3 Study Hacks to Conquer Digital Distraction

Spending much of your time using devices has become so normal it’s hard to think what life was like before them.

This is pretty darn worrying as your memory, emotions, physiology, and capacity to live a rich and meaningful life is being compromised hugely and you don’t even know it.

This is not an overstatement; if anything, it’s underestimating the actually damage they’re doing to our health and lives. We’re just so distracted to see it.

Claim back your attention and use it on what’s actually important with our top three study hacks for conquering digital distraction.

1. Batch Phone Use

The light from your phone triggers your brain to go into fight or flight mode. To your brain, your phone is a portal through which an infinite number of threats could come — from emails about deadlines and tellings off from parents to news about natural disasters and no news from your crush.

The last thing you want in the morning is to dive straight into fighting for your life. So one of the best study hacks is to not use your phone as an alarm. Better yet, don’t use your phone in the morning or, for that matter, whenever you can help it.

Batch your phone use to certain periods of the day and for certain amounts of time — fifteen minutes before lunch, half an hour before dinner, etc. This way your brain knows it can relax in the times in between and it won’t be constantly on guard for potential threats.

2. Tech-free Zones

Our brains are shaped by our experiences, but when our experiences are constantly being interrupted by notifications and the latest posts on Instagram, it struggles to have any that are deep and meaningful enough to actually make an impression on it.

You might recognise that your memory isn’t what it used to be. We need emotionally-impactful experiences to form memories, and when we lack them, we can suffer with everything from poor short-term recall to profound sadness.

Make it a rule to not use your devices in certain places or during certain experiences. For instance, the library is one place you want to be able to engage deeply in your work and be able to remember things. But also events, gigs, and meeting a friend for coffee are just as important moments you want to fully be present for and keep with you.

3. Take Old School Notes

Our devices and social media sites offer us essentially bottomless and never ending streams of information at our fingertips. It’s what makes the digital world so incredible yet at the same time so destructive and addictive.

The real world, unlike the virtual world, is governed by the laws of physics and is thus limited in how much information it can hold. Grounding yourself in it by reading physical books instead of electronic, and writing down notes instead of typing them up, can thus help you stay rooted in what’s actually possible and realistic and stop you feeling overwhelmed.

The fact that the apps we use on our devices are based on their physical counterparts is no coincidence. We like limits and fixed sizes; it reminds us our time and attention are limited resources. All in all, then, the ultimate study hack to beat digital distraction is the simplest: keep your life and studies organised in old-school pen and paper, not in a bottomless inbox or ever expanding digital to-do list.

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