Sunday, February 5, 2012

Day 7: School Work

(Disclaimer: This one is off topic and early because I have to get homework done and need to not come back here for at least the next day or so.)

As the Queen of ADD and a pro procrastinator, but also a student who feels like anything less than a B is failing (if it can’t transfer, it’s not good enough), I feel pretty qualified to write this. What is “this”? you may ask. This is a selection of tips I have for anyone who wants to get school work (or regular work for that matter) but struggles to focus for more than 5 minutes unless it’s due in 3.

1. Clean your work area. This may seem like it takes away from that valuable time that you could be working, but really “could” is the operative word here. You won’t be working, you’ll be thinking “wow, this is a mess…” or “I wonder if that gum is still good?” or “I forgot to pay that bill that’s due next week, I should pay that now.” No. You should not be paying the bill that can wait until tomorrow. You should be writing your paper that’s due sooner. So take everything off the desk and put it somewhere: in a box, in a drawer, whatever. Deal with the mess later, just get it out of the work space. This is a five minute job tops and will help you focus the rest of the time.

2. Do not turn on your favorite Kelly Clarkson music while trying to write. If you’re like me and get distracted by silence, turn on something instrumental. I recommend Explosions in the Sky. If you’re singing along to actual words of a song, no matter how well you know them, you’re not paying attention to what you should be thinking about. Listening to instrumental music, however, can calm the ADD part of the brain and allow the rest of your mind to do what needs to be done. (Yes, there is science about this, no I don’t remember where I read about it.)

3. Lock the cat out of the bedroom. Even if she cries for a little while, at least she’s not messing with the printer or chasing your hands while you’re trying to type as fast as you can think up the ideas. This only applies if you have a poorly behaved cat, of course. If yours can sleep quietly on the bed while you do your work, let her in. Mine is a brat.

4. Do as much work away from the computer as possible!! If you have to do research online, do it and then print it out so you can get away from the damn Jenna Marbles video on YouTube calling your name. Writing down ideas on actual paper also stimulates the brain and helps ideas to flow better than typing.

5. Which brings us to the next point (really only applicable for writing work): just write something! If you don’t know how to respond to the prompt, just write ideas. Scribble them down, draw a doodle of an idea, anything. This gets the brain flowing (this is called brainstorming, but, sadly, I don’t think they teach it in school anymore). Try to stay close to the topic at hand. If you find yourself wandering in your mind, try to find a connection (any connection) and wander back to the prompt you started with. I find some of my best ideas after wandering to something else.

6. Don’t wander too far. If something is truly taking your attention away, deal with it. If you’re hungry, eat something (do not go cook a gourmet meal, but deal with the hunger). If you need a fresh idea and it’s nice outside, re-read the prompt, then take a walk or a drive to both clear your head and recharge. If you have kids, well, I don’t so I don’t know what to tell you about that.
7. Chew gum. It keeps your mind awake, but won’t keep you up all night like drinking coffee. Drinking water also has the same effect.

8. If possible, find a topic you give a flying f about. If you don’t, it’ll show. If you do, it’ll show.

Now, since my pages are almost done printing, I’m going to go post this and then apply these.

Have a wonderful night!

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