Browser addons can help avoid distractions
I find that I am easily distracted with semi-productive sites on the Internet. I like Reddit for lots of reasons, but one of my favorites is that I can restrict the subreddits that get displayed to me. I have subreddits like /r/hardscience and /r/chemistry on my front page. While this is great, it tends to lead to my reading Reddit when I have other priorities that I know are higher. I found that the firefox add-on called Leechblock helps me focus. There are more, similar plugins for other browsers.
Separate Decisions from Actions
David over at Raptitude talked about separating decisions from actions. I loved this. He has written very insightful pieces about procrastination. Any course of action is harder if you allow yourself to second guess it while also trying to do it. David uses the example of pushups. He wanted to do pushups every morning. That is a very simple decision without a lot of room for self-doubt or questioning. When willpower is at its weakest, those internal lazy voices start saying “are pushups really the right thing? Maybe sit-ups or a run would be better.” If you allow those questions, you will fail to do the job of pushups every morning. Separating the decision-making from the action can help accomplish the goal.
Quiet discusses in depth the role that introverts can play in business.
I have been thinking about how that might apply to college students. I worried in my last blog entry that perhaps a entrepreneurship oriented economy might disadvantage introverts. This may be true in some cases. Nonetheless, the book goes to great lengths to highlight the skills and inclinations that introverts bring to the table can be very valuable in business. Susan Cain discusses the advantages of introversion like sensitivity, firmness, preparedness. These things can work out just fine in college.
Pink Noise is like a “warmer” form of static
Our brains quickly learn to ignore it, but it saturates the auditory system and makes it easy to tune out other noises. I find that when I am stressed, I need a quiet environment without distraction to study effectively. This is a tip that works about as effectively as any earplugs or noise-canceling headphones.
A list of Mind Mapping Instructional Videos
I find that the most effective studying uses 3 phases: 1. exposure, 2. incubation, and 3. reiteration. Your brain wasn’t designed for cramming. Like it or not, repeated exposure make things feel important and memorable. It seems boring, but I do not think that there is a good way around it. You can take notes as an outline or mind map. Once you have your notes on paper, let them sit for at least a few hours. Then copy them along with diagrams and reference from the textbook into your own bound notebook. There are a lot of interesting videos about Mind Mapping on Youtube. I have posted a few here.
Slate Thinks Students Should Focus Harder
This is a travel week, my dear readers. I’ll be back in full force on Monday. For today, I would like to share this Slate.com article about how students need to learn to focus.
Taking Short and Long Breaks Effectively
The Pomodoro technique is named because it uses a 25 minute timer. The original timer looked like a little tomato (Italian for tomato is Pomodoro). Your timer doesn’t have to look like a tomato. The point is that you set your timer for 25 minutes, then take a five-minute break. Effective five-minute breaks work when you do absolutely nothing. The point is to let your brain relax. Stare out a window. Stare at a wall. Just sit quietly. At the end of five minutes you will be very bored and want to get back to work.