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Updated: July 21, 2013 12:26 IST

Tackling distraction

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Balancing act: With smartphones readily available, students have to find a way to keep distractions at bay. Photo: V.V. Krishnan
The Hindu
Balancing act: With smartphones readily available, students have to find a way to keep distractions at bay. Photo: V.V. Krishnan

Phone in silent mode, laptop switched off, parents hovering around… there are many strategies that students adopt to study hard.

Perceptions and approaches to education have changed in comparison to the smart-phone free world 10 years ago. With phones, laptops and entertainment of various sorts permeating the sphere of necessity and ruling social life, study and work ethics have undergone a radical makeover. An unending array of movies, sitcoms and social networking sites are at our fingertips today.

The Hindu Education Plus spoke to students who cope with these distractions on an hourly basis and manage to find their way back from the vast virtual world by anchoring themselves in reality so as to not compromise on their studies. Students manage to balance these distractions with their busy academic schedule in their own ways, but they all seem to agree unanimously on the mobile phone as being the most distracting element.

Aditi Chandrasekhar, third year BDS (Dental), Manipal College of Dental Sciences, Manipal

It is just a matter of time management. Taking a break by messaging a friend or going online is alright, as along as you don't get caught up in it. Studying for a few hours and switching on the laptop while eating is one way of going about it. But the challenge is quite hard given almost everyone has a smart phone these days. Planning out your day is the first step to avoid drowning in your phone and also to make sure that you study. Sticking to the plan is the next step, and that does require some self-control.

Keeping your phone switched off or on silent mode during exams is another way to avoid getting distracted. Finally, seriousness towards studies and knowing your responsibilities and limits are what help keep you on track.

Leila Srinivasan, first year B.Arch, R.V. College, Bangalore

My exams are going on right now and my phone is my biggest distraction. I do watch TV and read (novels) during exams but when I'm studying, I keep my phone in my closet where I can't see it or hear it. I also keep my door and laptop tightly shut.

During my board exams I was very worried about these distractions and I discontinued my TV subscription and Internet on my phone. In addition I made my parents pack up all my books. Right now I'm doing architecture and a lot of my studying is on the Web. I digress, but usually manage to make it related to architecture, if not my exam. I take short breaks which helps, unless of course it extends into a TV break.

Neha Jain, first year MBBS, Jagadguru Jayadeva Murugharajendra Medical College, Davangere

In my opinion, the key is to maintain a clear demarcation between the fun, virtual world of Facebook, Whatsapp, so on and so forth, and the somewhat frustrating real world of academics. I manage this by giving myself an incentive — accessing Facebook after finishing a particular chapter or section. This serves as a break of sorts from a tedious study schedule. I plug in my earphones, go online and catch up with a few friends, watch a video or two, allowing for a little relaxation, so that in the next round of studying, I can sit down with a clear and fresh mind. Keeping the phone on silent mode sometimes doesn’t hurt either.

Huzaifa Shabbir, first year B.E., Bangalore Institute of Technology, Bangalore

If my efforts to concentrate fail, I take the traditional route and ask my parents to monitor me. It's simple — I ask them to be strict with me. I also use another method of motivating myself to not get driven away by distractions. I try to look at the situation from the perspective of how the time spent will affect me in the future.

More often than not, I see that putting the same amount of time into doing something worthwhile can be much more productive than whiling it away. Of course, I do not compromise on playing football, video games or watching my favourite shows. But when I sit down to study I make sure I concentrate.

Tarun Surya, third year B.A. Journalism, Christ University, Bangalore

Focus is a key ingredient in whatever we do today, be it work or play. I’ve learnt to shut out most distractions when I need to study and keep the phone out of reach so that I can concentrate on what I’m doing. Everything has its place in terms of the routine people follow, as long as you can keep track of how much time you spend on any of these ‘distractions’ and curb it when it becomes an indulgence. You academics need not suffer at all. I discontinued my TV subscription and internet on my phone. A lot of my studying is on the web. I digress, but usually manage to make it related to my subject.

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