If these sound familiar to you, you surely know how difficult it can be to learn with a short attention span:

  • Easily distracted during lectures

  • Making careless mistakes 

  • Trouble reading long texts 

  • Leaving tasks partially done 

  • Difficulty managing time 

A distracted student who is on her laptop and eating chips instead of doing her homework

Most academic settings aren't built for students who get bored or distracted easily, but there are ways to maximize your learning even with a short attention span!

1. Establish a routine that works for you

Building a routine can help get you in the mood to study and practice habits that you want to repeat regularly. A study routine can look like:

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  1. Prepare a simple drink or snack to energize yourself

  2. Use a checklist to go over tasks and chunk similar ones together

  3. Recap material from the day before

  4. Take a short break by going on a walk

  5. Accomplish your assignments

2. Create a distraction-free environment

Distractions can prevent you from sticking to your routine. Determining and limiting these distractions can help you be more productive with your learning.

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Mute your phone notifications or use site-blocking software on your computer.

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Use noise-canceling headphones to prevent auditory distractions.

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Keep your study environment clean by getting rid of clutter and visual distractions.

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Keep a journal to write down distracting thoughts.


Sally is reviewing for her English exam tomorrow, but she suddenly gets a random idea that she can't get off her mind. What should Sally do?

3. Break down, Prioritize, Repeat

Working on a single task for long periods can be a struggle for those who get easily distracted. Prioritize tasks and use your short attention span to your advantage.

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Break down larger tasks into smaller, actionable steps. Prioritize important ones and focus on them first.

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Try the Pomodoro technique by working in 25-minute chunks and taking short breaks in between.

Take Action

Incorporating strategies to learn with a short attention span can help you achieve a more productive learning journey.

A focused dog studying and taking notes on a book


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