Top 5 Study Distractions and How to Avoid Them

Top 5 Study Distractions and How to Avoid Them

You need to get work down. That book read for Lit class, chemistry homework, or studying for your Spanish exam. But everything seems to work against you, pulling your focus. You can’t seem to get any work done. What’s wrong?

I live this every single day.  I share an office with my husband. For the most part, we work at different times of day, but we’re both in the office for a few hours in the middle of the day. And it drives me up a wall.

It’s really hard for me to focus when there are other people around me. The movement, overheard conversations, and interactions he wants to have with me – I find it all super distracting.

While these study distractions may seem small at the time, they can cause big problems. Research has shown that after a single distraction, it takes almost 24 minutes to get back to your task. 24 minutes! And those interruptions negatively affect your mood and increase your stress. 

To get more work done and lower your stress, you need to limit those distractions as much as possible. Let’s dive into the top 5 study distractions and how to overcome them!

Top 5 Study Distractions and How to Avoid Them

study distractions

Your Phone

This is by far the biggest study distraction for all of us. The notifications, buzzing, and ringing will pull your focus every single time. Sometimes it’s not even the phone – it’s your own FOMO wanting to check it.

Luckily, there are some simple solutions to this problem. The ideal solution is to not have your phone with you while you are studying. If you’re at home, put it in another room.

If the phone must be with you, put it in Airplane or Do Not Disturb mode. The goal is to keep notifications from pulling your focus. Believe me – even if on “silent”, the vibrations get your attention. 

Another idea to limit distractions and lower your screentime – take off social media apps from your phone or turn off most notifications. And be sure to turn off notifications on your connected tablets and computer! 

Other People

As I mentioned above, I cannot focus when I’m around other people. I need a quiet space all to myself, where I can neither hear nor see other people.

Others NEED to have other people around to work. To each their own. It means that you need to figure out which one works for you.

Try out different configurations – empty room, 1-3 people around, bustling coffee shop – and see how well you are able to focus in each situation. Once you find your sweet spot, stick to it! 

Your Study Space

You keep sliding out of that bean bag chair. And your back is killing you. Or you’re falling asleep trying to read Shakespeare in your darkened room. You can’t find any of the supplies you need and just spent 20 minutes trying to find your calculator. 

Your space is working against you. When you can’t focus, think about what is getting in your way and make a note of it. Then make a plan to create a better study space.

Your Music

You start to read, but the next thing you know you’re belting out the Hamilton soundtrack or drumming to the latest pop hit. You have no idea what you just read. Clearly, your playlist is getting in your way.

I’m not saying don’t listen to music while you study, just be strategic about HOW you listen to music. For example, avoid music with lyrics when you read. Create a single 30-minute playlist and ONLY listen to that one.

Your brain

You have the perfect study space, your phone is across the room in DND mode, and your study playlist is ready to play. Studying here you come!


Then you remember that you have practice tomorrow afternoon, a club meeting on Thursday, and you really need to start that English paper due next week. Every time you start to work, your brain reminds you of 15 other things, over and over again.

Luckily, there is an easy solution for this, called a parking lot. Grab an empty piece of paper or notecard next to you. When one of these errant thoughts pops in, write it down. That will get it out of your head, allowing you to go back to studying. When you’re done working or on a break, go back to the list and address the items on it.

To keep your focus and stay on task, it’s time to get rid of all those distractions. Learning to control these top 5 study distractions can make your studying less stressful and more productive!

How do you limit study distractions? Let me know in the comments below!

Related Posts: 5 Powerful New Study Habits to Try, Why Rereading the Textbook is a Waste of Time, How to Stay Super Focused While Studying

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