Grandmaster Concentration: Your Guide to Distraction-Free Chess Training

Today, I’m going to show you how to get rid of distractions during chess training.

In a world obsessed with quick hacks, pop-up messages, and social media notifications, it is hard to stay focused for a prolonged period of time.

But that’s exactly what you need if you want to improve your chess effectively.

Sadly, many chess improvers lack the critical preparation needed to avoid distractions from coming up. ‘Willpower’ or ‘Discipline’ is mostly not enough to say no to all distractions fighting for your attention.

30-minute focused Training is better than 3 hours of training with constant interruptions

Saying no to distractions is hard. That’s why you need systems that don’t allow distractions to come up in the first place. The four main drivers that helped me avoid distractions during chess training, and now during work, are:

  • Creating a “Chess Zone”
  • Blocking all notifications on digital devices
  • Letting my loved ones know when I train
  • Hydrating before each session

Thanks to these four precautions you will be able to train chess with a monk-like focus. Ready to dive in?

Here’s how you set those up step by step:

Step 1: Create Your Chess Zone

Creating a chess zone tells your brain “Now is focus time!”.

When I trained and worked in my bedroom I had constant temptations around me. Then I rented a small office which I used just for chess training & work.

Wow, the difference was insane. Suddenly, all the video games were gone, and I could even block some of the most tempting social media on the work computer to enhance focus.

You might think: “I can’t just rent an office to train chess”. Don’t worry, you don’t have to.

With just a few tricks you can create your chess zone without using any additional space. Here is how:

  • If you train on your computer, create a new user. Only use your chess programs and a browser on this user.
  • Get a wall desk and use it for chess training only. I bought one for $30 and use it whenever I do home office now.

My office for today.

My office for today.

  • Drink always the same drink before you study chess. Seriously, this small hack can have the same effect as a proper office. You tell your brain: “Now is study time!”

If you have the space, a little table you only use for chess training can be amazing. But even without the space but a little creativity, you can send the same message to your brain every time you study chess: “No distractions, please!”

Following these steps, soon enough, you might have your little chess study paradise.

Step 2: Block Notifications

Digital devices are a constant source of distraction. You can get notifications for text messages, social media posts, news, and much more.

If you are not the president of the United States, you can afford to be without your phone for a 45-60 minute chess training session.

So whenever you train chess, put your phone on mute or even airplane mode. Heck, even better, put it in a totally different room. That’s what I do whenever I really have to get something done.

And if you train chess on your laptop, make sure to disable all notifications. Just a little pop-up of an email entering your inbox can be enough to distract you for a while. Even if you can resist the urge to click on the email, you will have lost your focus and maybe even think about the content of that email.

Definitely not worth it!

Step 3: Tell your loved ones: Now is Training time

So now you have a place to study chess and no more digital interruptions. This helps, but isn’t everything just yet.

If you live with other people, it is possible that they will interrupt your flow by asking questions at an unfortunate moment.

This happened to me often while living with my family. My solution was very simple: every time I trained chess, I let everyone in my family know I would be unavailable for a certain amount of time.

Then, I put a piece of paper on my door saying “Psst Hard Chess Training Going On”.

Suddenly what seemed so urgent before could easily wait for 45 Minutes.

Here is the deal: if you don’t respect your focus time, others won’t do it for you. It is your job to let others know you want to study chess without interruption for a certain period of time. I’m sure they’ll respect it.

Step 4: Hydrate before each Training session

I know this might sound silly, but getting up to get a glass of water or visiting the bathroom can be a big distraction as well.

Walking next to where your phone is, you might pick it up “and just shortly” check your texts. Or going to the kitchen someone starts to talk to you and it would be not polite to just walk back and think about your chess exercise.

To solve this issue, always bring a glass of water to your chess training zone and visit the bathroom before you start to study. That’s it.

If you:

  • Create your chess zone
  • Block Notifications
  • Let your loved ones know
  • Hydrate well

you will be able to train chess with proper focus and without interruptions. This is the training that will lead to the exceptional results you wish for.

Keep improving,


Want to improve your chess even further?

Here is how I can help you beyond my free articles, Tweets & Newsletter:

  • Get my Chess Training Planner. This is the perfect help to schedule your chess training and review each session. The Planner will help you to study chess more effectively and get more out of every session.
  • Join 400+ happy students ****by taking my course Next Level Training. From solving chess tactics the right way to building an opening repertoire and analyzing your own games: this course teaches you everything you need to know about effective Chess Training. Let me be your guide to get your chess to the Next Level.

This post was originally a Newsletter. I send out one every Friday. It is totally free to sign up. You can join over 11,000 chess improvers here.

I firmly believe that

anyone can improve their chess through the right mindset and training techniques.

I’m here to guide you on your journey to chess mastery.

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