How can I avoid distractions while preparing for UPSC CSE?

How can I avoid distractions while preparing for UPSC CSE?

It is natural for a student to feel distracted during studies. However, being aware of the source of such distractions may help avoid them, enabling you to concentrate more on your studies.

How can I avoid distractions while preparing for UPSC CSE?

It is natural for a student to feel distracted during studies. However, being aware of the source of such distractions may help avoid them, enabling you to concentrate more on your studies.

The human mind is created in such a manner that it is natural for it to show interest and be receptive to its surroundings. This character of mind makes it inquisitive and it is this feature that aids it in acquiring different types of knowledge. This knowledge gathering exercise is further aided by our sensory organs such as eyes, ears, nose etc. Therefore, to solve the problems of distractions it is important that first of all we understand the nature of our mind and develop an awareness of our own surroundings.

The inquisitiveness that is a key feature of our mind which helps it in knowledge acquisition sometimes proves as a distraction when we try to focus on a particular activity at a certain point in time. Depending on a person’s physical surroundings and mental inclinations, the types of distractions could also vary. Some of the common distractions that could be associated with the Civil Services aspirants could include: the urge to watch movies or series on Netflix, listening to music, partying with friends, spending time on social media, visiting relatives, going on long trips or playing favourite online or offline games etc.

The list of these activities, which generally prove as distractions during studies, could be very long and they might also substantially vary from person to person. Therefore, rather than worrying about these activities, the best way to avoid distractions would be by striving to develop a sharp focus on the desired goal at a particular point in time. For instance, if you are a UPSC aspirant and you wish to study for a certain number of hours, then during that time it is important for you to ensure that you take interest in your studies and have a complete focus on that. You can further ensure that by taking a proactive approach and being mindful of the output corresponding to your input in terms of the devoted time.

It may also happen that despite your best efforts you are not feeling focused and still feeling distracted to do something else. During such eventualities, it may be alright to indulge in those activities provided you are fully aware that such indulgences serve just as a break and not as a complete divergence or departure from your primary duty, i.e., studies. If you cater to your distractions in a restricted manner then such moderation could help you in devoting sufficient time to your studies despite catering to your distractions. The harm is usually done when such indulgences are too much and too intense and at the cost of your studies. Doing in a measured manner, what otherwise could prove as distractions would actually serve as a healthy and much-needed break.

Naturally, it is important to distinguish between avoidable distractions and much-needed breaks. A particular activity that could be called a distraction during your study could be considered as a well-deserved break if that is done at a designated time and for a designated duration. So, while making your study plan or setting daily goals leave some time for these little distractions, be it talking to a friend, watching your favourite anime or simply listening to your favourite songs. In this way, you are training your mind to schedule distractions. If you do so the feeling of guilt that often results from indulging in these activities would go away and you would be able to focus in a better way.

A few additional tips that can help you avoid unnecessary distractions are:

Create a suitable environment for studying:  In the initial stages of their preparation, students get distracted because of a lack of habit of sitting for long hours and studying. Due to this different ideas and thoughts come into their mind. The habit of studying for long hours can be inculcated by sitting and studying in a quiet place. Turning off all devices during such a time is imperative. Many apps which help build concentration and focus are also available. Timers can be set and only once the goal is completed should scheduled breaks be taken.

Maintain a to-do-list and set realistic goals: Setting goals will keep you accountable to yourself. Make goals on a  daily, weekly and monthly basis. Dividing goals into different time periods will increase your chances of finishing your work. Once you have achieved your goal, for example, the daily target of revising a particular book reward yourself with an episode of your favourite series before sleeping. Setting goals would keep you on track and act as a sort of internal pressure on you to avoid distractions.

Divide the time with short breaks: Every student has different cognitive skills and learning abilities due to which some students might find it difficult to focus intensely and deeply for a long time. The mind needs rejuvenation timely after grasping some information. Thus, every UPSC aspirant can reduce the distraction by taking a 10-minute break after an hour of studying. The break must not be perceived as a waste of time because a little time taken to refresh the mind boosts creativity and raises the capacity of the mind to learn more content from the study materials. 

Avoid the anxiety associated with this examination: One of the reasons for distraction is the lack of confidence.  Don’t be an over-thinker. Keep yourself motivated and be confident in your ability to successfully tackle this examination. For motivation, you can hear speeches by influential people such as DR. Khan and imbibe his ideas and values to help sail through moments of anxiety and despair.


Include healthy food and fruits in the diet: The students appearing for the civil service examination must include healthy food in the diet because UPSC requires dedicated studies which require focus and energy. Thus, students must keep their minds and body healthy to ensure the smooth functioning of the body. Regular exercise is also essential for the same.

Getting enough sleep:  Try to get  6-7:30 hours of sleep every night. It helps to relax your mind and focus better. While you sleep, keep your phone on silent mode, because you do not need just sleep but a night of quality sleep. A sleep-deprived person often lacks focus and is prone to distraction. You do not need to lose your sleep in order to clear this examination.

To sum up, it can be said that to reduce distractions, there is a need to follow the path of dedication, discipline, motivation and visual reminders.   

Remember that the opposite of distraction is attraction and an understanding of this dimension will greatly help you in avoiding harmful distractions. It is important to have a very clear idea of your goal before you start your preparation for Civil Services. When you are clear about your goal, and if that goal is to be a Civil Servant, then it will help you feel attracted towards that goal. Naturally, and as a corollary, this will also help you feel inclined towards the means to reach that goal. So don’t worry too much about your distractions, rather take a keen interest in your primary object of attraction – the preparation of the Civil Services. I am sure that this approach will enable you to prepare better with minimal distractions and ensure your success in the Civil Services examination.

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