by Antonio Anson
We often know we have a pending task, but we fail to concentrate. It is the moment when anything is entertaining, when any buzz, beep or tune from our phone is irresistible. That moment is when your will to do the right thing is truly tested.
As a tribute to all those who strive to study alone at home or wherever, I invite you to explore these simple rules to concentrate, improve your personal productivity and achieve your life goals.
1. Go ahead, make your own program.
If you want to get ahead, you should spend some time calmly assessing how to study the material. Take some time to understand how much effort it may require. Compare it with your available time. Be realistic when you calculate the time you will spend when you make your schedule. Every day before starting, you should convert the general task into specific tasks for the day, in a timely and realistic way.
Establishing a work program will save you time and energy when making decisions. It also helps you decide if your time could not be better spent on something else. Having a program is like having a permanently available overview of what you are doing.
2. Create your own sense of urgency.
Nothing is worse than having the feeling that we have a lot of time to do something. That is never true when it comes to acquiring new knowledge. This time is limited and valuable. If you begin to listen to your internal clock, you will feel the call for action.
All of this help you deal with completing your study program while not neglecting your life. When you understand this, you can see that you must spend your limited time judiciously, because there are many other interesting things you want to do.
3. You must be tied to the mainmast.
Ulysses did not hesitate to be tied to the mainmast to overcome the sirens’ songs. In your case, you do not need to be physically bound to the chair, but you must have a place to study. Conquering this will make things easier. It will become part of the study habit.
4. Organize your tasks.
Divide the work into concrete tasks to perform during the day. Do not forget the slogan of divide and rule. Thus, mental resistance decreases: You will face a short list of tasks for today, not the endless list of good wishes for this year.
Identify which of these tasks are harder and which cost you less effort. Do not forget small issues. Separate them, they have to be done, but they are a distraction and a thief of time from your main task.
5. First, the most difficult one!
Do not hesitate. Early morning, when you are energetic, that is the moment to face the most difficult tasks. It is time to make a way in a jungle of concepts. Other routine tasks should be left for other times.
The beginning of your study period, whenever that may be, is the best time to address your most difficult tasks.
6. Fill the gaps.
If you want to gain time, you have to learn how to identify the gaps that are created throughout the day. Proper classification of your tasks allows you to use those few spaces for routine tasks of filing, copying or sending e-emails. Check your list: You must reserve a time for small tasks.
7. Challenge yourself.
Think of your study program as a challenging game. If you act with absolute concentration, you can see the big potential to improve your records. Do not think of the whole agenda, but only about today’s tasks.
Setting intermediate marks is good. «I have to get there in 30 minutes.» Introducing new techniques to memorize difficult study aspects or those inevitable lists is fun and challenging.
8. Avoid distractions.
Controlling the passage of time is very important for concentration. If you measure your progress, assigning a reasonable time to achieve it, it will produce two effects: (i) the time will pass quickly; and (ii) you will achieve your goals.
Avoiding distractions is essential: removing your devices and sound applications. If you use a laptop or a tablet, shut down all unnecessary applications.
9. Surround yourself with things that make you feel good.
We are doing what we should, but do we feel good? At this point let’s not deceive ourselves. We feel good when we have made it, but while we are working it is difficult for us to perceive it. For this reason, surrounding yourself with small things you like (the TV does not count 😉 ) brings comfort while helping to conquer your space and sends you a message that all is well.
10. Rest well.
One common error is triying to make up for lost time when you are trying to complete planned tasks. Do not habitually extend the period of study. It will only assuage your conscience. Stop and learn from your mistakes.
11. Establish rewards.
The realization of planned tasks is always worth a reward. Therefore, the best reward is time for ourselves. If you gain time because your productivity is increasing, give yourself your reward. «I will move faster. If I do it, I’ll finish earlier.»
12. Measure your progress.
This is your last task of the day. Before leaving the ship, you should open the notebook where you planned your tasks for today. Do not hesitate to calmy review your plans. If you detect any problems be sure to correct them.
Whatever your task, you need to value your work and leisure time. Planning is the first step. It is nothing strange or complicated. Most of us make a shopping list. We should extend this practice to the main activities of our lives. That’s all.
Self-disclosure: I must admit that in order to make this post, the task had to be included in my program during «free» time. In addition, I applied rules 6, 7 and 8: I prepared the post in gaps that were created throughout the day, I saw it as a challenge, and I avoided distractions silencing the phone and tablet.