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Study halls are bad enough for studying. This week’s question is about when it’s appropriate to have your phone with you while studying.

I know you always recommend not having your phone with you while you’re trying to study but I was just wondering how that transferred to other situations. I generally do my studying right in study hall. I have my phone in my pocket. I regularly get texts but based on what you’ve said I ignore the messages. Do you think this hurts my studying at all?

-Garrett

I love this question because the fact that someone is asking it makes it blatantly obvious they already know the answer from reading this blog. They just don’t know they know the answer.

Distractions are tricky. They’re distracting even when you intentionally try to avoid them being a distraction. Instead of getting distracted by your text messages, when you know looking will just distract you, you get distracted thinking about not looking at the text message. Instead of thinking about the text you got you’re thinking about what the text you got might be.

The problem isn’t your decision whether or not to let the distraction distract you. The problem is the distraction itself.

If you have your phone in your pocket while you’re studying then you’re adding a distraction for yourself. If it’s on vibrate then every time you feel it vibrate you’re going to, if only for a second, wonder who is texting or what they’re going to say. While having all notifications off is better than having it on vibrate, it’s still not perfect. For most people, the simple fact that they have a phone in their pocket will occasionally leave them curious to look at it for something. It’s sometimes completely unintentional.

I get that you want to have your phone with you while you’re in study hall. It’s virtually the norm for every student to carry a phone with them everywhere they go. That being said, the norm for most students is struggling to focus. If you’re looking for the norm then just keep doing what you’re doing. If you’re looking to improve your ability to focus, put your phone away for 20 minutes and give your studying 100% of your focus. No… not because you’re disciplined but because your brain doesn’t have to be.

Getting rid of all distractions is ideal. Even choosing to study in a place like study hall is usually a less than ideal situation. The more time you get used to studying with distractions, the less you’re able to focus 100% on your studying even when you’re free of all those distractions. Those distractions permanently push your focus into an inconsistent mess. When you’re free of those distractions you’ll find yourself stopping to think about something else in the middle of your study session. It’s better to just get used to only studying with as much focus as you can practically achieve.

I know… perfection is impossible when it comes to distractions. That being said, if you see a distraction and a practical means to reduce or eliminate that distraction (you know… like shutting your phone off and putting it in your bag for 20 minutes,) then it’s the perfect opportunity to move yourself closer to a more effective study strategy. It’s those small decisions that make a big impact on a student’s final results.

If you’re looking for more ways to get you focused during your study session then you’ve got to read 7 Tricks To Getting Focused For Studying.

Do you want to know how to study in less than 15 minutes a night? That’s what this blog is about. Be sure to check out the archives and follow to learn all the nitty gritty details. Also, check out the books in the sidebar to learn the best of it faster.

Q/A – Phones And School

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7 thoughts on “Q/A – Phones And School

  • December 27, 2015 at 5:14 pm
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    If I have my phone on me I just know I’ll be distacted. If I’m feeling extra motivated I’ll leave it upstairs while I revise downstairs. But most of the time I head to the library to revise and have to take my phone with me and since I listen to music while I revise my phone is always on me. But airplane mood is also a good solution.

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  • December 13, 2015 at 2:41 pm
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    I am a huge procrastinator, and the most distracting thing I use is my phone. It’s a very bad habit I have that I am currently trying to fix. To do so I have often took the battery out of my phone and used an old phone with no service to listen to music. This worked pretty well, also using a timer to limit yourself on the phone could help. When not home and need my phone around me just in case my mom calls, I set a timer on my phone for study time, then take a break and set a time while on my phone. You can do small amounts at first then over time add more time to stay focus and less on your phone.

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  • December 11, 2015 at 9:26 pm
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    The blog is right – efficiency is key. Growing up with a Chemical Engineer for a father, I learned continually the immense power of two simple concepts: raw discipline and efficiency.

    So, could you actually study for 15 minutes a night and retain important information? Yes. Easily. As a college student with a large amount of on-demand discipline (thanks to my dad), I pull off feats like this all the time.

    I used to tutor a pretty young kid, 7th grade or so. When we got together to learn math, I made sure we weren’t messing around… he was kind of the hyperactive, bouncing-off-the-walls type. Once I made sure all the distractions in his house weren’t available (his dogs, the TV, his cell phone, etc.), we worked with incredible speed, focus and discipline. It’s simple, really. Most of the issues students face can be solved with a large dose of hard discipline and smart studying habits.

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  • December 9, 2015 at 9:53 pm
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    I completely agree with what you say in your post! Although it can be really hard in this day and age to not keep our phones on us, it has to be a choice you make when you really need to focus on something like studying. You cannot underestimate the power that those distractions have, and how ineffective they make your studying! 45 minutes of completely focused study with no distractions whatsoever, will be inexplicably more effective than 2 hours of study with distractions like phone, background noises and people milling around you. Maximise your time by dedicating distraction-free time to studying and you’ll both absorb your material and learn better AND have more down time to do other things.

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  • December 7, 2015 at 10:08 am
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    Airplane mode. I always turn this on when I am studying, because it is indeed a distraction. Even if you try and ignore the text and email messages. The fact that you received one will stimulate your curiousity and tempts your brain to check it. Even if you’re study material is within your mobile phone, airplane mode should be turned on. This is personally proven and tested by me.

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  • December 6, 2015 at 6:37 am
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    I agree that the best thing to do is shut down the phone and put it in the bag, preferably deep not to get tempted to change the decision. If you manage to survive the first 15 – 30 minutes without a phone, you will eventually forget about it, and think only about studying.
    This method has truly helped me when I was studying at the library.

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  • November 28, 2015 at 10:23 pm
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    I do use my phone. If I thought using it would impact my degree I wouldn’t do it. But it’s a interesting post, so I might turn my phone off in my next lecture and see how it goes.

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