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The Extreme Approach to Removing Distractions


Although students often opine about too much reading and schoolwork, the reality is they have more time than they realize. They just need to remove some of the distractions in their life.

Yet, how can you avoid the distractions? When you finally get alone, you still have your phone, iPad, and computer, which all remain connected to the world. As you read or type, emails and texts arrive. As you stop to respond to each text, you break the connection of thought. A friend sends you a funny photo of a cat. You look at it and post it on Facebook. Then you watch as friends comment on it.

There went 20 minutes.

These distractions continue to add up.

American novelist Jonathan Franzen (age 53) offers an extreme solution to eliminating distractions:

Franzen works in a rented office that he has stripped of all distractions. He uses a heavy, obsolete Dell laptop from which he has scoured any trace of hearts and solitaire, down to the level of the operating system. Because Franzen believes you can’t write serious fiction on a computer that’s connected to the Internet, he not only removed the Dell’s wireless card but also permanently blocked its Ethernet port.

While producing a novel and completing schoolwork for four classes may be different, they are both exercises that remain susceptible to being sidetracked. The Internet remains a useful tool for quick answers, but lurking there are also the distractions that will ensure you are late on your work, or you turn poor assignments.

Frazen’s approach may be extreme, but consider doing it on a smaller scale. Instead of locking yourself in an Internet-less room, go for periods with no Internet (e.g., 1-2 hours or 1 chapter in a book). Just shut off everything for an uninterrupted amount of time and watch what happens.

Students will be surprised how much time they really have to complete schoolwork if they just followed a slim downed version of Frazen’s approach.

By Scott Manning
Online Learning Tips, Student Contributor