Internal Distractions


  • about pressing responsibilities
  • about pleasant things you’d rather do


  • related to life circumstances
  • about the task itself

Manging Internal Distractions

Make a daily plan

  • Carve out time for each task, and include fun!
  • Discover the best time of day for you to tackle challenging assignments.
  • Discover how long you can study effectively before needing a break.

While Studying

  • Plan an activity to transition your mind for focus, like deep breathing or listening to music.
  • Park competing thoughts on a post-it or notebook and save for later.
  • Consider building movement into your study time. Try a treadmill desk at the Student Union or a standing desk.  How about using a white board?

Get enough rest!  Everyone is more distracted when tired.

External Distractions

Technology (phone, video games, laptop, MP3 player)

Objects or people in your environment

Noises or too much silence

Managing External Distractions

Pick a setting that is a good match for the academic task

  • Can you really stay focused in your dorm room or house when studying?
  • What’s better: a group setting or working alone?
  • What’s better: the library or a cozy spot in a coffee shop?

Consider the noise level you need to work productively

  • Do you need ear plugs or head phones to cancel out surrounding noise?
  • Try background sound. Play white noise on your computer, like rainymood or simplynoise.  Run a fan or play quiet music.

Take charge of technology distractions

  • Limit or bar yourself from unnecessary technology use during set times, and ask a friend to hold you accountable to this!
  • Leave your smartphone, laptop, etc. either at home or with a friend while studying.
  • Use internet-blocking sites or self-management tools. Click here to learn more.

Download PDF: Take Charge of Distractions

REMEMBER: The UNC Learning Center is a great resource! Both Peer Tutoring and Academic Coaching can help you create a balanced approach to succeeding at Carolina. Our friendly staff is ready to help – drop by or make an appointment!

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License. You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Learning Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.