Motivation culture has never been more popular than now. From moving books to inspiring bloggers, it feels like motivation is in the air. But is it possible to be active and pumped for success when it comes to education?
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- Your mental approach directly influences your academic productivity.
- Effective time management and discipline in removing distractions are crucial for focus.
- Each method has unique advantages and can be combined based on individual needs.
Burnouts at schools and colleges. Some students even joke that it’s part of their syllabus for the semester. However, jokes aside, is it possible to study long hours and still have the energy to do something else? If YouTubers have this superpower then where can mere students gain this skill?
Students always struggle with accommodating to the academic routine. So, they are on the lookout for useful hacks 24/7. One such person ended up in a predicament where they needed to study a lot but simply failed to do it. Being so desperate, they started asking peers for tips.
In reality, all these hidden secrets for success are on the surface. And frankly, they are rather simple.
Everything starts from your head. Ideas, fears, anxiety, or excitement. Subconsciously, you can send out wrong signals. Having the right mindset is essential for effective studying. One person shared this essential aspect based on personal experience:
“I’m not diagnosed with ADHD, but my brain likes to lose focus, get scattered, have no enthusiasm, and divert its attention to more interesting thoughts. So I work in the way my brain likes. I sort of tempt it with positive ideas about the material, continuously thinking about it without any of your typical stress, dread, or negative self-feedback for not being perfect. I actually get myself to the point where I’m excited to do the busywork.”
The solution to this is individual. Some feel the most productive in silence, while others need to have some soothing melody in their headphones. Like some user of the online community shared:
“The moment I hear melody beats in my headphones, my brain remembers: oh right, I should be doing my homework right now.”
“For me, upbeat melody does the trick. When I hear the beats I’m supper charged to work more effectively and time just flows by.”
In fact, listening to music has many advantages. From reducing stress to improving some aspects of memory, and cognitive function. All of this can help with concentration and focus when studying.
Effective time management helps you use your study energy economically. The Pomodoro Technique, which you pointed out, is a good tool. It allows for breaks, but it’s most effective when coupled with specific rules to prevent wasting energy. Pomodoro technique can be helpful with time management:
“Pomodoro technique helps a lot with long hours or procrastination. In case you’re not familiar Pomodoro is where you fully focus for 25 minutes and then take a 5 min break and repeat. I tend to adjust the times as needed. My typical Pomodoro is 50 mins with 10 min break. Do set timers and do take the breaks on time.”
Time management only works when you take breaks to recharge. Try to implement this timing activity in your studying routine and you can see some changes after a while.
Rules and Discipline
Being flexible is good. This gives you a feeling of freedom and that you are not trapping yourself. But remember that setting rules for yourself during study sessions can lead to more focused and efficient studying.
The most frequent distractions are an infamous trio: social media, phone, and fast food. Make everything possible not to focus your attention on popping notifications and social media notifications. To make temptation less obvious, put your phone on mute when studying. Ask your loved ones not to distract you for the next couple of hours.
Another temptation is food. Opt for healthy snacks, such as berries and fruits, nuts, or vegan snacks. A well-balanced diet is one of the best performance enhancers for well-being. Your body is your ultimate tool in the marathon that is studying:
“Wanted to add that eating the right foods help me study for longer and has the added bonus of increasing retention! I feel like I’m working out when I study like you mentioned and I found that eating small, more frequent meals with increased protein and omega3s help me keep going.”
Before sitting down to study find some spare time to organize everything on your desk and tidy up quickly. A study by the University of Arizona found that employees who work in a clean and organized environment are up to 15% more productive than those who work in a cluttered and messy environment.
Pomodoro vs. Deep Work
The quest for productivity in today’s distraction-rich environment often boils down to two popular methods: Deep Work and the Pomodoro Technique.
Deep Work, pioneered by Cal Newport, advocates for extended periods of focused, distraction-free work where you dive into complex tasks. It operates on the premise that your best work happens when you’re in a state of “deep work,” free from the mental clutter of “attention residue” from other tasks. Deep Work also comes with multiple approaches—Monastic, Bimodal, Rhythmic, and Journalistic—that vary in the duration and intensity of work intervals. This method demands disciplined scheduling and strategic breaks to maintain focus and avoid burnout.
On the other hand, the Pomodoro Technique, developed by Francesco Cirillo, is about breaking work into short, 25-minute sprints called “Pomodoros,” followed by five-minute breaks. After four Pomodoros, you’re rewarded with a longer break. This technique tackles the human tendency toward procrastination and waning attention by turning the act of focus into a manageable, game-like challenge. In Pomodoro, the timer becomes your ally, helping you to both track your productivity and remind you to take essential short breaks for mental rest.
Which approach is better? The answer is nuanced and varies based on your type of work, personal preferences, and the specific demands of your projects. Deep Work is particularly useful for tasks that require sustained attention and complex problem-solving skills, making it suitable for creatives, researchers, and leaders. The Pomodoro Technique, with its shorter, sharper work intervals, may be more suitable for more dynamic roles or tasks that can be broken down into smaller units. Some users from the online community shared their observations:
“I found out that breaking my concentration every 25 minutes or so when I start working is more counterproductive than helpful in the first two hours or so of work. They actually startled me, because I was deep deep into something and the alarm pulled me right back outside of my mind.”
“Deep work is about intensity of concentration, as I understand it. I try to focus on keeping each Pomodoro the same mental intensity, not the same length of time. Simply, not all tasks are equally mentally taxing.”
“The way I see it, Deep Work is focused more on working without distraction and fully focusing on whatever you are doing (which will decrease the time you need to finish a cognitively demanding task). The Pomodoro Technique is more of a time-management technique, making sure you don’t overextend your active work periods and preventing you from burning out.”
“I find that Deep Work is a lot about your surrounding environment, removing distractions to create a space for you to really get lost in your flow.”
Interestingly, these techniques can be complementary. You can use Pomodoro sessions as a “training ground” for cultivating the skills needed for deeper, more extended focus. Some people use Pomodoros within their deep work blocks, taking those five-minute breaks to contemplate what they’ve just accomplished rather than turning to distractions.
|📚 Cal Newport
|📘 Francesco Cirillo
|🎯 Long periods of focused work
|🏃 Short work sprints
|Duration of Work Interval
|⏳ 25 minutes
|🔄 Strategic, varies
|🔄 5 minutes, longer after 4 sprints
|👩🔬 Complex tasks
|🧩 Tasks that can be broken down
|📝 Monastic, Bimodal, Rhythmic, Journalistic
|🎨 Problem-solving, Research, Creativity
|🗂️ Fighting procrastination, Routine tasks
|🗓️ None or calendar
|👩💻 Higher, but varies
|Lower, generally 🧘♂️
|🎮 Timer adds a game-like challenge
|Compatibility with Other Methods
|🤝 Can incorporate elements of other methods
|🤝 Can be used within other methods like Deep Work
|👨🎨👩🔬👨💼 Creatives, Researchers, Leaders
|👨💻👩🏭 More dynamic roles, or those with smaller task units
Your optimal productivity style might even involve a blend of both techniques, customized to fit your own work rhythms and personal quirks. For instance, you could reserve your mornings for deep work sessions for tackling complex tasks and employ Pomodoro sprints in the afternoon for more routine duties. What matters is that you find a system that allows you to perform at your peak while still having time to enjoy a fulfilling life outside of work. Ultimately, the best productivity technique is the one that helps you meet your goals while also aligning with your lifestyle and well-being.
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