Tag Archives: focus

Few would dispute the smartphone’s place as one of the true marvels of the modern world. These miracle machines combine instant, on-the-go connectivity with immediate access to the larger part of the sum of accumulated human knowledge. No wonder we take our phones everywhere, even those places nobody wants you to answer their calls. But in those moments when you wonder, “Is there anything my smartphone can’t do?” we can identify at least one very important shortcoming: your smartphone can’t help you study. Sure, you can access the web on your phone to look up important information or new vocabulary words. You can even use its timer to implement Pomodoro Technique-style planned breaks. But for all the time these phone functions might save you, the device itself may cost you much, much more. The key to getting more done in any area of your life is FOCUS. When we focus…

Read more

Anyone who has ever sat down to take a four-hour standardized exam knows all too well that testing is not just an intellectual exercise. Exams like the SAT and ACT are grueling physical and psychological ordeals. If you want your best test scores, you can’t just focus on learning test content: you must also strengthen your body and mind. Any process that demands commitment over time for true improvement runs on willpower. When your will is strong, you make time to meet with your tutor, to improve your vocabulary every day, and to sit for high-quality practice tests. When your will is strong, you can focus on the task in front of you to derive the most experiential value. And, of course, when your will is strong, you can bring your best to every question on a standardized test, no matter how bored, distracted, or tired you are. So how…

Read more

Is there anyone who can’t relate to that sublime moment of artistic reverie triggered by a particularly boring lecture? I did a lot of my best artwork during high school and college in the margins of notebooks. But just as universal as doodling during instruction might be, so is the experience of having a teacher shut the artistic process down. Classroom doodling has been perceived as both disrespectful to speakers and deleterious to listeners. But is doodling in class really so bad? Some research suggests otherwise. A small study conducted at the University of Plymouth, UK asked participants to monitor a monotonous phone message regarding the names of people coming to a party. The subjects were split into doodlers and non-doodlers. Surprisingly, the doodling group recalled 29% more information about the message on a surprise memory test. Multitasking generally impedes learning, productivity, and performance. However, exceptions can be made in…

Read more

Big tests challenge us on levels that extend far beyond sheer knowledge or academic prowess. Marathon exams like the SAT and ACT also test endurance, commitment, and focus. How we score, then, reflects how carefully we cultivate the physical and psychological drivers of peak performance. Focus matters as much as any other attribute. If you cannot focus, you cannot bring your best; if you cannot bring your best, you cannot do your best. Simple, really, but focus tends to fall by the wayside in deference to more concrete skills. Focus can be divided into two different yet equally important traits: mindfulness and concentration. Bhante Henepola Gunaratana elucidates the essential distinctions in the book Mindfulness in Plain English: Concentration and mindfulness are distinctly different functions. They each have their role to play in meditation, and the relationship between them is definite and delicate. Concentration is often called one-pointedness of mind. It…

Read more

It is said that the length of a minute is not absolute, but depends on which side of the bathroom door you’re on. Find ways to make those long moments work for rather than against you with our 12 Days of Time Management for Teens:   Only Take Planned Breaks Do ripe, red, juicy tomatoes inspire you to get to work? If so, you’ve probably already heard of the Pomodoro Technique, a time management method developed by an inspired individual named Francesco Cirillo. He discovered that focused bursts of uninterrupted activity interspersed with brief planned breaks produced an optimized work flow. Cirillo named his technique not out of any serious love for Solanum lycopersicum but rather for the tomato-shaped kitchen timer he used as a college student. The Pomodoro Technique is rather simple to understand and implement. Determine which task you are going to tackle and decide how long each…

Read more

Have you ever experienced one or more of these symptoms? No spontaneous thought An intensified, fixed, internalized awareness An expansion of especially clear awareness into ambient space The disappearance of the bodily self A distinctive closing off of all sight and sound A deep, blissful serenity A marked slowing or cessation of respiration Don’t worry: you weren’t abducted by aliens (I hope).  Instead, you attained that elusive and magical state of flow that only comes from total absorption. Some associate this state with the deep internal absorption that comes from skilled meditation. Others refer to it as the Coder’s High. But you don’t need to live in Tibet or work in Silicon Valley to find this bliss. The flow state finds us when we are fully absorbed in accomplishing a complex and worthy task. Great works of art may be immersive but not truly absorbing unless we’re creating them. The flow state is…

Read more

12/12