Learning requires full concentration from the learner to make that learning meaningful and useful. There are various types of distractions, all of which can disturb the learning process and make the learner lose track of their thinking. Learners need to identify and manage all possible distractions when learning so that their effects can be minimised.
Have something to eat before a learning session
Hunger can act as a distraction, therefore before the learning session have a good breakfast and take breaks during the day for lunch and snacks. Also, keep a bottle of water or juice nearby to avoid feelings of thirst and therefore distractions.
Ensure supply of stationary
When writing plans for an essay, writing notes from reading materials, or writing a draft of an essay on paper there is not much that is more distracting than the writing pen running out of ink and having to either stumble through a bag to find more pens or having to go to the shop to purchase more pens. Therefore ensure that there are enough pens available and keep them near the writing area. Also ensure that all other stationary required are present and nearby.
Complete other jobs first
Any important phone calls to make? Is that bill meant to be paid? Complete these tasks first before embarking on a learning session or else the phone call or the bill will be a cause of distraction and interruption to the thinking process. If these are not important or will not cause a distraction, then set a time aside to complete these other tasks.
Develop a management strategy
Develop a strategy where only one essay or other learning activity is the centre of attention during any learning session. One strategy could be to divide the learning session into chunks. Within each chunk, focus on what has been planned to be completed at a particular time, which might include reading a chapter of a book or collecting extra resources. Try not to think about any other piece of work whilst attempting to complete the planned learning activity.
Take time out for rest
Set times during each learning session for breaks for lunch, and smaller breaks. This is to allow the brain to rest and digest the information that has been taken in. This also helps to recharge the batteries so that the next chunk of learning can be more effective. Take a break also when frustration begins to build, such as if a concept cannot be understood at the current time. If feelings of fatigue or illness is present, do not attempt to study and leave the learning activities to a time when concentration is not hindered by such ailments.
Find a suitable learning environment
Find a quiet area with few or no people talking and away from mobile phones ringing and people making enough noise to cause distraction. Learners who prefer to learn in a group should either a room at the library or an area in a home suitable and large enough to accommodate the group and all learning materials. Make sure any desks being used have enough leg room and that chairs are height adjustable if appropriate and are comfortable.
Switch off mobile phones
Turn off all mobile phones and even leave the phone off the hook if necessary and if people are constantly trying to make contact. Only leave the phones on if an important phone call is expected.
There are many possible distractions that a learner shall come across, more than what has been noted here as these are just general distractions. Every learner and each learning environment is different. Learners need to identify and manage all distractions so that they can minimise the effect of all distractions and be able to learn effectively.