Removing Digital Distractions To Help You Focus: Little Johnny’s Blocking Tips!

So all your class projects and assignments are coming up, you’re ripping your hair out trying to manage them all, and not to mention finals are nearing closer… if it wasn’t enough that managing all these effectively is hard enough as it is, we’re now more distracted than ever, social media, features like ‘push’ notifications (which constantly deliver you the latest updates), and not to mention our increased use of tablets and smartphones.

So how do you remove these distractions, in times of crisis? (like me right now – who is tasked with successfully  completing four finals, five research projects across five course, three oral presentations, and keeping my sanity together all over the next three weeks).

I am not going to lie, I sometimes have the attention span of a goldfish. I find it difficult to multitask, and when I’m overwhelmed with ‘school’ work, I tend to lean towards ‘comfort’ items – entertainment and gossip on social media, music update websites, and basically anything but text book studies and report writing.

Over my many years of studying, I have been trialling different methods to help me stay focussed and to remove distractions, and I have developed a couple of (somewhat extreme) techniques to help me reduce the likelihood I will procrastinate, and increase the likelihood that I will stay focussed and study when I should be.

So without further ado….

Little Johnny’s Guide on How to Block Yourself from Distracting Websites and Social Apps Like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat – and Stay Off for As Long As Needed!

 

Stage 1 - Blocking the distracting websites.

Living in the Digital Age, we are pretty much reliant on computers and technology to complete our work, research and study both in time, and at high level of quality. The problem is that the world wide web also offers many distractions. We all have those ‘comfort’ sites that we tend to go and read or browse (based on our interests), when feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Mine tend to be music-related websites, Australian news websites, Wikipedia, and YouTube.

I have recently discovered a tool (for Mac- but there are alternatives for other operating systems) to block these websites completely from all your computer web browsers, for the amount of time you desire. SelfControl lets you block your own access to distracting websites, your mail servers, or anything else on the Internet.

Just set a period of time to block for, add all the ‘distracting’ sites to your blacklist, and click “Start”. Until that timer expires, you will be unable to access those sites – even if you restart your computer or delete the application. When you go to access them, an error message appears.

Brilliant.

But what about your smartphone and tablet? How do you stop the notifications from all your social media apps – Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter? Just log out? If you’re like me, you’re probably going to just log back in out of curiosity- even though you know you probably shouldn’t.

So how do you prevent yourself from being able to access these accounts? The Answer is this (somewhat) extreme technique I’ve been forced to develop in times of crisis.

Stage 2 – Using a completely random password to keep yourself blocked out.

(Disclaimer: The following method is only necessary if you have a serious problem and cannot help yourself from accessing your social media or other membership based sites).

 

Step 1- On a piece of paper, write a completely random sequence of numbers and letters. Throw in some symbols and upper/lowercase letters for good measure, and make it about 15 characters long. It HAS to be random, and extremely difficult to remember. Ensure it has been written clearly, so you can read it later. Eg: W$A7rk&u@bjQ5

 

Put paper aside.

 

Step 2- Go to your password settings for each of the distracting site/s, and using the EXACT sequence of letters and numbers you wrote on paper, carefully change your password. Take your time to ensure it matches the paper- you don’t want to screw this up.

 

Step 3- Now that your password has been changed, log out of the site on your desktop and all devices.

 

Step 4- Take the piece of paper, fold it up, and put it in a hidden/secure location. It should be away from sight, and in another room. I recommend putting it in your room where no one will find it (such as in your draw).

 

Step 5- Leave your house completely, and find another location to go and study. Eg: the library. Whilst you’re away, you’ll be limited from accessing the distracting websites, and you’ll be powerless to access your social media apps – even if you really want to. You can now do your work without distraction. If you feel the urge to try log on, you won’t be able to – which hopefully serves as a little reminder as to what you should be doing!

Although these options might be considered ‘extreme’ – they might be necessary at certain periods. Once you’re done with your studies for the day, you can go back home, look at the paper and re-access your accounts. Let’s be honest- you’re not going to miss much, and can catch up on everything all at once, rather than periodically throughout the day.

What are your thoughts? Does anyone else have any tips to help them study without getting distracted from social media and other sites?

 

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