Technology distractions are ubiquitous these days. Studies show that many employees are working a fraction of the time they are on the clock – and technology is not just a distraction in the workplace. This issue begs the question: when you’re studying, what percentage of the time are you productively studying? Have you considered how many times you check your email or answer a text or tap your phone to see if anything popped up? And the problem is not merely the time spent on the device. The constant task-switching itself takes a toll on the effectiveness of your study time because every time you are distracted, it takes additional effort to refocus.
At any given moment, we can only give our focus to and perform one thing well. Each time we switch between tasks, our brain’s energy level and mental acuity goes down causing us to be inefficient and less productive.
However, we have the feeling that you already know technology is a distraction! But it’s so tempting and such an accepted habit. Most of us continue to allow technology to surround us from the moment we wake up until we lay down – and maybe even all night long.
What can I do about technology and its effect on my CPA Exam goals?
The first and most crucial step is to decide that you are going to limit your technology use and its hold on your life. If you haven’t made up your mind, then technology’s addictive nature will make up your mind for you – and not in the direction of improved focus.
How do you motivate yourself to put down the phone and get to work?
- You get a 72 or 74 on an Exam. Do you wonder if having your phone and email right beside you every hour you were studying contributed to the failed score?
- Wouldn’t you rather be productive during the chunks of time you choose to study, especially considering the people you are giving up spending time with instead?
- Wouldn’t you rather take each CPA Exam a few weeks earlier and be finished sooner? Maximize every minute of your study time to finish faster!
What are some ideas for eliminating technology’s distractions?
So, now that you’ve decided to increase your focus by decreasing the pull technology has on you. Let’s discuss some ideas for how you can implement this soon.
- Can you get rid of technology altogether? Can you put your phone in another room far enough away from you that you won’t hear it? Could you study using textbooks or notecards and paper and pencil rather than on your computer? This method will certainly not be feasible all the time, but if you can be “unreachable” for a short while, consider giving it a try! Maybe even turn off the background TV and music every once and a while too…
- Close your email, turn off notifications, or set your phone to “do not disturb.” You can even set up an auto-reply on your emails and phone saying that your studying for the CPA Exam.
- Are you competitive? How about being competitive with yourself? Feel free to set a reward for meeting individual goals of focused study time and beating your prior records. And as you practice, you will likely find your ability to focus for more extended periods increasing. Your reward could be screen time. Or, better yet, the award of a short walk in the sunshine giving you an endorphin high, with the bonus of helping keep you from becoming a pale, indoor-only accountant. ??
- Set maximum technology goals. For example, only check your email 5x/day, Facebook 3x/day, Instagram 1x/day, etc. Make a game of it.
- Devices also offer limits, which can be self-imposed. So, you can set up a monitoring app on any device that will cut you off from certain apps if you exceed the time you set for yourself. You might be surprised at how long you are spending on these apps!
Allow yourself to take stock of what matters to you.
Please consider taking a step back and evaluating what is most important to you. How much of what you are browsing, watching, and following really matters to you? Are you genuinely feeling more connected with people or just up-to-date with lots of strangers? Could you delete some apps, unfollow people, or unsubscribe to clear up some mental and emotional space in your life? Purging isn’t just about physical stuff anymore! No matter how addicted you currently are, you CAN improve your focus. You’ll be so addicted to the feeling of freedom it provides, that it’ll start spreading to other areas of your life.