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This week’s question is about a certain tweak a reader was considering making on the 15 minute study session. Sure, I like tweaks. They’re essential to making it work for every individual but this one just happens to be a big no no in my mind.


Hey. I was wondering what you thought about leaving distractions on but increasing the study session length to make up for it. I love to text while studying but I know that I shouldn’t. How much more should I study if I decide to be a little bit distracted while studying.


I can’t answer that question because it brings too many variables into the problem.

When you’re designing a study routine, you can get creative in the things you allow but you need to have some way to measure the different variables from day to day. If one day of studying you just get 1 or 2 texts while another day you get 20-30 texts during the same session, you’re going to be having a dramatically different amounts of time actually invested in the studying process. That means, even if you control for all the other problems, you just can’t make a single specific time.

Of course, that’s ignoring the fact that every text you get is going to bring you back to square one with focus. Every time you lose focus during a study session it takes time to get back your focus. That’s the fundamental flaw with distractions during a study session.

Even if I could give you a rough estimate of how much time someone would require for a distracted study session, that number would depend on hundreds of individual factors that would vary from person to person. Some people are much faster at refocusing than others. (Just because you think you’re good, it doesn’t mean you are good. Confidence in this factor generally has more to do with general confidence than actual relationship to reality.)

The only good answer I could give is DRAMATICALLY more time. When you have a conversation going while studying, to even come close to the focus level undistracted study session is a difficult feat that requires military grade intellectual discipline. Not only do you have to get back to studying fast but you have to make sure your brain comes with you. (I tend to get lost thinking about the conversation while I look back at the textbook going through the motions of studying while not really studying.)

I highly recommend you give up the texting while studying.

That’s unhelpful. I get it. If I was forced to recommend a way to make this work then I would recommend this. If you choose to text while studying, text on a timer and not on your messages. Instead of texting when you get a response, text on 5 minute marks of your study session. Make sure there is a timer to remind you at the 5 minute marks and never look at the timer or clock until an alarm goes off. When it goes off you can answer any texts you’ve gotten.

Then, to make up for the distractions, don’t count texting time for your study session and increase the length of your session to 20-30 minutes. That being said, this is not a recommended strategy. This is only to be used if you’re dead set on texting and studying but are looking for a way to make it less of a handicap.

But, in all seriousness, just put down the phone. If you can’t go 15 minutes without texting someone then you probably have a problem. If you care enough about your grades to study then at least give it a few minutes of unadulterated focus. The fact that you’re hesitant to give it that little amount of focus may be a sign that something is out of whack beyond your study session beyond a simple desire to text more.

There are more distractions than just that to worry about though. If you’re looking to get focused for studying then you might want to read 7 Tricks To Getting Focused For Studying.

Do you want to know how to study in less than 15 minutes a night? Follow this blog and check out the archives to find out. Be sure to read the kindle books in the archives for the whole truth, unadulterated by mainstream cliches.

Q/A – What’s Wrong With A Partial Focus Study Session

Let me tell you (an inappropriate) true story…

It was high school Spanish class…

I was a Senior in a class of Sophomores. There was one other Senior in the class. Best of all –

She was smokin’ (as the old folk say.) She was gorgeous. 10 out of 10. Tight jeans. And she always sat right in front of me in class (gulp.)

We were the only Seniors in the class. By default… that made me the coolest guy there… And trust me… I’m never the coolest guy there.

But we’d talk. Sometimes in class she’d lean over. I’d continue to pretend me importa la espanol stuff pero… Seriousamente… 😛

Sure… I’d show up to class. But my brain rarely stuck around for the lecture. And that’s why you might not be surprised I was getting a C- in class.

It’s funny how that stuff that distracted me in highschool wasn’t so problematic in college where I took a double course load and still scored near the top of my class…

You don’t need to be perfect to score near perfect.

You just need to know how…

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5 thoughts on “Q/A – What’s Wrong With A Partial Focus Study Session

  • December 15, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    this was really useful especially for me considering the fact that I work like crazy when it comes to school.


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