The Secret to Better Study Skills for Students

For better study skills manage your distractions.

You want to get good grades in high school and college, land a killer job, and enjoy life in the process? There’s a blueprint for getting it done.

The truth about the road to higher learning is that it’s filled with distractions. Roommates, activities, clubs, coeds, parties, and classes all vie for your attention.

Throw in the fact that you may be living on your own for the first time without the structure of a home environment. School is a time management hot zone.

→ BTW: Learn the essential skills for getting good grades and having fun in school — download our FREE Student Time Management guide.

The secret to having effective study skills? Manage your distractions.

Manage your distractions and you will get more done. You will be more productive in your reading, studying and projects. Furthermore, you’ll have more time to experience all the fun that school has to offer (the aforementioned activities, clubs, and coeds).

Use the following guidelines for managing school distractions:

Create your environment

Having a distraction-free workspace is vital to your success. Reduce noise as much as possible, but remember that too quiet is uncomfortable as well. Try creating “white noise” with some low level music. Also, eliminate your visual distractions by closing window shades and moving attention-stealing objects from your immediate line of sight.

Close the door

Shut out your distractions both literally and figuratively. Keeping your door closed will discourage casual passers-by from dropping in, but it’s not 100 percent effective. You must also make a mental commitment to say no to any drop-ins.


Free yourself from any bit of technology that doesn’t serve your immediate needs. This means shutting off your cell phone, switching off the TV, and if you don’t need Wi-Fi don’t connect.

Get away

When the distractions of roommates, video games, and the refrigerator become too daunting, choose a go-to place where you feel you can work. Find a coffee shop, a corner table in the library, even a park bench — wherever you can achieve productive solitude.

Use time-boxing

Schedule your work in segments, or boxes, of time in your day planner (e.g. “study chemistry 6:00-6:30 p.m.”). These time commitments help you stay focused on-task, avoid procrastination, and they tell you when it’s time to move on to something else. Use a kitchen egg timer for an easy reminder.

Assign a memo

When a wayward thought enters your head, write a memo in your student planner for later. It’s as simple as “Note to self: walk the dog later.” This gets the distraction out of your head and down on paper. Knowing that you’ll follow-up later will declutter your brain and keep you on-task.

De-program yourself

When online study and research is required, set hard and fast rules about what is acceptable during this task time. This means no email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or any other web surfing is permitted during this time. Don’t cheat, a few minutes of surfing add-up in a hurry.

Allow for break time

Reward yourself for having good study habits with break time. This is when you can allow for some guilt-free distraction time. Balance in your life is healthy. Just make sure you are setting limits to your recess and sticking to them.

Managing your distractions in school is pretty much your first true test of how you will handle life in the “real world.” Improving your time management now will create stronger study habits, which will ultimately lead to better grades, a great job, and whatever else you consider success in life.

Remember: setting a schedule for yourself plays a major role in your studies too. Check out our new line of student planners for high school and college students.

Day-Timer Spokesperson Jeff Doubek can be reached at