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43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

Concentration strategies for students

Here's a wonderful tour de force on Concentration that's written for students and which includes tips on identifying distractions as well as a useful list of techniques for putting your attention where you want it to be and keeping it there.

A few I liked:

  • At the beginning of a study period, spend a few minutes to calm and relax your mind and body. (Try 'Focus on Your Breath' exercise, below.)...
  • Do not tell yourself off or tell yourself to concentrate. When you are thinking about not concentrating, you are not concentrating....
  • If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by all the things you have to do in your life, remember that you can only do one thing at a time...

We have lots more here on battling distraction, including this excellent essay on "good" distractions by Paul Ford.

dineshshah's picture

State your objective

I find spending a few moments thinking and stating to yourself clearly what you want out of study/work session to be useful (on the rare occasion I actually have the discipline to do it). If you aren't clear about your intent it's easy to wander off without focus and not meet your objective.

For example, you might say to yourself, "In the next 2 hours want to develop a good conceptual understanding of threading in Ruby". It should be tight and focused. Something like, "I want to learn some more about Ruby" is less useful.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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