Since we live in an era where most teachers, there are some exceptions, allow students to take notes on laptops or iPads, there are more distractions than ever. Don’t even get me started on how to find the motivation to write a paper or study for midterms when you can be on Facebook, Buzzfeed, Reddit or browsing Twitter. Social media is a wonderful thing that keeps us college kids in the loop but it is also a colossal distraction from school.
I will be the first to admit that I have stopped using electronic devices to take notes for this reason. I still zone out and doodle but at least I won’t get a disappointed look from a professor or publicly shamed for breaking a rule set on the first day. Yes it does happen. I’ve seen it. I manage to pull bring back to what they are talking about. I will also admit that when I break my rule of using my computer I don’t get any notes and usually end up on Twitter or Pinterest. So, I want to offer some advice to those entering college and even those already two or three years in who are still stumped on how to avoid this distraction.
1) Don’t use a laptop unless it’s completely necessary. Trust me on this one. Some classes you won’t use more than half a notebook for. Don’t bother bringing a laptop for those classes because all it will do is distract you. If you do get distracted, teachers are not naive about it. They know when you are not taking notes and when you are. The last thing you want is for a teacher to call you out in a huge lecture hall. I saw it happen in a science class and he was mortified.
2) Download Self-Control NOW. You might never use it or it will become your best friend. That is up to you and your study habits. Either way, this app is wonderful, necessary for all college students and FREE. It allows you to choose what sites to block and for how long. You can use it if you are taking notes on a computer, working on a final paper or just need to buckle down and study for that huge midterm in two days. There is no wrong way to use it. The only wrong thing to do is to at the very least not download it at all.
3) Find apps that make studying fun. There are a ton of apps for iPhones, computers, iPads and androids that can quiz you on topics you create. Quizlet lets you make personalized quizzes. Sky Guide tells you where stars and planets are in the sky at night. I wish I had known about this app when I was taking Astronomy. TED lets you stream TED talks, which just happen to be very interesting and can sometimes be about something you are learning! Kahn Academy is an awesome supplement to any class you are taking. It was a life saver for me in math.
4) Set aside time for social media and fun. I have found that setting goals for myself and then allowing myself a given amount of time to spend on a social media site works amazingly well. Set a timer, do whatever you have to do to make sure you get off when you said you would. If you decide to play a game set a number of rounds or levels you will play. If you decide to read a book for fun (good for you!!) decide on how many chapters you will read before going back to work. Breaks actually are very helpful when you are trying to learn material and you should never edit a paper right after you write it.
5) Avoid using an iPad in class. Take it from my experience: I have seen a few people actually taking notes on their iPad. The rest of them are playing games like Fruit Ninja, Angry Birds, 2048 or whatever the new obsession is in the app world. It not only doesn’t help you learn but it is very distracting for those around you. It’s the same deal with going on Facebook or Pinterest on a computer. Be considerate to your neighbors who want to pay attention. If you like using an iPad since it’s lighter, then use it in a way that is beneficial to yourself and your neighbors.
These are the tips that have worked for me but there are many many more! Don’t let your technology take over your studying or social time in school. Integrate it into your lifestyle at college smoothly and distraction free!