How to Learn Effectively in the Age of Digital Distraction

One of the inevitabilities of modern life is that we are more accessible. The days when someone had to geographically find you first when they need to contact you urgently are long gone. Now, no matter where you are in the world, they can contact you via your mobile phone number, email address, or social media accounts. These cause what we call “digital distractions.”

In so many ways, this is a wonderful advancement of technology. Why would you not want to be available for your friends and family when they need you? And wouldn’t you want to know of an impending crisis at work as soon as it starts to happen?

Unfortunately, being available to everyone 24/7 can also be a huge drain on your ability to get on with the things you have identified as being important to you, such as learning and education.

In this fast-changing world, staying on top of the latest developments in your industry, being able to adopt new skills, and learning new technology need time, and time is one resource we all struggle to find more of.

These demands for our time from our friends, colleagues, bosses, and customers eat into our precious twenty-four hours each day and take a toll on our energy levels leaving us feeling exhausted at the end of the day—not the best condition to be in when you want to learn.

So, what can you do to minimize these digital distractions and increase your focus?

Below are some tips and tricks that have worked for me and have helped me to keep up with the latest developments in education, communication, and productivity while minimizing digital distractions.

1. Learn at Your Best Time of the Day

This is the starting point for anyone who wants to embark on a study program, whether a formal college course or an online course to learn a new skill. What do I mean by ‘your best time’?

It is easy for us to say to ourselves, “tomorrow, I’m going to start learning Japanese”. We decide when we get home after work we will sit down for an hour and begin.

Unfortunately, most of us will find when we do get home at the end of the day, our willpower has diminished, and we just ‘don’t have the energy’ to start today. So, we say we will start tomorrow. And the cycle repeats.

What’s Happening?

Your willpower is letting you down. Studies have shown that our willpower has a limit and as the day goes by, we use up more and more of our willpower.

Making decisions about what to eat (and not eat for lunch) telling yourself you won’t have that extra cup of coffee in the afternoon, saying “no” to a friend who wants to have dinner tonight (you can’t because you are going to study Japanese)—all these things add up throughout the day, and they deplete your willpower.

Finally, when you do get home and the appointed hour for your Japanese study arrives, you just cannot do it. You’re ‘exhausted’, and you just want to finish watching this last episode of The Crown on Netflix. And the cycle again repeats.

To avoid this, understand the best time to do your learning is in the morning when you have the most reserves of willpower. At this time, you will find resisting all distractions much easier.

Whether you think you are a morning or a night person, the truth is your brain will always be at its best first thing in the morning. It is when you are at your most creative, most focused, and have the highest reserves of willpower.

This does not mean you must wake up at 5 AM to do your studying. What it means is if you want to get the most out of your hour of learning, the best time to do it is soon after you wake up. So, if you wake up at 8:00 AM, try and do your studying between 8:30 AM and 9:30 AM.

If you have to be at your workplace by 9:00 AM, consider using your commute time to study. You can always listen to podcasts, online courses, and the likes on your mobile phone. The key is to use the morning for the bulk of your study time.

2. Turn On “Do Not Disturb” When You Study

You knew this one was coming, didn’t you? It’s common sense. If you want to get the most out of your study time, you must reduce distractions. Full stop. And that means turning off your digital distractions.

I do my reading late at night. I like to wind down the day with thirty minutes or so of reading. I use the Kindle app on an iPad Mini and that iPad is dedicated to reading only. I have all notifications turned off, I have no social media on the device, and the only apps I have are apps associated with reading and my notes app, so I can grab quotes and ideas as I am reading.

I also use this iPad for learning. This means I can listen to an audio learning program and take notes simultaneously. Because all notifications are off, I don’t get disturbed and focus completely on what I am learning.

3. Change Your FOMO Mind

One societal issue in today’s world is FOMO—the Fear Of Missing Out—and that causes us to always feel the need to be ‘connected’. FOMO is one of the main causes of digital distractions. You must prevent this from creeping into your study time.

You can do this by checking your messages and email before you start your study period. You need to get it off your mind and not be worrying about what may be lurking inside your inbox. So, before you start, do an email and messages check. It will give you peace of mind knowing the world outside is not descending into chaos and everything will be okay for the next hour.

Note I did not say “do your email”—you only need to do a check. I know this is counter to many of the arguments about checking email and messages first thing in the morning, but the problem is if you do not do it, you will be distracted by worrying about what is in there.

Put your mind at rest and deal with it before you start. Nine times out of ten there will be no emergencies.

“The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4 PM on some idle Tuesday” –– Bas Luhrmann

You need to be at peace with the world before you start an effective study period. Worrying about what may or may not be lurking inside your inbox will not give you that peace.

4. Tell Others That You Will Not Be Available

Seriously, you can do this. You do not have to be available 24/7, and everyone can wait an hour or so for you to get back to them.

I have tested this ad nauseam and never once has anyone ever complained because it took me an hour to get back to them—including my wife! The reality is, you are not as important as you think you are. Don’t be so arrogant.

When you tell people what you are doing and that you are not available, people will respect your time. This has been tested with clients, bosses, family members, and friends. No one has ever said to me “you must be available for my messages, calls, and emails every minute of the day” And if they ever did, I would be questioning why they are in my life at all. No one should ever have that much control over your life.

Imagine you had to go to the dentist for an emergency to take care of an unbearable toothache. As you are in the dentist’s chair with the suction tube and drill in your mouth, your most important client called. Would you answer the phone? Of course not—well at least I hope you wouldn’t.

Treat your study time the same way—no calls, messages, or anything else that will detract you from your purpose of learning.

5. Turn Your “Should Do” Into a “Must Do”

We all have things we “should do” and invariably, it’s our “should-dos” that never get done—“I should exercise”, “I should lose weight”, “I should clean out my closet”, “I should call my parents,” etc.

All these “shoulds” pile up and never get done because they are not priorities. “Should-dos” have no urgency attached to them, and so they fall to the bottom of the pile of things we want to do.

If you want to free yourself from distractions so you can spend time learning, then your learning needs to become a “must do”—“I must study today”. When you change a “should” to a “must”, it becomes a priority. A “must-do” is non-negotiable—it is a red line.

The trick with this is to plan the day ahead. We all have things we need to do each day, but not all of those things are priorities. Many of them are things that we would ‘like to get done today’. Before you close out the day, give yourself a few minutes to look at your calendar and to-do list and flag one or two things you must do tomorrow.

Doing this the day before prepares your mind for the day ahead. You begin each day knowing exactly what you must do, and we are much more likely to focus our attention on those one or two items we must do. Make sure your learning is one of those you have assigned a flag to and make it happen.

A good way to do this is to use your calendar for your priorities and your to-do list for your non-priorities. When you use your calendar for these, you are allocating time for them. When you have allocated time, you reduce your excuses and they are much more likely to happen.

Key Takeaways

Remember to allocate your study time to the mornings. Your brain is at its best and you will find concentrating much easier. Second, turn off all notifications while you are in your study time. Don’t worry, the world is not going to end while you learn.

Tell your friends, colleagues, bosses, and clients that you are not available during your study time. And lastly, block time off on your calendar and make it a must, not a should.

If you have a hard time getting focused and avoiding digital distractions, remember these tips and you’ll notice improvement.

More Tips on How to Avoid Digital Distractions

The success of our day is largely dependent on the quality of our planning. Not to miss out anything in their to-dos, some people prefer to make a list of upcoming tasks in a notebook, while others have long started using digital technology solutions.

Calendar applications are some of the main tools that are worth using to organize our life and plan your time carefully.

Many people have switched to specific tools; however, there are still some who do not use calendars on a daily basis. They may find some applications uncomfortable to use, non-functional, or expensive.

In this article, we are going to check out the best calendars apps to help you stay organized.

Before You Download

As you are no doubt aware, there are all kinds of calendar apps available. Instead of you sifting through the hundreds of them, we’ve handpicked 10 of the best calendar apps you can get. On top of glowing reviews from each one, we’ve considered the following aspects when creating this list:

  • User Interface – How you navigate the app should be smooth and simple. The buttons on the app should be clear, obvious and easy to move through.
  • Synchronization – Whether it’s with other calendar apps or with other apps, syncing apps should be easy and enhance your overall experience with the app.
  • Additional features – Since there are so many options for calendars, many of these apps offer additional features. These features make the apps stand out from the other apps and provide unique experiences to you.

1. Any.do Calendar

This calendar has direct integration with Any.Do To-Do List, which gives you a unique tandem of two applications.

Apart from its extended functionality, Cal Calendar is easy to use. The creation of events is very simple and fast.

What is more, depending on the name of the event, the application automatically adds contacts and geolocation data to the entry description. You can even import your lists and entries from Any.do.

Any.do Calendar is a great option for any type of user. It is very convenient and doesn’t overcomplicate the mode of display.

Another good thing is that this tool is available for free, so you can use it without spending a dime for the software.

Download Any.do Calendar here!

2. Google Calendar

Google Calendar is the official calendar for Android devices that has been tested out by many users around the globe. If you are right now trying to get away from it, consider changing your mind.

Since this application is installed on most Android devices by default, many users think that there is nothing special in this program. They are wrong.

Google has been updating its calendar for quite a few years, and now it comes in Material Design with advanced event features, direct integration into other Google services (for example, supports reminders and Google Now), and comes with Exchange support.

The program is super easy and will not cost a dime for you. It is a good thing, right?

Download Google Calendar here.

3. Calendar

Calendar is a relatively new app. It works as a web app and for both iOS and Android devices. It is an intelligent app that learns your contacts, schedule and tasks. It also helps you schedule and arrange meetings according to your available time slots.

A good thing about Calendar is that it allows you to sync up with other calendars you use such as Apple Calendar and Google Calendar. And so you can manage all the calendars you have in one place.

Calendar also gives you analytics of your meetings, giving you a clear picture on how you can improve your time management.

Download Calendar: Meeting & Scheduling here.

4. Business Calendar

Business Calendar is geared towards people who use their calendar for work purposes and business task planning. It offers different modes with wide configuration capabilities.

The application gives a default view mode by months, and events can be marked in different colors. Display modes/ sorting can be adjusted to your needs (by month, day, year, or events).

You can also set a multi-day viewing mode to see how things look for the next few days. Scrolling up and down moves you by month, and if you check a few days, they will be shown in a more detailed form.

The day display mode offers hourly scheduling, and the schedule mode provides a detailed schedule for a single event.

Business Calendar is a great tool for planning/ scheduling cases, tasks, and events. There is a support for recurring events, which can be set up in just a few clicks.

Having purchased software, you can use it to import and export other calendars, delete, copy, or move several events at the same time.

Android Business Calendar application may seem somewhat chaotic, but it works fine and is easy to work with if you play with it for a while.

A full version of the application is available for $4.99, but you can also find a free version for the app test drive.

Download Business Calendar here.

5. aCalendar

aCalendar opens our collection of top 10 calendar applications available on the market today. With its appealing design, easy navigation, and great functionality, it is one of the most popular calendar apps in our list.

Some of extra functions include color schemes for each case type (48 colors to choose from), different types of demonstrations, different widgets, moon phases, and much more.

Taking into account it functionality, aCalendar is a reliable calendar application that has an easy-to-navigate interface with three display options. Scrolling from side to side allows you to switch between the display modes of the month, week and day.

When scrolling down and up, you are moving through the calendar at intervals in accordance with the selected display mode.

Apart from its time planning feature, aCalendar synchronizes photos from contact lists or social networks to remind you about birthdays, anniversaries, or any other special dates.

The program also supports data transfer through NFC and full-screen widgets, which eases your work with any data.

The program is available for free, but you can also get even more features if you buy the extended version of software for $4.99.

Download aCalendar here.

6. DigiCal Calendar

DigiCal Calendar is very similar to Cal Calendar in the fact that the application focuses on design more than on its functionality. However, this doesn’t mean that the application doesn’t serve the purpose.

With this calendar application, you can synchronize all your calendars and view them in different ways.

Along with the basic functions, this program comes with support for Google Calendar, Outlook, and includes some unique and interesting features. You can match keywords to the image or set up a dark theme.

The app can even show you the weather forecast for three days. There are many other features that deserve the attention of people who really like to use calendar applications.

Download DigiCal Calendar here.

7. SolCalendar

SolCalendar can be called a universal application. It claims to be an all-in-one digital solution having a basic calendar functionality combined with some other advanced features, such as weather forecast for a specific day.

The application supports Google Calendar, as well as tasks, widgets, lunar calendar and even Foursquare.

Those searching for a calendar application to cover just everything in its functionality, SolCalendar is a program to consider. There are a lot of interesting things in this application; the program does an excellent job working in “all-in-one” mode.

Test SolCalendar – the application is available for free. You can test it out without purchasing the service.

Download SolCalendar here.

8. IRL Event Social Network

One of the most unique apps on this list is the IRL Event Social Network app. As you can guess from the name, the core focus of this app is social networking. Unlike other social media platforms, you can consider this platform to function similar to Meetup.com. It’s a site where you can connect with other people within your area that share a similar interest.

IRL is that while also providing a convenient calendar for you to schedule events and plan out your day. Though due to it being a secondary focus, you’re lacking a lot of the syncing aspects that other apps have on this list. Regardless, because of this huge social feature, it’s worth considering for those who want to make more connections.

Download IRL Event Social Network here.

9. Today Calendar

Today Calendar is one of the most hip and edgy calendars in our list. The solution was one of the first ones that really embraced Material Design and remains one of the few that adhere to the neat style.

The calendar application offers bold colors, simple controls, and great functionality. This is not as heavy an application as many others; it will not eat all the memory of your device.

If you are not searching for something complicated and over-functional, Today Calendar is what you need. You can always test the application before paying for it – the program is available for free.

Download Today Calendar here.

10. Timepage

Timepage is an intuitive calendar app that will manage your time in a way that other calendar apps can’t. It offers the same sort of functions that you’d expect from other calendar apps: opportunities to record events, notifications and reminders, weather, and driving duration to a particular event. However, the app goes beyond those functionalities in two ways.

The first way is that while the app sends you notifications, it also has reminders for you for what is coming up next. That bit of extra time can allow you to prepare and make adjustments to your day if need be.

The second function – which is more important – is the heat map when you go to see the full view of your calendar. This heat map indicates what days you are most busy and other days where you are freer. This heat map provides a quick glance to determine broadly what days are good to add more events and other tasks.

Download Timepage here.

Our Verdict

Searching for the right application to manage your various calendars and plan your busy day can sometimes turn into a streak of obstacles.

Most of us need flexible applications that can be easily used to manage our tough schedule. The application should have all necessary time planning functions and be intuitive.

Stylish design and limitless compatibility also matter. It is not always easy to find such a program.

The above digital calendar solutions fall under the category “worth” of being used. They are modern, multifunctional, easy, and easy. Pick the one you like!

More Productivity Apps for Better Time Management

Add Comment