Sometimes people interrupt your homework. Maybe they don’t mean to, or didn’t know you were working. Maybe they have no way to understand the consequences of their actions, such as if they’re an infant or a cat. Regardless, distractions can have a major negative impact on schoolwork. Repeated distractions can even add literal hours to the time you spend working.

This isn’t necessarily the worst evil in and of itself – occasional inconvenience is part of the social contract. But some people just don’t seem to understand what they’re doing; sometimes because they can’t, and sometimes because they just… won’t. It’s not as if you can control these people or situations, after all. Unwanted distraction just a sucky part of being a person.

That being said, there are steps that can be taken to help ensure that you have the time and space you need to complete your work.

Why are they interrupting you in the first place? This is extremely important to consider before moving forward. A parent interrupting your work to tell you something trivial is one thing and is usually safe to ignore, but an infant interrupting your work because they need care is a different thing entirely. And both of these situations are different than someone you don’t live with at all listening to their music so loudly that it’s distracting you. A good strategy for handling one of these situations might be detrimental in another.

Can you make some sort of a compromise, boundary, etc? For instance, as you can’t rightly ignore a crying infant, you can make the situation into a compromise by having your partner or another trustworthy person take care of them during your study times so that you don’t have to worry about both responsibilities at once. And while this won’t work on everybody, often just telling someone in direct terms to stop doing a thing is enough. If you truly have no idea how to have this conversation, it may do you well to brush up on techniques such as the D.E.A.R. M.A.N. strategy.

If you can’t do anything about the distraction directly, what can you do that is indirect? For instance, you can try going to the library to do your homework instead of doing it at home, or otherwise physically prevent someone from talking to you when it’s work time. This may feel rude, but you do have every right to “do not disturb” time, especially when studying. Another approach is to try to do your work when the distraction is not present, if possible. Even if loud music is distressingly common where you live, it’s likely not a 24/7 affair.


I also want to specify that this article is not necessarily about idly browsing your phone or social media on the side while also doing your homework. For some people, this sort of self-directed distraction can be a useful tool for managing anxiety, ADHD, or other conditions while working. But if you find that habit problematic, much of this article will still apply.

Whatever is distracting you, I hope you’re able to find a way to deal with things. You have every right to a study environment conducive to actual studying.