- Be honest with me here.
When you study or get work done,
how good are you at focusing on that work?
And by that I mean how susceptible are you
to distractions that pop up or the temptation to multitask?
This is a really important question to ask yourself
because a lack of focus, a lack of the ability
to concentrate is one of the best ways
to waste a lot of the time you dedicate to studying.
That's because when you get pulled away
from your main task into a distraction
or some other task, you're not just wasting
the time that it takes to get that distraction done with.
There's also something called a cognitive
switching penalty, and as Josh Kaufman points out
in his book The Personal MBA,
which I highly recommend, by the way,
"In order to take action, your brain has to load
the context of what you're doing into working memory.
If you constantly switch the focus of your attention,
you're forcing your brain to spend time and effort
thrashing, loading and reloading contexts
over and over again.
That's why it's possible to spend an entire day
multitasking, getting nothing done,
and feel exhausted at the end.
You've burned all of your energy context switching
instead of making progress."
This is why it's so important to build
the ability to focus.
If you can do that, you're going to eliminate
a lot of these potential cognitive switching
penalties you could have incurred from your day,
and that means you're going to be able
to pack your work into a more concentrated,
shorter amount of time, and get more done.
So in this video, I'm gonna give you five
quick ways that you can start building the ability
to focus and concentrate on the task at hand.
The first one is called pre-commitment.
Pre-committing to a task is simply building
some sort of device that binds you to finishing it
before you actually get started, and to do this
you can use what are used commitment devices.
It's why I use Beeminder to ensure that I create
two things every week on my website.
If you have some way of making sure
there's a consequence for not getting your work done,
you're gonna be more motivated to stay focused on that work.
This can be as simple as writing down
that you're going to get X done in 30 minutes,
and if you don't finish within 30 minutes,
you know that you've failed.
You've externalized that goal by writing it down,
and now that you've failed it, you're gonna feel bad.
You could even do something crazy like
hiring a lady off Craigslist to slap you in the face
like Maneesh Sethi did,
or you could stay within the realm of sanity.
That's cool too.
You can also pre-commit to one task
by eliminating your ability to do anything else
during that time.
This is often called the burnt ships technique
and it's in reference to an inaccurate
but still compelling story about Hernán Cortés
telling his men to burn their ships
before they attack the Aztecs.
The motivation for doing this would have been
to keep his men focused on the task
because they had no other option.
They couldn't go back.
Now you probably don't have an actual boat to burn
of your own, and even if you did,
it probably wouldn't help you get your homework done,
but you can take inspiration from this idea
by removing the ability to do other things
while you're focused on a task.
One way you can do this is by blocking
distracting websites on your computer
using an extension like StayFocusd
or a program like FocalFilter.
You could even entirely disconnect the internet
if you didn't need it.
Tip number two is to have a distraction sheet
next to you while you work.
Now I talked to you about this before
as an addition to the Pomodoro Technique,
but whether or not you're pre-committing
using that technique or just studying in a different way,
having a piece of paper next to you
where you write down what's distracting you
helps you get back into your work
because you know you've made a reminder
of that distraction, you can get back to it later
if it's important, but you're externalizing it.
You're pulling it out of your brain
and you're allowing your brain to get back
to the task at hand.
Tip number three is to try out an app called Forest,
which is available for both iPhones and Android devices.
Forest is an app that tries to help make
your smartphone less of a distraction,
and it does this by letting you plant a seed
and then if you don't touch your phone for 30 minutes,
it grows into a tree.
If you do touch your phone, it kills the tree
and you failed that session.
Now I can see it already, people in the comments
saying that you could just turn off your phone
or leave it in a different room,
and that does work,
but the thing that Forest does is it provides
an instant reward the minute you finish a 30-minute session.
Getting immediate tangible and quantifiable
results for something is a great way
to build good habits.
If you're just turning off your phone
and putting it in the other room,
you may not see those immediate tangible benefits,
but if you get a nice cool tree on your phone
if you don't touch it for 30 minutes,
then that's a nice thing you can look at.
So, if turning your phone off works for you,
that's cool, but if it doesn't, try the app out.
Tip number four is to meditate once a day.
I've been doing this for a few months now,
and honestly, I just do it for three minutes
in the morning, and I try to focus on my breath.
Now, the idea behind this is your attention
is like any other muscle in your body.
As you train it, it gets stronger,
and your ability to focus increases.
I've found that just trying to focus on my breath
for three minutes a day has increased by ability
to stay focused on other tasks, like reading or writing.
Now, an important thing to note with meditation
is that your attention will wonder, and that's okay.
The act of noticing that your attention has wondered
and that you've started daydreaming,
and then bringing that attention back
to your initial point of focus is what helps
build that attention muscle.
My fifth and final tip is to eliminate
potential distractions while you're studying.
Now when I talked to you about pre-committing earlier,
I talked about the burnt ships technique,
and that's focused on eliminating your ability
to distract yourself, but there are also
a lot of distractions that can happen to you,
people coming in and asking you to do things,
and if you can eliminate the potential
for these to happen, you're going to have
an easier time focusing,
so pay attention to any potential source
of distractions before you study.
This could be something that can pop a notification up,
like your phone or something on your computer,
or just being in a specific location
where your friends are likely to find you.
I actually have a whole section on eliminating
distractions in my book on earning better grades,
which is free.
So if you wanna get more tips in this area,
then you can click the card there,
or the link in the description, and grab the book.
So, those are my five tips this week
for helping you build concentration
and your ability to focus.
Hopefully you found this helpful,
and I wanna leave you with a quote
from the Roman poet, Horace, who said,
"Rule your mind, or it will rule you."
Now, if your internal ability to rule your mind
and stay focused right now isn't as strong
as you'd like it to be, that's okay.
Work on building it, but also take advantage
of the external systems and tools we have
to help you out.
That could be using apps and extensions
like Forest and StayFocusd,
hiring some lady off Craigslist to slap you in the face,
or just asking a friend
to keep tabs on you while you're studying.
Anyway, I hope you found this video useful.
Thanks for watching, and I will see you next week.
Hey guys, thanks so much for watching my video
on how to build more focus and concentration.
If you wanna get new videos every single week
on being a more effective student,
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I also wrote a book on how to get better grades,
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in this video, then go to the companion blog post
by clicking the orange logo right there.
If you missed last week's video,
there's a clip of it playing right there,
so definitely check it out,
and if you wanna suggest topics
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