Time Warner was funky today so after arriving at the CC offices we were promptly told to go the eff back home and work because there was no internet. As soon as I got through the door I fantasized about all the things I could bake while working, exercising during my lunch break and washing my hair. I had to bring my brain back to Earth because—hello we were an hour into the day and the site had not been updated!
It’s so easy to get distracted when you aren’t confined to a classroom or office and have to get work done. I am one of those people who can’t multitask very well, I can’t listen to music and read a book or browse Facebook then come back to an essay or article. I am a one thing at a time kind of person otherwise my brain goes berserk and I end up doing nothing.
Here are some tips I picked up, while in college and as a freelancer before I got a 9 to 5 at CC, on how to stay focused and manage time when you’re not in an environment conducive to getting work done.
Loneliness Is Key
#Sad. I know. The truth is that you’ll probably get more work done alone than in a group. I know, I know some of you have excellent study groups and yes, learning is social that’s why we do it in a classroom with our peers, yet, it’s much easier to be tempted to get off track when you are working with others. All it takes is one person to be like, “Screw this, I’m watching twerk videos,” and then the entire group is doing that and that little voice in your head that doesn’t want to be studying follows suit.
If the kind of work you are doing doesn’t require another set of hands, eyes or a brain then find a nice nook for you to work alone where you won’t be tempted by twerk videos.
Environment And Ambience Are Everything
I am sensitive to sound which is why I can’t function when I listen to music. If it’s a song I like, I am singing the words to Britney Spears instead of focusing on my studies. If I am in a crowded coffee shop I begin to eavesdrop on nearby conversations. If I was in a common room with roommates or, now, in my apartment with roommates, I will just get distracted by the hustle and bustle. However, there are some people who think and thrive better in these kinds of atmospheres. Figure out what kind of environment gets your brain buzzing and focused and reserve working or studying for that location. After all, if you go anywhere else you probably won’t get anything done anyway.
In college I didn’t care for the library much because it was so crowded it didn’t feel especially quiet or personal there so I’d find an empty classroom (your brain is convinced that’s a place to learn already!), a bar during the day (there’s nobody in there and the music is usually low) or go to the park.
Plug Out If You Can
If you don’t need the internet do not use it. Turn your WIFI off! Don’t bring your laptop. You know what I am talking about. The internet is a tempting bitch goddess who will seduce you with cat GIFs and status updates from your ex. Do not humor the internet. You’ll become so focused on not studying and checking Twitter every 5 seconds that an hours work will add up to about 15 minutes of productivity.
When I time myself I get more done. When I tell myself that I am going to work on something for an hour then I feel more pressured to focus for an hour, whereas if I had planned to study without any time frame I would feel like I had all the time in the world and completely squander it. If you have a paper due in two weeks work on it for an hour or two a day. If you want to knock out some emails dedicate an hour to just that. Complete one task at a time for a certain amount of time and you’ll feel less scatter brained and get more done.
Time Your Breaks
Just like you schedule work in, schedule your breaks in. Go get lunch with a friend for an hour, go to the gym, do whatever it is you have to do for a scheduled amount of time and then come back to your textbook. If you try to cram everything into your brain without any breaks, you’re going to stress yourself out and your mind isn’t going to be able to process all of that information anyway. It’s important to decompress, let that info simmer and then come back to it when you’re ready.
[Shutter Stock / milosljubicic ]