blissfully mindless activity is interrupted with the intrusive thought of that work you intended to start on x-minutes ago (or, in worst case, x hours ago – we’ve all been there). So, you pick another arbitrary time and continue with your scrolling and tapping. In seemingly no time, you’ve wasted away your precious work hours and resort to one of 3 options: 1. You rush and get the work done with minimal effort and it lacks quality, 2. Stay up way too late and sacrifice sleep to do the task, or 3. Continue to put it off, not doing it at all or resorting to less-than-ethical methods of doing whatever it is you have to do (cheating).
We’ve all been there, and probably experimented with all three of those options. It’s a terribly easy habit to slip into, and it can be difficult to break without the right tools.
Here are 6 tips on how to avoid spiraling down that path:
- Avoid the situation all together by getting straight to work when you get home – this is especially helpful for homework. You get home, and if you get straight to your desk/study area and pull out the materials, the battle is half over.
- Try not to start conversations, or bring conversations to a close, as work time approaches – oftentimes we get sucked in by a text, and then suddenly we are taking a Buzzfeed quiz to figure out what tropical fruit matches your personality… So, stop those conversations so you can focus. Don’t worry, your friends are not likely to die in the couple hours of focus time you want to set aside.
- Use a focus app – the two I’d recommend are Forest and Tide – they are essentially timers that prevent you from going onto other apps on your phone while the timer is running.
- Turn off your phone or put it in another room – this one might sound scary for some of us, and I understand that sometimes you need to have your phone for work, but if you’re really having trouble, it can be helpful to put a physical barrier between yourself and your distraction. At the very least, put it on silent!
- Reorganize your phone to make productive apps more accessible than unproductive apps – put Forest/Tide, Calendar, clock, and school apps on the homepage, rather than Instagram and Snapchat. You may be surprised how much less you’ll use the apps if they aren’t immediately there.
- Use social media as a reward, rather than a privilege – once you have that list checked off, by all means go for it and scroll and tap all you want. Maybe your distraction will actually turn into your motivation with this tip.
Nowadays, we have infinite obstacles between us and what we need to do. Focusing is incredibly hard, but essential to our success. Try breaking the habit of going back and forth between work and checking your phone with every buzz or ding as soon as possible. You’ll find that your work doesn’t only get done faster, but the quality is higher.
What do you do to prevent distraction?