In an earlier post, we talked about eliminating roadblocks to studying, like the lack of motivation and feeling overwhelmed by the material. For many of us, though, the problem lies in the day-to-day distractions in our study environment.

You might sit down to do some homework, but find that it’s too easy to let your mind wander to other tasks, or to pick up your phone and scroll social media while studying. Before you know it, you’ve spent an hour on TikTok or YouTube, and the homework is no closer to being finished.

In this post, we’ll offer a few tips to help you avoid getting distracted so that you can make studying a more productive—and painless—process.

#1. Establish the Right Environment

It’s hard to focus when you’re surrounded by other things in your space pulling your attention away from the task at hand. This is especially true if you share a smaller space with multiple family members.

Try to identify a space in the house that’s quiet and removed from other members of the family; a place where you can sit and study without being interrupted. You can also try grabbing your book and some note cards and exploring other spaces outside the home if necessary, like the library, a coffee shop, or a public park. If you live near the water, the beach can be a great place to study, too.

#2. Install a Blocking Extension

You often need access to the internet to study. That leads to trouble, though, as it can be easy to end up browsing the internet on unrelated topics without even realizing that you’re doing it.

One way to deal with this is to install a website blocker extension on your device. This browser extension allows you to block access to certain websites for a set amount of time. While it won’t block you from using apps, it can remove the temptation to click over to YouTube or another site through the browser on a desktop or laptop computer.

#3. Turn off the Phone

The chime of a notification on your phone can immediately pull your attention away from study material. You won’t get notifications, though, if your phone isn’t on.

Turning your phone off while studying ensures that you don’t get pulled away from your work by a sudden notification. Of course, this may not always be an option; many parents want their kids to have their phone on at all times, especially if you’re studying outside the home. The solution could be to pause notifications for a period of time.

For Android devices, you can follow Settings > Notifications > Do Not Disturb to temporarily pause all notifications. You can allow exceptions for certain important ones, though, like phone calls. For Apple, follow Settings > Do Not Disturb to do the same.

#4. Use Sound to Block Out Distractions

Still having trouble finding a quiet place to study without interruption? Headphones are always an option.

Many people listen to music while studying. Not only does this help block distractions, but it can also be relaxing and soothing, allowing you to focus better. The best options are more ambient in nature; stuff that can simply play in the background. Think lo-fi hip hop, space synths, or even just nature sounds like field recordings of rain or rivers.

#5. Create a To-Do List

So, you finally sat down to start your homework…now what? Deciding what to study can be just as distracting as a noisy environment or constant notification chimes. The solution is to make a list of topics that you need to cover before you start.

Think about the amount of time you have available, then look at the items you need to complete. Prioritize them based on due date, and think about the order in which you should tackle each assignment. Getting organized before you start working will only take about five minutes, but it can save you a lot of time in the end.

#6. Promise Yourself a Reward

It can be a lot easier to stay on topic if you know that you have something to look forward to after successfully completing your work. You can make a deal with yourself; give yourself a bribe to complete everything you need to do by promising yourself something fun afterwards. It can be watching a few episodes of your favorite show, spending some time on social media, or going out and doing something you enjoy. You should base it on whatever goal provides the best motivation for you, personally.