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Five Study Tips To Beat Down Distractions

The end of the year is almost upon is. Just a couple weeks remain before we can kick back and think no more of tests and group projects – but until then, it’s time to buckle down. Distractions are everywhere, your roommates are annoying you, and seemingly everything is vying for the time you should be spending with your books and notes. Here are five study tips to minimize or eliminate these distractions and make the most out of these last couple weeks.

Your Friends (Regular Friends vs. Study Friends)

We need our friends, and with stress and not a lot of free time, it’s important to hang out with the people whose company we love. But the time to get your bro on is not the day before a test or when a paper is due. Does this sound familiar? You’re studying with a group of friends in a common room/lounge and somehow, everyone starts talking to each other and swapping stories, and before you know it, everyone is getting ready to play drunk scrabble on a Tuesday night. Okay, that might not be familiar for everyone, but the point is friends are great but they can be a huge distraction.

Solution: It’s like Amanda Bynes used to say on the Judy Trudy skit: Bring in the studying study-friends (that’s the line, right?) Study friends are friends that are more tame, have more discipline than the average bestie and can give you the necessary kick in the pants you need to finish your paper comparing Japan’s postwar reconstruction to the Civil War aftermath. Because that’s an important, highly relevant topic that you should be concerned about.


Listening to music while you study (or any kind of background noise) is like putting toppings on an ice cream cone: some people can’t go without and some people want to tape their ears/eyes closed and enjoy a peaceful cone of silence. And if you’re a music fan, it’s really easy to get caught up with finding a great track to rock out to while you do your web homework. And in the process of looking for that perfect song, you get distracted and whoa, it’s already three am!

Solution: The actual song doesn’t matter to most people, only the presence of a certain type of rhythm and pitch. I personally recommend Ronald Jenkees – the guy on Youtube that made the video “Throwing Fire”, a) because that guy is crazy talented and b) that song makes you (or at least me) want to write a paper while dancing like Usher. Make a playlist of songs that are somewhat similar and loop it while you write your musicology paper. Who knows, it might inspire your genius!

You can also try out one of our many study music playlists, including:


HDTV is my favorite part of this century (that and the singing toilets in Japan, but that’s another story), but it’s also the worst thing academically that ever happened. And worst/best of all, you can get it online, and what college dorm doesn’t have good Wifi? Netflix and Hulu have students ditching the actual TV and entertaining themselves on the same device they use for studying. I once watched all of House Season 5 and ‘studied’ for a quiz – not a good combination.

Solution: The great part of TV online is that you can pause it. It’s better than Tivo if you want to stop your show at exactly the right moment when House and Cuddy start to kiss (I waited seven seasons for this and then they broke up?! Seriously?!) and actually start doing your homework. TV shows that are online will always be online, waiting for you to come back to them, but your deadlines will not. It’s really tough to wait for the new HIMYM or Bones episode to come out (especially with all your friends posting about “OMG Bones is so awesome!”), but sometimes you really just have to suck it up and do the right thing. Also, if you’re particularly weak to temptation, go study in the library or any kind of public, mandatorily silent place and DO NOT bring your headphones. If the fear of being glared at by one hundred strangers doesn’t stop you from playing your shows anyway, think of the judgmental looks you’ll get when everyone realizes you’re actually watching The Vampire Diaries.


Oh Facebook, you beautiful jewel of social networking, you champion of procrastination, you hummingbird of….I don’t know where I was going with that one, but Facebook (or whatever you use) is pretty awesome. But it’s the black hole of time: you log in ‘just for a minute’ and suddenly it’s morning, class starts in ten minutes, and you have no idea why you looked through your friend’s entire NYC photo album. How many hours have been wasted checking people’s statuses instead of doing chemistry, chatting with my friend Ryan instead of writing my Japanese speech, or frantically trying to find a good picture of this guy to show my friends (“Seriously, he’s cute, I swear. Just hold on a minute, I’m trying to find it. Okay, ignore the hair and the girlfriend, and he is HOT, amiright?”)

Solution: This is where your study friends can help. Study friends are there to study (they quickly turn into regular friends once the work is done) and they want you to be studying along with them. Get them to change your passwords, for the night, for the week, or for the rest of the semester, whatever you need (or just use StayFocused). There are so many ways to block Facebook, or any website that distract you, if you have the willpower, you can power through the lack of not knowing who just ate a sandwich and who ‘thinks the haters just need to step off i am sooooo much stronger than U!” Side note: I hate those people. Adjacent side note: I realize that a lot of people get Facebook messages and Tweets on their phone. Turn that shit off and go ham on those books!


You are the biggest obstacle to your own studying. If you can’t find the motivation to study and do your require readings and all that nonsense, nothing I can type will change that. You, your parents, or the government pay a lot of money for you to go to this school that thousands of people got rejected by, and you’re wasting the money and time you have here looking at memes or Lolcatz? Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that you should never have a good time in university. But the adage “Work hard, play hard” has never been more true than right now—plus, think how mindblowingly amazing you will feel partying or dancing or however you let loose when you are FREE and DONE (this is why grad parties are so crazy).

Solution: The only thing I can prescribe for you is sheer willpower. Work and success are directly proportional, and how much you want to work is entirely up to you. This isn’t high school anymore, kiddo. This is university and unless you live with your parents, there is no one looking out for you but you. You can get encouragement from all over campus, but the only person that is going to keep you focused is you (not counting your study friends. Aren’t those guys great?).

For sure, these aren’t the only distractions that plague us during the final weeks of school. What distracts you the most? How do you combat it?