Distractors – don’t let them get you!

So far I’ve managed to study a bit of Russian and Breton every day and have realised that one important thing I need to do when studying is to minimise distractions. I’ve tried to study languages using online courses, and with using audio on my computer, and find it very difficult not to get distracted. Usually it starts with looking up a word or phrase in an online dictionary or translator, then I might have a quick look at Facebook or my email, and before I know it these, or related things have taken over. I know I could use programs to block them, or simply turn off my internet connection, but I find this just frustrates me. So the best way for me to study seems to be with books and CDs, well away from computers and other distractors.

Do you try to minimise distractions when studying? If so, how do you do this?

This entry was posted in Language, Language learning.

5 Responses to Distractors – don’t let them get you!

  1. Andrew says:

    I use and love the Pomodoro technique: very simply use some sort of timer (I use 3-2-1 on my Mac) and do 25-minute sessions with 5 minute breaks and then every 4 sessions you get a longer break (I do 20 minutes). Very simple and extraordinarily effective at getting you to focus because you know you’re on the clock and you don’t have that long to go, a break is always just around the corner. For my breaks I sit down and read some Sherlock Holmes 🙂 (I read them before when I was much younger, I’m getting back into them and am most of the way through The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, which is the first one, right now).


  2. Enrico says:

    I don’t usually actively try to minimize distractions… I do get distracted sometimes, but I usually have no problem with keeping to the task at hand.
    That being said, I do take the utmost care in assuring that what I do is fun. That way, I don’t really need to avoid distractions, because I’m enjoying myself! And when you’re having fun, you certainly don’t get distracted. =)
    My idea of fun is quite simple, though… I don’t do particularly weird things. I just learn by reading books I enjoy, or watching movies I like, and stuff like that. I usually use books/movies/whatever that I’ve already read/seen/heard in a known language and found entertaining. I only graduate to “new stuff” when I already have some confidence with the language.

  3. bulbul says:

    I absolutely agree with Enrico – if you can be distracted, ur doin’ it wrong, as the meme goes.

  4. Juan Shimmin says:

    My preferred method for self-study is pure audio, so I go for long walks (or do simple housework) while listening to a course. I’m really bad if I’m on a computer – I’m used to a job where I switch constantly between tasks, and find it almost impossible to focus on relatively passive things for any length of time when there’s something nearby to fidget with. So having physical jobs to do isn’t a problem and keeps my hands occupied, but anything that might divert my attention makes things difficult.

    Also, if I’m at home I rarely have long blocks of free time for study, so there’s a lot of awareness of other things I should be doing and I tend to give in after a short time. Whereas if I’m travelling or exercising there isn’t that pressure.

  5. This might work for you – as you study, make a list of things that you want to look up (since that is usually what prompts the distractions). After so many pages or so many minutes, like 2 pages or 10 minutes, then allow yourself up to 10 minutes to distract yourself. Do things like e-mail and Facebook first, since that is probably what you want to distract yourself the most and the least relative to your studies. Then check look up the words.

    If you feel like you want to be on Facebook, etc., longer, then maybe even resort to keeping a tally of your time. Nothing big. Just a way, really, of rewarding yourself for being on LESS. Then when the time comes that you want to be at a site longer, then you have minute points to spend there. But again, don’t do this every time. It’s something extra. The bigger goal here is to ALLOW yourself the distraction, but to do it in a way that you’re still getting your studying done. The key is balance and to be able to be free without feeling guilty while you’re checking your e-mail, etc. 🙂

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