Tuesday, April 16, 2024

9 A+ Tips to Stop Letting Your Phone Distract You at School

Zap digital distractions and focus!⚡

What’s one thing college students can’t live without? Their phones. 📱 But even if this handy device gives you the answers you need for school in a second, it’s also a terrible distraction.

College students spend around 20 percent of class time scrolling on TikTok or Reddit, and that divided attention can cause poor academic performance. 🙁

If you’re serious about getting that A in college, follow these science-backed tips to stop letting your phone distract you. 💯

1. Disable Notifications on Your Phone 🛑

Can’t seem to focus on your professor without checking your phone? We hate to break it to you, but your attention span most likely needs work. 😬

Good thing phones have a silent mode where notifications can still come through, but you won’t hear it (and thus forget about it!). 🔇

Your hand setting the iPhone to Do Not Disturb mode to stop letting your phone distract you at school
Remove the visual and audible cues of distractions during class when you set your phone to ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode. Photo: Elijah Fox/Unsplash

On the other hand, the Do Not Disturb mode prevents anything from showing up on your phone (unless you select certain apps as exemptions).

When classes are done, but a few apps are still becoming a bother, manually disabling or modifying their notifications in your phone settings is an effective alternative. ✔️

2. Practice Logging In and Out of Your Accounts 👋

Being automatically logged in is a surefire way to keep you distracted since you can easily bounce from one app to another. 😵‍💫 

So, introducing a little bit of inconvenience can save your grades. What you do is log out of the app after each use which prompts you to sign back in if you want to use it again. 

A disappointed female college student decides not to hassle herself with all the log in details to access unnecessary social media notifications while studying
Another way to stop letting your phone distract you from school is to consistently log off from your accounts, making it harder to scratch your social media itch. Photo: wayhomestudio/Freepik

If you go the extra mile and disable the autofill features, manually typing your email address and password every time can turn into a tiresome chore. The friction may discourage you from randomly checking your phone multiple times a day. 👍

TIP: Using two-factor authentication can be a good move because it makes the process of logging in harder while keeping your phone more secure.

3. Uninstall Social Media Apps 🧱

Social media is one way to stay connected, but it’s a recipe for disaster when you’re too distracted watching viral TikTok videos instead of listening in class. 😬

Remove the culprits of your social media addiction by clearing out your mobile apps. That way, you won’t be tempted to open them every time you’re supposed to do something for school with your phone. 

An American male college student using his laptop to research an unfamiliar concept while studying in the college library
Need to research something for class? Use your laptop (with disabled social media notifications) instead to stay focused. Photo: gpointstudio/Freepik

When it comes to your laptop, using social media via desktop browsers (and following Tip No. 2) is a tiring experience that can curb the cravings for mindless scrolling. 👍

4. Turn On Grayscale Display ⚙️

The eye-catching layout of your smartphone was designed to get you hooked for hours. Now, this got us thinking: what if your phone gets rid of all stimulating colors in favor of plain, boring gray to lessen phone use? 🤔

A female freshman turns on her phone settings to grayscale before a study session
Explore and use your phone’s settings, like grayscale and disabling notifications, to prevent apps from distracting you in earning an impressive GPA. Photo: Freepik

Setting your phone in grayscale makes Instagram look blah, YouTube less entertaining, and mobile games feel dissatisfying — making you less likely to get distracted in school. 🥱

Aside from curbing your phone addiction (especially during crunch time at school), going grayscale can also save battery life and help ease you to sleep at night. 

TIP: iOS users can switch to grayscale by visiting Settings > Accessibility > Display & Text Size > Color Filters.
Android users can open up Settings > Digital Wellbeing and Parental Controls > Bedtime Mode. 

5. Find Something Else to Do in Your Downtime ☕

If you’ve been busting your phone out whenever your eyes glaze over from boredom, it’s time to find easy tricks to snap out of your addiction. 

Doodling on a piece of paper or daydreaming about pleasant things in the classroom is a creative and healthy practice. ☁️ But of course, paying attention in class is the priority. 

A male college student sips coffee to keep himself focused during class instead of getting distracted by his phone
Take a 15-minute power nap during your break or drink coffee before class to keep yourself alert and focused instead of letting your phone distract you at school. Photo: senivpetro/Freepik

A cold drink can also perk you up when you’re starting to doze off. Running to a coffee shop for a cold brew before class or bringing your homemade iced mocha to class can be good strategies. ☕

But if all that isn’t enough, go on a bathroom break to stretch your legs and change your environment. The short walk can bring your drive back to focus and listen to the professor. 🚶

6. Prepare Consequences When You Get Distracted 😫

Some people become more fired up with the fear of losing something (a way of thinking called “loss aversion”) and you can use this as one of the tips to stop letting your phone distract you. 📱

A group of four college friends preparing not to get distracted before class
Friends can be your accountability buddies as you try to overcome your addiction to your phone. Photo: Freepik

Following this concept, it’s easier to avoid your phone when you’ve promised your best friend $5 every time he sees you holding it instead of listening in class. 💸

Plus, your time away from your screen gives your neck a break from the strain of looking down for prolonged periods.

7. Gamify Your Study or Work Process 🎮

To make your phone less appealing, treat your schoolwork like a game: break it down into smaller tasks with a simple reward at every completion. 🏆 

Working on a group project or attending one class after another? Promise yourself to get after-school milkshakes or one hour of watching your favorite TV series.

A group of three college friends happily playing video games after finishing schoolwork
Minimizing phone distractions keeps you on top of your coursework, making you fully enjoy your video game sessions with friends when homework is completely finished. Photo: Freepik

You can give yourself plus points if you think of ways to stay engaged in class, like organizing your study notes, and not just when you’re studying at home. 😀

The allure of a reward after getting important work done can turn it all into a positive experience so you’ll be more likely to focus and procrastinate less. 😄

8. Create a Social Media Schedule (and Stick To It) 📅

Creating a routine based on your activity pattern can be a foolproof approach to avoiding phone distractions. 

Here’s how: use the summary of your screen time and most-used apps in your phone settings as the basis for creating your social media schedule to make it easier for you to stick to it. 📱

Note: Look for these in your phone settings: iOS users can check for Screen Time, while Android users can turn to Digital Wellbeing for data about their phone use. 

A smiling Asian female college student relaxing while scrolling on her phone after completing her studies for the day
Following a social media schedule keeps you focus on schoolwork while giving you the chance to use your phone guilt-free. Photo: benzoix/Freepik

If you tend to check social media before class, keep that in your schedule but set a time limit. There’s no need to go cold turkey which may backfire in the long run. 

Make it even easier to follow your schedule by setting alarms so you’ll have an audible guide to let you know when it’s time to play and when playtime’s over. 🔔

TIP: Reduce the fear of missing out or worrying about your family members or friends not being able to reach you ASAP by informing them of your active times on social media. 

9.  Install App Blockers 📱

What if you badly need to access information and your smartphone is the only one that could save you? 🛟

Avoid getting distracted by Twitter notifications while researching what ‘teleological’ means. How? Use app blockers like Forest and SelfControl. 

A Caucasian male college student quickly messages groupmates without getting distracted on his phone due to installed app blockers
Use your phone wisely instead of letting it use you and ruining your focus on completing coursework. Photo: karlyukav/Freepik

These can block you from accessing apps within a certain time period (like during your one hour of calculus class). But if you don’t feel like installing anything, set limits on your phone settings to freeze access on certain apps once you’ve used up the allotted time. 👍

Note: Your brain is not designed to focus on two things at the same time (whether it’s by multitasking or switch-tasking), especially if they are equally demanding of your attention.


Let’s face it: it’s challenging to stop letting your phone distract you from school when you’re in a world that’s online 24/7. 

But if you’re desperate to see your grade climb higher, try one of our tips (or a combination of any from the list 😉) as a start. Now, go get that A! 💪

Tips to Stop Letting Your Phone Distract You at School: Frequently Asked Questions

How does my phone affect focus?

Phones can negatively affect your focus because of the pressure it puts on your brain to process a lot of information. This happens when you’re multi-tasking activities that equally demand your attention, like writing a term paper or studying for finals while chatting with friends.

How many hours should I use my phone?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of mobile phones for students?

What are good app blockers that can help avoid phone distractions?

Why does my phone distract me so much? 

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