Hillcroft LRC

Posts Tagged ‘focus

tulipsBW-800pxSuch phrases that are supposed to encourage hard work sometimes have the opposite effect. For example, being told to ‘put your nose to the grindstone’ could put off anyone for whom self-discipline is elusive, from ever studying again! In the New Scientist this week (Issue 3126, pp. 27-30) is a feature article called ‘Daydream believer’. It looks at what we can do to increase our focus at a long task such as revision, looking particularly at letting the mind wander around a topic.

Several studies suggest that letting yourself daydream intentionally about a topic which you are learning is a more effective strategy than forcing yourself to concentrate over a lengthy period.

So when you’re studying, don’t put your nose to the grindstone – tend to the thought garden. Consider the makeup of the flowers (the interesting parts), appreciate the insects and worms (the causes and unseen elements), imagine the sunshine and rain that will fall in the future (the bigger context and processes). Build up an intentional daydream about your topic of study. Mull things over not only when you’re at a desk or in the library, but when you’re in the shower, walking up from the station or making a cup of tea.

There are tried and tested memory techniques that are based on visualisation of the topic matters for instance in rooms of a “house”.

It is hard to remember all your tasks let alone to stay focused on them.  This is especially true if the task is long and has many daunting steps (*ahem*…essay-writing and revision).

There are great apps for your phone, tablet or computer that help you with your to-do lists and productivity. The app called Epic Win sounds innovative with every task you complete giving you the opportunity to enhance your online persona or get to the next level. Turning life admin into a game is one method to stay motivated.

For essay writing and revision, one technique that has been around a fair few years is the Pomodoro technique. Coming from the Italian word for tomato which was the shape of the timer the inventor of the technique used. It is especially good for complex tasks such as completing academic work.

According to the technique the key is to work productively in short stints of 25 minutes. During this timed period you must work and only work. But when the alarm goes off to mark the completion of a productive time period then you get a short (5 minute) break. You could get a cuppa, check Facebook or just otherwise daydream -whatever little reward floats your boat. Then you go back to your productive time. After 3-4 cycles of productivity and short rests you get a longer break (15-30 mins).

The Pomodoro technique may sound a bit too regimented for some, plus what happens if you have just got into something and the alarm for a break goes off? You have to work how it suits you, but perhaps this time-management technique can be part of an armory of other ways to keep your nose to the grindstone.

You can use a timer or find a Pomodoro inspired app online. Some apps like Keep Focused and Pomodairo let you input and save what you intend to work on in the productive session. So you have a record of what you have been doing and can see what you have achieved at a glance.

It’s much healthier than the gummy bear motivational technique.