Cut down on digital distractions

Monday, May 11, 2020
Written by: Emily Hollingshead

You have a paper to write and at least three chapters to review, but what is a diligent student to do when all their favorite study spots have been temporarily closed? Taking online classes is an efficient way to get work done, but in a digital world that is clamoring for our attention, these tips can help Raiders stay focused and GO Far!  

1. No Netflix

While many of us feel we work better with background noise, turning on your favorite show to play in the background isn’t going to help you power through your paper. Things with compelling visuals and audio are very competitive when it comes to our attention. If you require background noise, turn off Netflix and try finding upbeat instrumental music or music sung in a foreign language you don’t speak. 

2. Prioritize phone notifications

Your phone is on silent, but it still vibrates with every text, call and Snapchat notification and ends up stealing your attention regardless. In case of an emergency, it is important for people to be able to reach you, so it is ok to keep audible notifications for texts and calls. However, you can temporarily adjust notifications in your settings to not interrupt you during work or school hours. No need to have your phone buzz for every single Instagram like.  

3. Add accountability to your day

Tell a friend or classmate what you hope to accomplish, and check in with them throughout the day to let them know how your progress is going. Studying with others, even online, helps keep your focus on task. Better yet, organize your studying by assigning different tasks to different people in your study group. This will help narrow your focus while providing the extra urgency that others depend on you.

The Academic Success Center is offering online tutoring to students. 

The Academic Success Center is offering online ZOOM tutoring for students who require extra help in their classes, while maintaining social-distancing priorities. When working with someone else, you will be more engaged and less likely to check Instagram every chance you get.

4. Organize your time

Break down your to-do list into specific time segments, and schedule the times on a visible planner, calendar or e-calendar you can reference. Whether that is a lecture or writing time, dedicating a specific time for a task allows you to block unwanted distraction and helps prevent procrastination when there is an imposed deadline. 

5. Social media shutdown

Cutting out social media cold turkey is unrealistic, especially in this time when our connections with people are so important. Put time in your schedule for short 15-minute social media breaks. This will satisfy your need to find out what is going on in the world without eating up your day. If you really struggle with limiting your social media time, check out browser extensions that forcibly limit your time or redirect your attention. Thousands have tried extensions such as Strict Workflow and Momentum, but you should always do your research to find the extensions that best suit your needs.

6. Take phone-free breaks

Besides social media breaks, it is important to give yourself an overall screen break. Taking a short walk outside, breathing fresh air or cleaning up a room are excellent ways to give yourself time to unwind and rejuvenate before returning to a task on the computer. Breaking away from the physical location of the computer between tasks will help you transition between them mentally as well and offers a break from the monotony of staring at a computer screen all day. 

7. Tidy up your screen

Finally, try to keep the information on your screen as tidy as possible. Avoid having multiple browsers or windows open as you are trying to focus. Go full-screen mode if you are watching a lecture or writing a paper to keep your mouse, eyes and attention from wandering.

About Seminole State College of Florida

Seminole State College of Florida, established in 1965, serves nearly 30,000 students across six sites in Central Florida. A comprehensive college, Seminole State has awarded more than 100,000 credentials, from bachelor's degrees to high school diplomas, and offers more than 200 degrees, certificates and programs designed for success. For more about the college, visit, like us on Facebook at and follow us on Twitter: @seminolestate.  #SSC #GoStateGoFar