Did you know the way you write down a task can determine whether it will get done? Our tutors in San Marino and La Cañada often meet students who feel overwhelmed by their to-do lists. Specifically, these students are seeking ways to avoid becoming distracted while studying.
It’s easy to let your mind wander in today’s fast-paced world, but there are some simple strategies you can use to stay focused and use your time efficiently.
When you’re writing your “to-do” list today, be sure not to include clumped tasks. Ask yourself, “Is this task specific enough?” If you add “write research paper” to your to-do list, you’re clumping many tasks together into one, which can be overwhelming and make it impossible or at least very difficult to estimate how long that should take you to do.
Instead, try breaking down this task into its components. For example, try “research topics for research paper” or “write first draft of introduction for research paper.” Instead of “study for history test,” try “review pages 45-60 in history book.” Get the idea?
Once you have a your to-do list ready with specific tasks you would like to accomplish (3 to 5 tasks max!), try our Stepping Stones Super Study Session plan:
- Choose one item on your task list. Only choose ONE thing. Pick the thing that you will make you feel most accomplished if you get it done. If there is something that you’ve been moving from one day’s list to the next and then the next… that is the one to start with! You’re going to feel great to get that item marked off the list.
- Determine the length of time you will be working uninterrupted. Choose a time between 15 minutes and 60 minutes. This goal should be long enough for you to finish your One Thing but not longer than one hour.
- Go “off the grid.” Put your phone on airplane mode, disable app notifications, log out of all social media sites, and let people around you know that you will be unavailable for the length of your Super Study Session.
- Prepare your space. Create a great Super Study Session environment by grabbing snacks, water — anything you will want next to you.
- Use a timer. Set it for the pre-determined amount of time and work on your one task using active learning strategies.
- Train yourself, don’t trick yourself. If you get distracted from that One Thing, recognize that you got distracted and move back to your task. If you have consciously switched tasks at all, reset your timer and start over again. This is training… you are training yourself to work on one focused task at a time. It will take some practice!
- When your timer goes off, it is time for a break and a happy dance! Take a five-minute break and start the process again. We recommend staying away from social media sites during your break. Take five minutes to stretch, refresh your snacks and water, and then set your timer again!
We would love to know how this strategy works for you. Leave us a comment on this blog post!