What is the best way to block out all sound for studying?

With a bit of preparation, assembling your tools, and picking the right place to sit, you should be able to study without interruptions and get more done in less time.

Here’s how to do it:

  • To block off most environmental noise, use silicone ear plugs if you prefer working in silence. They usually come in 6-pack or 12-pack packages, they’re easy to carry with you, and it takes just a few seconds to put them in your ears.
  • To block off noise while listening to music, use noise-cancelling headphones or just the earbuds for your phone. The noise-cancelling headphones are more powerful and are a smart investment, while the earbuds are small and light enough to carry in your pocket.
  • To maximize your music-listening experience, pick music that can boost your focus. Everyone’s taste in music is different, so you probably know what works for you. Need new ideas? Try these playlists of classical sounds, chillout tunes, or even sounds of nature. Use apps such as 8tracks or Pandora to find even more playlists by entering keywords such as “music for studying”, “classical” or “study mix.”
  • To minimize distractions, set your phone to Airplane mode. This will prevent you from getting distracted by incoming calls, text messages, and emails that you may be tempted to check frequently. If it’s difficult to switch off completely, then turn off the volume on your phone and turn the screen away or put it away entirely so you can’t see it.
  • To prevent any commotion from attracting your attention, get strategic about where you sit. Turn your back to doors, hallways, and areas where there’s a lot of motion. Sit facing a wall or window overlooking trees or a park if it’s possible. It’s much better for focusing than being in front of a window overlooking a busy and noisy street.
  • To prevent interruptions, set expectations with roommates, classmates, and friends. Let everyone know you need to focus uninterrupted for a couple of hours so they don’t come to your desk with questions. You can also let them know that you will catch up with them later once you’re done.
  • If all else fails, go to the library. It’s a great alternative to noisy apartments, dorms and coffee shops. Pick a table somewhere in the back where there isn’t much traffic, so you won’t be tempted to look up at people passing by. Also, prepare everything you’ll need for your study session so that you won’t need to leave for several hours: carry your reading materials, notes and notebooks, a checklist of items you need to complete, a bottle of water, a thermos with coffee or tea, and a snack for energy.

If you found these study tips useful, there are many more that I’ve collected and put together in an e-book called Your Study Smarter 30-Day Plan. This e-book is designed for the busy student who wants to improve the way they study, boost focus and concentration, stay motivated while preparing for exams, make the most of each study day, and still have time to unwind and have fun despite a heavy workload during the semester.

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