Most of us use electronic gadgets to learn in today’s world. Let’s just rewind the clock a little. Ten years back, most of us weren’t using devices as much as we use them today, and a few of us never used them at all. We all had a bunch of notebooks, textbooks etc. Sure it was a task carrying them around. I mean, who can forget the heavy school bags we used to carry, right? Maybe much hasn’t changed with most schools. They still expect students to carry notebooks and textbooks to classes.
But outside the classrooms, learning has fundamentally changed. Especially with high Internet penetration, there has been a Paradigm shift in the last ten years. We have applications in our smartphones for everything we could possibly imagine.
We have applications to take notes, make to-do lists, reminders and so on. We can clearly see that learning has gone through a fundamental shift with the advancement in technology. We can probably find a correlation between learning and Moore’s law. But not everything that comes with technology has a positive impact on our lives.
Technology which was supposed to be our saviour somewhere along the journey, became the arch-enemy.
Of course, all the other distractions that come with social media have affected us too. Driven by an initial burst of enthusiasm, the most captivating things on the internet can soon turn into the biggest time wasters. You can’t stop surfing around, and it’s hard to stop checking, and as a result, you can lose days or weeks of productivity. But let’s keep social media aside for now.
We’re all suffering from extreme divided attention conditions with too many platforms to satisfy our intellectual curiosity. While divided attention can be a good thing to a certain extent, it definitely isn’t good when it affects your performance. If you’re wondering what “divided attention” is, it’s just the ability to give attention to/ concentrate on more than one thing at a time. I know, it sounds fancy and fabulous.
But this isn’t necessarily a good thing. Sure it’s great if you are listening to a lecture and taking notes at the same time. But that’s not always the case. A lot of important details get lost during the process. Divided attention is a Superpower we all hope we have, but we can never really perfect it. If you try to work on everything at once, you will almost always forget something important.
Research has shown that multitasking will only hinder your performance in the long term. So it’s to concentrate on just one task at a time. Time management and prioritising can save you from multitasking in general. If you have many things going on at once, you might forget about everything. A schedule helps. The most successful people never get distracted by what everybody else is doing. They spend their first hour of the day on the most essential task. They often do this by creating a to-do list. Then, they break their tasks down into smaller pieces. They look at each step and decide what they need to do first, second, and so on. They create a task list for each small step.
Have control over what you are going to do the entire day. Don’t just kill time watching TV or playing video games. Those things might be fun, but they won’t be as productive as you think.
We all have only 24 hrs in a day, so time management can become difficult at times. Here’s where prioritising will help you. When you’re juggling a busy schedule, you constantly have to tell yourself, “Okay, what is the most important thing here? What am I working hardest on?”
That’s why it’s important to have priorities.
Now, coming back to divided attention.
Why do we stress that divided attention could be a bad thing?
Divided attention is a significant energy sink. It gives us the perception that we’re doing a lot of things. But we will only be doing a lot of work that is not of great quality. At the end of the day, the quality of your work is as important as the amount of work you do.
Switching between tabs on our laptops and PCs is a great example. We all know how frustrating it gets when we have a thousand tabs open, and we have to keep switching between them! Will you concentrate on completing your assignment or going through an article to filter out information, or will you focus on which tab you have seen a good piece of information or… Phew! You certainly shouldn’t have to worry about so many other things when you already have a task at your hand.
When we keep thinking about different things, we are bound to miss a lot of details. It’s just the way humans are, no point denying it or sweeping it under the rug. We just have to accept the fact and work accordingly.
But we’re not here to say you should throw away your smartphones and go back to learning from books. Because that would be like throwing away all the progress we’ve made over the decades and starting from scratch again.
Moreover, in the COVID-19 era, there’s really no other way but to use technology to learn. All classes have gone online, irrespective of whether you go to school or college. So how do you manage your time and not get distracted while learning?
Technology is a double-edged sword, and learning to use it the right way could make all the difference.
So, how does one avoid distractions while learning?
You can start with muting your social handles while learning. The last thing you want is to know what your friend is up to when you’re learning. Most of our phones already have the “Focus mode”, which mutes notifications from all applications so that you can just focus on the task at hand. They can be helpful when you have the urge to check your Twitter feed continuously.
You can also start tracking the amount of time you spend on different apps. Tracking helps you understand where you spend most of your time and can help you take action accordingly. If you are using Instagram a lot when you are supposed to be studying, you can set a limit on how much time you would ideally like to spend on it.
Pick a study spot that is conducive for you to learn. Pick a surrounding that doesn’t have any distractions like loud noise, music etc. A library generally could be a great place to have your study sessions. These are generic steps that you can follow to avoid distractions while learning.
But the important part starts after you’ve done all the above steps. “Technology is a double-edged sword, and learning to use it the right way could make all the difference.”Remember?
How do you use technology the right way? In today’s world, having the right tools (applications) to get your work done will give you the desired results. While your hard work is a prerequisite, the right tools can help you magnify your results to a great extent.
Are you someone struggling to keep track of all the things you have to complete? A to-do list can help. Let alone completing tasks, they even help you think better. Good thinkers begin with a to-do list. They make a list of everything they need to do, no matter how trivial. And stick to the schedule! Being disciplined is equally essential.
Are you finding it hard to stay productive? Find an app that helps you time your activities. Like I said earlier, there is literally an app for everything. But that is where the problem lies. We have too many applications dedicated to solving specific problems of learning.
We understood that today’s learning process is broken, scattered and tiring. One app for taking notes, one for reminders, one for to-do lists, one for saving bookmarks… Phew! Learning shouldn’t be about managing applications!
Zuperly is that convenience that is missing in our learning process today. There are a lot of individual applications out there. Still, nobody has put together those pieces into one place to create a unified learning space, and that is what we at Zuperly are doing.
When you have all the tools in one place, the likelihood of becoming productive increases exponentially. Productivity is about perfecting a process. And this generally holds for repetitive work. Learning is the best example of it. The way we approach studying a new topic is repetitive. A few of us always refer to books and notes; some of us get the best results by watching videos and so on. But we all follow a process. If you perfect your learning process, it will give surprisingly better outcomes. For example, if you structure your learning process correctly, it saves you from burning out and helps you better organise your thoughts. Stick with your approach and keep iterating. Make changes to your strategy until you feel that is the perfect process for you.
Our simple goal is to make you an efficient and productive learner, and we will not stop until we achieve this to the fullest potential!
Varun, Content Writer