Chapter 2: Reading and Comprehension

The Distracted Reader

So, you have found the best place and the best time for you to do your reading, but “Oh no!” you become consumed with the YouTube clip showing goats yelling “Ahhh!” … and then, of course, you decide to check up on your friends’ social media pages and some memes to cheer you up.

It happens to everyone.

Technology and social media are great, but these mediums can also be so distracting from your studies! On top of that, you may also have commitments that pull you in multiple directions including pets, work, family, and friends.

You can’t eliminate distractions completely, but you can think about how you can best minimize the distractions that are most distracting for you. Listen to the Audio Podcast 2.1 by a past nursing student from Toronto Metropolitan University about strategies that she uses to minimize distractions while reading. 

Portrait of Frances Dimaranan

Audio Podcast 2.1: Minimizing distractions [2:59]

Transcript for audio podcast 2.1 at bottom of page.


Student Tip

Minimize Distractions

Put your smartphone in another room or turn it off (yes seriously, really, do it!). Close all social media pages. Find a location where you won’t be interrupted, such as the library or a coffee shop. You might find reading on the train or bus works for you if you have a long commute. Give yourself timed breaks: enjoy your break however you wish, but remove all distractions when your break is done so you can refocus.

Self-control Apps

Need help with self-control? Many computer and phone apps can help you minimize distractions. You just need to find the ones that work for you. Talk to your peers and try some out. See Table 2.2 for some common apps that your peers talk about.

Table 2.2: Self-control Apps

Waste No Time is a popular one because you can personalize everything:

  • You can personalize the websites you want to block and allow.
  • You can edit the time range: define work hours and how much time you want to allow yourself to visit the blocked sites during work hours and outside of work hours.

Just Focus can help with self-control, and is easily disabled by pressing a button

  • You can easily add websites you want to block.
  • If you visit the blocked site, you receive an inspiring quote to motivate you to finish your work.

Be Focused – Focus Timer (only available on Apple products)

  • This does not block any websites, but it allows you to customize how long you want to work and sets up breaks.
  • This helps with knowing how much time you have focused on a task. 


These small actions can improve your reading and help you finish faster so you can continue to snap your friends on Snapchat (don’t forget to add the dog filter!) or edit some artsy photos for your Instagram.



Transcript for audio podcast 2.1 at bottom of page.

Chapter 2, the distracted reader. There are many distractions, such as smartphones or music, that arise when it is time for you to meet each course’s content. Here are a few strategies to minimize distractions, whether you are using an online or a hard copy textbook. Number one. You can either turn off your phone, put it on do not disturb, or place it in another room. Your smartphones can be your number one distraction. It holds your favorite apps, your contacts, your favorite music playlist. Thus, once you see the screen light up and messages or notifications, you pick it up right away.  So by turning it off when you pick it up you will not see anything by putting it on Do not disturb, you will not get distracted when the screen lights up, and by placing it another room you will not be tempted to pick it up and check your notifications. Number 2. You can use apps such as be Be Focused or Waste No Time to minimize distractions. Be Focused is a free app that uses the Pomodoro technique, it uses a timer to break down tasks into 25 minute intervals. You will start with 25 minutes, then a 5 minute break, and repeats for 4 times. After that you will be rewarded with a 15 minute break. Using this technique will help you work efficiently. Taking a frequent break, will boost your motivation and keep you creative. Waste No Time is a free app that can be downloaded via Google chrome extensions. It allows you to focus on your work for a period of time with limited Internet access. But you can customize which websites you want to block, such as Facebook or Youtube.  However, you can select a predetermined time on each website, for example, between 9 to 5 Pm, you select a predetermined time of 30 minutes for Facebook. Once you use it for 30 minutes, it will block you from the site which will leave you time to focus on your readings. Waste No Time helps you manage the time that you spend on the Internet and increases your productivity. Check out these apps. Number 3, set small and manageable goals. Our brain does not usually retain its efficiency for long periods of time. So small goals will allow you to finish quicker, allowing you to be consistently productive. These 3 strategies will help you minimize distractions from your reading. Try them out.


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The Scholarship of Writing in Nursing Education: 1st Canadian Edition Copyright © 2019 by Jennifer Lapum; Oona St-Amant; Michelle Hughes; Andy Tan; Arina Bogdan; Frances Dimaranan; Rachel Frantzke; and Nada Savicevic is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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