How to Minimize Distractions While Writing an Essay

By Kaitlin Hurtado on April 8, 2018

The thought of writing an essay may already fill you with dread, but when you actually sit down to write it – all of the distractions surrounding you may make it even harder to complete your essay. In an ideal situation, you will have given yourself plenty of time to write an essay. You will have enough time to brainstorm around your thesis, write an outline, go to office hours and have your professor or TA look over your thesis, and still have time to go through several drafts of your essay.

However, an ideal situation is not always the case when you are taking multiple classes amid a busy social, work, and academic life. When you do have find time to write an essay, every moment you can find is precious whether you are writing an essay last minute or not. To make the writing process even easier, help minimize any possible distractions next time you sit down to write an essay by considering the following tips.

typing on laptop

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Clear your schedule 

Sitting down to write an essay will be a lot harder if you have a list of things you need to do in the near future fighting for your concentration. You don’t want to have your mind stray off your essay and onto building a mental checklist of other homework assignments or tasks to complete.

Instead, go into your writing session with a clear head and schedule. If you know you have other homework assignments with a looming deadline, try to knock them out before writing your essay. If you would rather work on your essay first and use the leftover time for your homework assignments, make a schedule that you can attempt to stick to as start writing your essay. Writing an essay with a time frame in mind will mimic working under pressure and let you rest easy when it comes to worrying about having enough time for other homework assignments.

If your other responsibilities aren’t homework related – try to get them done beforehand. If it’s the weekend and it’s your typical time to knock out cleaning the apartment or doing your laundry, try to do it all before writing your essay so you can settle down to write your essay with a clean environment. If you really are in a time crunch, write your essay in between runs to the laundry room to switch out loads of laundry – your quick little breaks can also function as bathroom breaks or much needed mental breaks to help you get away from your essay and return with a fresh mind.

Pick an environment that works for you

Just like everyone has various learning styles, you will also have a different preference in an environment that allows you to maximize productivity. For some, they can be completely productive in the comfort of their own bed without the smallest worry of drifting off to sleep. While staying cooped up in your bedroom in your pajamas may seem like your most appealing option, heading out to a campus study spot may be your best option when it comes to minimizing distractions when writing an essay.

Slip on clothes that are comfortable, but not comfortable enough for you to find the closest thing resembling your bed to take a “quick” nap on when you are only two paragraphs into your first draft. Arm yourself with enough supplies to eliminate going back home to pick something you forgot up or taking multiple, unnecessary trips to your campus convenience store or coffee shop. Slip a few granola bars or a ready-to-eat meal, a full water bottle, a jacket for the library’s AC, and all necessary chargers and headphones to properly equip yourself for a writing session. If you are planning for a longer study session, pick up your favorite coffee drink before you head to your chosen study spot.

Prepare to say no to possible “study” buddies 

Be honest with yourself when you are planning out your writing session – will you really need the presence of other people when writing an essay? If you know you haven’t been productive in previously planned study sessions with friends or classmates – don’t plan on getting your essay done by attending another study session.

If the presence of others has previously distracted you from putting your full focus on your work, tell your friends or classmates you are going to pass on any upcoming study sessions. You may think having others around you will motivate you to study, but they will also serve as the perfect distraction when you see them not studying or want to talk to them without realizing how much time you are losing.

If you are hesitant to rule out study buddies altogether, try letting a classmate or friend know that you are working on an essay and ask them if they are willing to look it over for a quick proofread or to see if your thesis applies to your essay once you have worked on your essay. This way, you will still have another pair of eyes to look over your work, but you will eliminate the distraction of having others in your environment that can pull your focus away from writing your essay.

Regardless of whether or not all of these tips work for your situation, try to remember what has distracted you from writing your essays in the past. Apply what hasn’t worked for you in the past to help make writing your next essay all the more easier.

By Kaitlin Hurtado

Uloop Writer
Hello! I'm Kaitlin, a fourth year Literary Journalism major at UC Irvine. I'm a writer on Uloop's national team and a campus editor for UCI.

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