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avoid distractions while studying

How To Avoid Distractions While Studying

Whether you are in law school or studying for the bar exam, there is no question that our society is full of distractions that pull us away from the mundane task of studying.  In this post, we discuss how to avoid distractions while studying and creative strategies for avoiding distractions while you are studying!

How To Avoid Distractions While Studying

Distraction #1: Cell phones

In Carpenter v. United States, the United States Supreme Court described cell phones as “almost a ‘feature of human anatomy.’”  It is no surprise that we are extremely attached to our cell phones. And, while they can offer many conveniences, they can also be very distracting. Text messages, news alerts, email, social media updates, games, the list of ways cell phones are distracting goes on and on.  Removing this distraction while studying can help increase your productivity greatly!

When you sit down to study for an extended period of time, consider leaving your cell phone in another room.  Or turning your cell phone off. If that still proves too distracting and you find yourself turning it back on after 5 minutes to quickly check for updates, consider a timed lockbox. You can place your cell phone inside the box and set a timer for however long you need to work.  You cannot open the box under any circumstances until the timer expires. The good news about the timer is that it also allows you to see how long you have been actively working!

Distraction #2: Social media

If you sit in the back of a law school classroom where everyone is on their laptops “taking notes,” there is a good chance that you will notice a lot of people on social media or other non-academic websites. While some may justify the distraction by saying that it is just open in the background, it is undisputed that while those distractions are open, you are not giving the lecture your full attention.

There are lots of ways to measure screen time and the amount of time that you spend on various websites. Perhaps awareness of exactly how much time you spend on social media will help you realize what a distraction it really is and help you curb this distraction. Other productivity apps and products can take it a step further and actually block your use of such websites during certain times. Another measure that some students like to take during law school is to delete social media altogether.  That way, there is no temptation. This has an added bonus of not getting sucked into bouts of panic that your classmates will inevitably discuss over social media at various points throughout the semester.

Distraction #3: Friends and family

It can be extremely difficult to cancel and turn down social events offered by friends and family members when you feel like you have to study.  Friends and family members who did not attend law school or some equally time-consuming program often don’t understand the sheer volume of work required and may encourage you to “just take a short break!” Let your friends and family members know that you have to stay focused and have a lot of work to do. They can even help hold you accountable and refuse to do things with you until you have finished all the work you need to complete!

This does not mean, however, that you should lock yourself in a room and not speak to anyone for three years. You can certainly go out and enjoy social activities, but be mindful of how you are spending your time. If you go out on a Friday night for drinks and end up with a hangover that keeps you in bed all weekend, you are significantly cutting into your productivity. If, on the other hand, you go out for one drink on Friday night and still have time to get plenty of work done over the weekend, going out with friends is probably a good idea as it will give your mind a break and let you blow off some steam.

Distraction #4: Other activities

Studying probably doesn’t rank very high on most people’s lists of fun things to do. Chances are, there is something more enticing that you would rather do. Binge-watching a show on Netflix, going shopping, even cleaning might seem more enticing than studying. If you find yourself being drawn away from studying in favor of some of these other activities, consider removing yourself from the distractions and going somewhere where you can focus.

Going to the library or a coffee shop and forcing yourself to stay there until a particular task is complete is a great way to eliminate distractions. That pile of laundry will be waiting for you when you get home. You can (and should!) set aside time each week to complete non-studying tasks. Designate a certain time to clean the house. Set aside an hour each night before bed to watch your favorite television show.  Buy yourself something online instead of spending hours at the mall shopping.  While you don’t have to remove the distractions completely from your life while you are studying, prioritizing and cutting back can drastically increase your efficiency!

One Comment


    I graduated from law school in 2005 and am never expected to move to a new State. I did, and I’m now facing an unexpected Bar exam in October. I can say from experience that this is an awesome web site! Pay attention to the valuable, effective, helpful tips and you will do just fine. S. Miller, Oregon

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