Life is full of distractions (we promise this article isn’t one of them).
When it comes to completing your online Cert IV TAE course – or any other course for that matter – distractions could be the difference between success and failure.
We all know how good it feels to be completely consumed by a task and operating at maximum productivity, but how do you get rid of those pesky distractions and get in “THE ZONE”?
Here are 10 strategies to help you deal with distractions while you complete your Certificate IV TAE.
1. Find the cause
Take a step back and look at your learning environment. How is your office set up? Is your desk full of clutter? Is your phone always in sight? Do you have a well-meaning but intrusive co-worker who has come to talk to you about her cat, Mr Jingles (again)? Be honest with yourself and find a way to eliminate the number of distractions in your immediate surroundings. Sometimes this can involve creating new ways of doing things…or new times.
“I find the most productive time of the day with the least amount of distractions is between 5am-7am,” said former Fortress Learning Managing Director, Dr Bryan West. “I know from my own students that the ones who get the most done are also the ones who have carved out particular chunks of time that they then dedicate to one thing: their study.”
2. Look within
Perhaps it’s time you stop blaming Mr Jingles for the fact your assessment never got submitted and start looking within yourself. Why is your mind all over the place? Why can’t you focus on the task at hand? Is your fear of failure causing you to stall? Are you thinking about the fight you had with your mother about who is hosting Christmas lunch this year? Figure out what distractions you are causing yourself and create a blank slate in your mind.
“You can always find a distraction if you’re looking for one,” said American athlete, Tom Kite.
3. Take a break
Creating a calm and focused mind is easier said than done. Start by stopping what you are doing and taking some time to relax your mind. Whether that be meditating, lying down for 20 minutes, having a quiet cup of tea or going for a walk, take a moment to sort through everything that is going on in your head and re-focus.
“If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit,” says political activist, Banksy.
4. Make a schedule
Failing to plan is planning to fail, as every good trainer will tell you. Creating a schedule and allocating specific time to specific tasks can be a powerful tool to get stuff done. By knowing what you have to do during a certain time period, you also know what you don’t have to do. This promotes time for you to get in the zone and gives less power to the ever-so-sneaky distractions lurking in the distance.
“I don’t know where I would be without my daily to-do list,” says Fortress Learning Cert IV TAE graduate, Margaret. “It keeps me accountable, and also helps me remember what’s important as the day goes on and my mind starts to wander.”
5. Make it known
A huge source of distraction is often supplied from the ones who want us to succeed the most: our friends and family. Are you susceptible to always accepting your BFF Jennifer’s invitations to happy-hour drinks when you know you should be studying? Are your children having a WWE wrestling match outside your home office and you are the assigned Umpire? Tell those closest to you that you really want to get this course finished and what that will involve moving forward. Why not tell your cat-obsessed work colleague too, while you’re at it.
Fortress Learning Cert IV TAE Trainer, Emma Siebuhr, says, “It is so important to not let other people influence your focus. Once you create a particular focus on a task, try to maintain that focus until the task is complete.”
6. Block Social Media
As if your immediate friends and family aren’t distracting enough, there is an entire world of people on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Pinterest, Snapchat (the list goes on) and they are posting ALL THE TIME. The dangerous thing about social media is you feel like you’ve been scrolling for 5 minutes when you have actually been absorbed for half an hour. Take measures to eliminate the urge to check social media; leave your phone in a different room and download a website blocking app such as Cold Turkey which locks you out of whatever website you desire for an allocated period of time. Of course, this can make it hard if you need to access the Fortress TAE Discussion Group on Facebook!
“Social media is so addictive,” says Fortress Learning Student Liaison, Genevieve Skinner. “Sometimes I feel like my phone is holding me at ransom. I want to stop scrolling but I can’t. It’s not like I can contact Kim Kardashian and ask her to stop posting for a few hours until I get all my work done, but I find leaving my phone in another room helps.”
7. Refrain from multi-tasking
The ability to multi-task is often used as a bragging right, but multitasking can often lead to a lot of tasks getting half-done. In some cases, slow and steady wins the race. By tackling one task at a time, you are then able to keep the momentum going and get it done, rather than jumping ship to another task once the first task got “too hard”.
“Commit to completing one task in full,” says Fortress Learning Student Liaison, Amy Weeks. “Do not multi-task! Multitasking equals lack of attention to detail which means mistakes are made which equals crying.”
8. Be in the moment
We have all found ourselves caught in a daydream of what our next holiday will be, what we are going to eat for dinner or fantasizing about lying on the couch watching Netflix. In your mind, anything seems better than completing the task at hand. Well, SNAP OUT OF IT. Stop imagining yourself being fanned on a beach and start living in the now. Studying isn’t so bad; make yourself a coffee, put on your most snug pyjamas and try to enjoy what you are learning about.
“When I first joined the program I just wanted to get the course finished ASAP,” says Fortress Learning graduate, Rodney. “But I did not account for the professionalism of Emma. She was very professional, and would not accept anything but the best, but she did in such a way, that I, the student, got this renewed energy to learn more, and to be able to use the information in the future in my Business Diploma teaching in China.
Now that I have graduated, I now realise how much my study turned into a positive experience, and has influenced forever my lecturing style,thanks to Fortress and Emma (especially Emma) my whole outlook on student learning and teaching style (after 50+ years) has changed for the better.”
9. Think positively
Negativity will only make the job harder and more miserable. Those with a positive mindset come up with solutions when faced with problems. Negative Nancys only come up with more problems caused by the problem, and then the only viable solution is to give up altogether. Think happy thoughts; don’t let negativity distract you from the light at the end of the tunnel.
“Fortress is great, the team are organized supportive and always available. Their online system is very easy to use. Overall a very positive experience,” says Fortress Learning graduate, Kate.
10. Think of the big picture
There is a reason you are doing what you are doing. When you are in the nitty-gritty of study it can be easy to forget what it is all for. Write down your end goal and stick it somewhere you look at often. This will help you keep your focus and keep distractions at bay.
“After a rocky start to my TAE career, I was placed with Fortress Learning,” says Fortress Learning graduate, Carolyn. “What a fantastic group of people. They helped me so much and encouraged me to complete my TAE. I would not have finished had it not been for Emma and the team. Thank you so much.”