Top Online Learning Distractions and How to Beat Them
April 12th, 2011

Online learning can be tremendously freeing – there’s no commuting, no scheduling conflicts, no distractions… well, two out of three ain’t bad.

For all of online learning’s advantages, potentially disastrous disadvantages are the distractions inherent in the online platform itself. But there are ways to beat distractions’ insidious ways of creeping into online learning. Arm yourself with these tools to make sure distractions don’t get the last word.

Distracted by Email
Not only is checking email a time drain, but it can also be an emotional drain if you start reading negative news or even details about your next online class project when you haven’t yet finished the one you’re working on. Shut down your email until you complete the task at hand. And, sometime when you’re not supposed to be studying, unsubscribe from all those emails you say you want to look at but never get around to actually reading. They clutter up your inbox and waste time when you could be dealing with more important communication for your online classes.

Distracted by Location
If you’re logging into online classes at home, set yourself up in a home office and close the door. If you don’t have a completely separate space, create a workspace in an area of your home that gets minimal traffic. You can even hang a sign that says “in class” to let your family know when you’re not to be disturbed. If the atmosphere at home is not conducive to studying or you just need to look at another four walls for a while, get a change of scenery at the local library, coffee shop, or anyplace with Wi-Fi.

Distracted by Noise
Studying online is not like learning in a classroom that’s free of outside noise and chatter. And for those like me who have a problem blocking out conversation (and words in general), getting anything accomplished online can prove especially challenging. Earplugs can be helpful, and headphones work well for playing instrumental music (remember the word issue). I use sports channels like ESPN as white noise, but that’s only because I have zero interest in sports. I also just read about ChatterBlocker, software that helps you tune out nearby conversations. That’s an app I just might have to try.

Distracted by Your Own Thoughts
Sometimes I wish I had Dumbledore’s pensieve so I could de-clutter my brain. But, since the possibility of obtaining a magical basin is slim, I make do by writing an abbreviated list of everything swimming through my mind. Your list could take the form of to-do bullets or even things that are troubling you. Once you put it all on paper, you can physically set it aside to revisit later, when you’ve completed your online classwork for the day. And you can add to the list whenever more mental distractions creep in.

Distractions in online learning are inevitable. But if you acknowledge them and devise a plan of attack, you’ll find distractions beaten and online victory won.

-Robyn Tellefsen

Robyn Tellefsen

Robyn Tellefsen is an NYC-based freelance writer and editor who specializes in career education. In addition to writing for The CollegeBound Network and Employment Network's suite of sites, she provides proofreading and copyediting services for various publishing companies. She has a bachelor's degree in communications from Wheaton College (IL).

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