Strategies to Increase Focus in Work and Learning Part 2 by LawCrossing


Handling distractions and increasing focus in effective and simple ways for law students.

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Strategies to Increase Focus in Work and Learning Part 2

In the first part of this series, we had discussed building comfort zones and creating environmental and physical
conditions conducive for increasing concentration and focus, in this part we would be dealing with creating
the mindset and handling distractions. Constant distractions are a part of modern-day living. iPhones, iPads,
continuous internet browsing, emails, instant messages and keeping up with social activities at the press of a
button is commonplace and hurts our abilities to concentrate and focus on high-priority tasks. Doctors have a
name for this syndrome – the ADT or Attention Deficit Trait. Entire student societies, organizations and companies
can suffer from ADT. To bring attention deficit under control and channel your concentration to the task at hand,
the simple tips in this article would help you enormously.

Schedule your worries:                                           worries or concerns is necessary. Even though they
                                                                 are ‘persistent’ you should not let them pursue you
Well we know that may sound funny, because causes of             everywhere and at all times.
worries are unscheduled. However, there are different
kinds of worries – instant and persistent. Instant               Prioritize the tasks that demand your attention:
worries like that before your examination or before a
public performance need to be handled instantly, of              Prioritization is the master key to time and effort
course. However, there are persistent worries like ‘how          management. As a law student, most of the time you’d
to get a job,’ ‘where to find the money for tomorrow,’           be feeling that you have too much to do and too little
‘how to bring back friendship with Joe,’ and so on and           time to do it. But you are not in a unique situation.
so forth.                                                        First, realize that. Then find out how to prioritize
                                                                 between your tasks, write them down in a list, and
Persistent worries eat into a big chunk of our time              sometimes it’s helpful to create a list at night for the
and keep intruding on our efforts to focus our minds.            next day. Sometimes, students move at high-speed
Sometimes, instant worries become persistent. If a               from one task to another creating the impression of
friend has an accident it is cause of instant worry, after       doing a lot when in actuality achieving little. Be aware
s/he is into medical care then his/her recovery can              of this common failing, create a ‘to-do’ list, prioritize
become a persistent worry. What we want to stress                according to two perspectives – first delivery schedule
is that schedule routine times and set them aside to             of the work and then the eighty-twenty principle, that
address persistent worries, so that when they try to             is which important tasks can be finished with the least
intrude upon your thought you can send them away by              effort and time – do them first and reduce the backlog.
telling yourself, ‘I will think of these at their appointed
time.’                                                           Work Sequentially:

Since you set an ‘appointed time’ for considering                Take up one task at a time. Multi-tasking does not
those causes of concern, it frees your conscience                mean driving and texting at the same time, but
to focus on the task at hand and helps to learn and              completing tasks of radically different nature within the
concentrate your attention. This is why, including               same time-frame. That does not mean doing them at
a time for addressing or thinking about ‘persistent’             the same time. Within a time-frame, you still need to

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prioritize your tasks and focus on doing one task at a          Schedule socialization:
time, according to a prioritized sequence.
                                                                This, for a student, may be difficult at first, but if you
Fix priorities and alternate between low and high               set up a routine and that becomes known, after some
attention demanding tasks:                                      time your peers would come to accept that you are
                                                                available only at certain times for interaction and not
Between learning tasks that demand attention, it is             always. It would help you throughout your career to set
possible to set and define priorities according to needs        aside fixed times for socialization and let your social
and also possible to distinguish them into groups               circle be aware of that. Texting, emailing, browsing,
of relatively lower and higher attention demanding              and chatting throughout the day creates breaks in
tasks. Switching between sessions of high-attention-            focus and waste of time that is impossible to retrieve
demanding and low-attention-demanding tasks can                 and can damage your career irretrievably.
provide a rhythm of alternating levels of stress that
can help you to evenly spread your efforts over time-           Remember, that to use any strategy effectively, you
periods within manageable levels. Keeping at high-              need to personalize them and apply them to your
attention-demanding tasks at a stretch may result               situation according to your own instant conditions. The
in inferior results than allowing short breaks of low-          guidance in these articles are guidance that is true in
attention-demanding tasks in between sessions that              most cases, but are not incontrovertible universal rules
require higher focus and concentration.                         that cannot be bent to fit one’s own situation. That
                                                                is what we expect you to do to get ahead with your
                                                                career, and not accept guidance without applying your
                                                                own mind.


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