On Surviving Distractions

Harvard will keep you busy, but we all get too easily distracted by the likes of gmail, facebook, nytimes.com and youtube. Other times, your roommates will drag you out for an impromptu glow in the dark Frisbee session at night.

Here are some ways to minimize the impact of distractions if you really need to haul some ass.

1) Shut off the computer.

Internet is the number one distraction on campus, so shut down your laptop, print out your notes, and grab your highlighter. If you must use a computer, use one of the school’s computers in a computer lab. That way, you’ll feel more self-conscious when you’re giggling at that not safe for work youtube videos.

2) Get thee to a library.

There’s a reason why they exist. Somehow, schlepping all of your stuff to a place far away from the comfort of your bed makes you more likely to stay there and study for a longer stretch of time.

Similarly, the atmosphere of the library is generally encouraging. Likewise, seeing other people just as miserable as you studying for O-chem is also a psychological boost.

3) Drink [insert name of caffeinated drink].

This is to dissuade the nappers. But don’t turn getting that caffeinated drink into a distraction onto itself. If you do need a steady supply of liquid energy, plop yourself down in a dining hall, but remember that the dining hall atmosphere is going to be more distracting than that of the library.

4) The one-tab rule of Firefox.

If you must use Firefox, use only one tab at a time. In other words, do not have facebook on another tab and gmail on yet another. Both will be there tomorrow, and you honestly don’t need to be checking either every 10 minutes.

5) Turn off your phone.

If it’s important, they’ll leave a voice mail or text message.

6) Start early.

If you have ever been an early riser, start now. When your roommates are still asleep, you’ll have some peace and quiet to get some work done. Besides, it feels so much better to have done 2 hours of work before 10 am than doing 2 hours of work after midnight.

To better facilitate this, get a breakfast buddy.

This tip is especially good for reading/finals period (particularly if you also have morning finals!)

7) Consider switching tasks a distraction.

Distraction comes in many productive forms. Sometimes you just need to take a break from studying. Maybe your room needs to be cleaned. Maybe you need a hair cut. Taking care of those little tasks will give you that mental distraction you need.

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