Studying and Scrolling: How to Focus

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Studying and Scrolling: How to Focus

Studying with Smartphones

If you’ve ever crammed for an exam or spent hours agonizing over an essay, you’ll appreciate the difficulty of staying focused. When confronted with a task requiring significant brainpower, our minds tend to wander toward any distraction in a bid to find light relief. Unfortunately, smartphones have radically increased the availability of such distractions, presenting us with an endless stream of notifications, news headlines, memes, images, social media posts, and much more.

If you’re a student or have kids in school, you may worry about how smartphones influence people’s ability to learn and absorb information. According to a recent study, smartphone addiction can hurt college students’ academic performance by lowering their capacity to study. 

However, it’s also worth acknowledging the potential for smartphones to positively impact the educational landscape, providing learners with instant access to a wealth of information and online research materials. As this study of elementary school students shows, children with access to smartphones outperform those who lack access. 

So, how can learners maintain a healthy relationship with their smartphone, ensuring it provides educational opportunities without hindering focus and productivity?

Tips for staying focused 

Almost everyone gets distracted from time to time – you’re only human! Fortunately, it’s possible to minimize distractions and achieve your academic ambitions using the following tips:

1. Hold yourself accountable

Have you ever sat down and assessed how long you’re spending on your smartphone? Buckle up – you may be in for a nasty surprise. According to recent stats, the average person spends a shocking 3 hours and 15 minutes on their phone each day, with 20% of users surpassing a daily average of 4.5 hours. With so much time dedicated to scrolling, it’s no wonder studying is so challenging. 

Holding yourself accountable and tracking your usage data is a great way to improve your work ethic. Most modern smartphones allow users to track how much time they spend on specific apps each day, and exposing yourself to such stats will motivate you to change your behavior and focus on your studies.

2. Mute notifications

You don’t need to reply to social media posts or view pictures of your best friend’s cat while you’re studying. Muting notifications during productive hours will help you stay focused and mitigate the impulse to pick up your phone every few minutes. Plus, you can treat yourself to a short social media session after you’ve completed your work for the day!

3. Place your phone in another room

Even the sight of a smartphone can make us feel anxious and distracted. Placing your phone in another room will help you. If you’re worried about receiving emergency calls, you can adjust your phone volume for selected contacts, ensuring you’re alerted if they reach out. 

4. Install screen time apps

If you’re a notorious scroller, installing an app that limits your phone usage could help curb your habits. The good news is there are heaps of apps designed to tear you away from your phone screen and block distractions. You can also install web browser extensions such as the Clearspace chrome extension if your scrolling habits extend to your laptop or PC.

5. Give yourself breaks

Give yourself a five-minute break to check your phone or better yet draw, read or take a walk every 30-40 minutes. Also known as the Pomodoro Technique, this strategy will help you stay focused while providing intermittent rewards to help you stay motivated. 

6. Embrace the beauty of offline study

While some kinds of study require online research and activities, others can take place offline. All you need is a notebook, pen, and some physical textbooks to get started. Although traditional forms of study may feel a little retro, eliminating all forms of digital distraction will clear your mind and improve your ability to absorb information. Scheduling just a few offline study sessions per week could reduce your digital dependency and enhance your focus, retention, and comprehension skills. What’s not to love?

7. Draw clear boundaries between leisure and learning

The digital revolution has blurred the lines between work and leisure, with many professionals and students checking their emails and completing pressing tasks at all hours of the day. Drawing clear boundaries between your work and recreation times will improve your relationship with your phone, ensuring you don’t overindulge in meaningless scrolling during productive hours or sacrifice your leisure time for laborious tasks.

Stop procrastinating and make the most of your study sessions

Following the steps listed above will help you avoid the pitfalls of smartphone addiction while continuing to harness the benefits of digital technologies. Whether you’re an aspiring astrophysicist or a dedicated language learner, there’s no better time than the present to reclaim your attention and reach your academic goals.

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