Success in college is becoming increasingly more important. In the era of rapidly developing technology and a growing demand for qualified labor, you are almost guaranteed to go to college. Education is not easy, regardless of your major. Thinking deep about the subject is crucial in coping with this challenging enterprise.
It is very easy to become distracted in the age of instant communication and freely accessible entertainment. However, if you want to score high and graduate eventually, it is critical that you avoid those as much as possible.
Here I am not talking about becoming a workaholic recluse. Everybody needs to relax once in a while, and talking to smart people can boost your creativity and ingenuity. However, working deep is an integral part of college education that you need to cultivate to be one of the best students.
Batch Your Activities
It is better to focus on one thing at a time, or a couple things of a similar field and value. If you try mixing many miscellaneous activities, you are likely to accomplish neither. It is crucial to eschew this sudden change as it disrupts your deep thinking process.
For instance, if you need to write an article and reply to an e-mail, you do one after the other. It is proven by scientists that humans need time to regain concentration. If you are going to switch your attention focus too often, you are going to waste a lot of that precious time that could be otherwise spent in a deep thinking mode.
Moreover, even a minor activity not related to a task at hand can utterly derail your attention span. Even if you think it is harmless and is only going to take you a couple minutes, your brain will still be hurt. If you want to maintain a high efficiency, you need to batch your activities properly, not letting outside distractions wipe out your progress.
Force Your Brain
Very often students would brag about how much time they spent on their homework or test preparation. It is also common for them to be bewildered by their poor results, even though they studied so hard. I bet you had a similar experience. Here is the reason why.
It has long been affirmed that not the time, but the intensity of your studies matters the most. You need to really force your brain in order to perceive the information deeply and ingrain it in your memory. If you are just going to read the textbook or look through your notes, without musing about the material, you are not going to make it a natural part of your knowledge database.
It is true that forcing your brain can result in quick fatigue and even a headache. However, the more you strain your brain, the more muscular and capable it becomes. You do not just want to jog. College is an excruciating marathon that only the most trained can accomplish.
Smooth out Your Transitions
I have already mentioned the importance of batching your activities. However, throughout the day it is almost impossible to do just one activity. Maybe, for some it is a viable option, like for writers or scholars working on their thesis. However, most people have to learn to transition between various projects smoothly.
The problem with this change is the attention residue that haunts even the most dedicated deep thinkers. That is a phenomenon when a person keeps brooding about the previous task, even though they have already started a new one. Part of your attention focus does not want to pull away from whatever you were doing before and prevents you from immersing into a new activity.
In order to sidestep attention residue, you will need to organize your transitions in a smart manner. It makes sense to have a 5-15 minute break between the two assignments. Moreover, you can invent some magical word or a meaningful ritual that will help your brain naturalize the transition process.
Think of Everything
Before even starting your deep thinking work, it is obligatory that you organize everything. Your plan must include even mundane things like when you plan to make coffee or at what time and what exactly you are going to eat. This will ensure that you do not have to displace your focus from the main activity onto the daily trivialities.
Make sure you have all materials at hand. There is nothing more frustrating than having to shuffle through a billion papers or folders on your computer to dig out the necessary article, book or whatever. It is extremely difficult to restore your attention level afterwards.
Think of the time and the place where you are going to work. Choose a quiet environment where you are less likely to get distracted by others. Determining the time span of your work is going to bolster your productivity because nothing inspires to think deeper and work harder than a looming deadline.
Set Your Priorities
It seems a bit banal and obvious, but it is directly correlated not only to doing things at the right time, but also doing the right things. Very often people have their priorities imposed on them by society, and they do not even notice that. You need to be mindful of your activities.
For example, if you have an assignment to complete and an e-mail about your group project to answer, you will tempted to quickly reply to the e-mail. However, it is going to be detrimental for your homework, as even the slightest distraction undermines your deep thinking ability.
Even if you feel the peer pressure to be responsive at the moment’s notice, you need to ask yourself what is more important – writing a good paper or trying not to offend your friends. Of course, it is essential to be reliable and trustworthy, but you need to learn to respect your work ethic and let others be aware of it.
Do not Overwork Yourself
Many scientists claim that people can stay focused intently only for 3-4 hours a day. Trying to prolong the deep thinking process is counterproductive as it can subvert your ability to reason and derive meaningful conclusions.
I have already mentioned the importance of establishing a concrete time span of your focused activity. I want in this regard also to stress the significance of setting the shutdown time. If you work above this limit, you are not going to be effective the next day.
Overworking leads to burnouts that require more time for rehabilitation. The rule is that the less and more intense you work, the more you manage. Your brain is a fragile mechanism that needs to be rested frequently. Do not break it by pushing too hard.
Hopefully these tips will help you not only throughout college, but also in life. Education does not stop with obtaining a degree. The world is developing so rapidly that the ability to learn new things fast and efficiently is a mandatory prerequisite of your future success in career as well as in ordinary life.
Do not be afraid to strain yourself to think deeply, but at the same time, let it go if you need a rest. Deep thinking is a skill that requires time and effort to master. I believe this advice will serve you well in achieving anything you put your mind to.