At the moment it’s fair to say I have a lot on my plate. I have a full time job, I’m studying for a diploma, writing and keeping up with family and friends. The latter group have very much fallen by the wayside but hopefully they will forgive me in the summer when it quietens down a bit. But the point to make is that my mind is a very cluttered place at the moment. This was brought home rather harshly when I recently wasted a day in the library.
I’d planned a successful day, so I thought. I’d highlighted some books I wanted to look at; although it was a bit early to start on the assignment I had, I wanted to make a start. When you’re studying outside work, every spare minute becomes precious. But I decided in my infinite wisdom to prepare for my study session by listening to a podcast about writing. Not good. The podcast was great but it meant I arrived at the library buzzing with ideas…about writing. My brain was not ready for academic reading or writing. So I couldn’t make sense of what I was doing or, I should say, trying to do.
What I’ve established is that I need several frames of mind. I can slip into work mode quite easily, but clearly the brain clutter means that I need more preparation for study and for writing to get me into the right mindset.
So, how do I do that? For writing it’s fairly easy. Let my brain wander, think about what I’m going to write, listen to a writing podcast and I’m away. Study is harder as it requires a different, more difficult, type of focus. Writing is much easier when you’re making it up! Academic reading and writing take a lot of brain work and almost need a meditative state where you block everything else out. I can do this very effectively with writing but studying is much harder.
So the lesson to be learned is that, like a child putting away its toys, I have to put the thoughts away in their individual silos. Mixing up the bits just doesn’t work and it affects my productivity. To get the most out of the limited studying time I have, my focus needs to be on full beam as soon as the session starts.
This means fighting my instinct to try to do everything at once and instead set myself priorities. On a study day, I do nothing other than study. Hopefully that will stop the pieces of the puzzle getting mixed up and will mean I can make the most of the time I have.