The worst part about writing an essay is finding the motivation to begin. Once you settle into writing and enter into the zone, you find a rhythm and the essay starts to flow naturally. But before you get to that sweet spot, everything is a distraction. Talking to friends, scrolling through Facebook or standing in front of fridge hunting for snacks all become significantly more appealing than opening a word document and writing thousands and thousands of words for hours on end.
If, like most students, your essay writing always seems to get derailed by procrastination, here are seven effective ways to deal with distractions.
1. Space And Silence
It can be incredibly difficult to focus when you feel uncomfortable in your environment. So be sure to create a private and quiet study space in your house or university accommodation, where no one will bother you.
Let your housemates or friends know that you are writing an essay to prevent them from wandering in for a chat.
Light a nice scented candle and put on a playlist of neutral songs that will help you relax. If you feel at ease, the task at hand will seem a lot more appealing.
For some reason, when we know we have an essay to write or studying to do, we always become instantly hungry or start daydreaming about snacks. To avoid those aimless strolls to the kitchen, let yourself enjoy a good meal before sitting down to tackle your essay. Or alternatively, keep some snacks by your side to feast on during breaks from writing.
3. Give Yourself Breaks
And on the subject of breaks, be sure to schedule some in. If you allow yourself time to browse through social media or reply to messages from your friends, you’ll be less likely to pick up your phone and procrastinate when you should be writing. Set timers for every 30 minutes or an hour to give yourself a well-deserved breather.
4. Put Your Phone On Silent
Our phones tend to be our biggest distraction when it comes to doing work, so make sure you put yours on silent and turn off all notifications when writing your essay. Put your phone at the other side of the room or lock it in a drawer if you have to.
As much as it may pain you to miss out on group chats or Tweets, they will still be there when you’ve finished working.
5. Start With The Hardest Tasks First
If you see your essay as this huge insurmountable task, you’ll feel much more panicked when sitting down to write. Instead, break it up into little digestible sections and start with the most difficult parts first. Once you get those out of the way, you’ll feel more motivated to complete the writing and the rest of your essay will be a breeze in comparison.
Timetables are a tricky issue. On the one hand, they can give you a great visual overview of how much time you have to complete the essay and they help you to realistically breakdown and plan all the work you need to do.
On the other hand, for some students, timetables can ironically be a complete waste of time. Many of us will spend hours completing a beautifully designed timetables with stickers and highlighters and colour coordinated sections. Then, after the first day, it falls by the wayside, never to be used again.
One way to ensure that your timetable helps you to actually manage time is to only plan a few days in advance. If you create a timetable that spans weeks or even months, you can become overwhelmed or convince yourself that you have loads of time and you can start later.
Planning for shorter periods of just a few days is much more effective and provides greater focus and direction for your work.
7. Distractions Page
If you’re the kind of person whose mind travels 1,000 miles per minute and you find it hard to switch off or concentrate, consider creating a ‘distractions’ word document on your computer.
That way, if something distracting pops into your head when you should be working, you can write it down and explore it further later; during your allocated breaks or when you’ve finished your essay.