Do not work away like mad and the power of schedules 📅 ✅
Don't work away like mad - the power of schedules
Welcome back to another weekly learnings newsletter. I hope you are doing well and have a great time. In my case, I had an awesome week although I spent 90% of my time studying for my final exams (I really don’t like studying that much, but who even likes this anyway?) and writing them. It just feels so nice when you put so much work and time into a project and, then, have the chance to finally complete it. Moreover, I am also looking forward to the upcoming days when I will start my internship and have more time for myself and my personal development. Well, that’s enough said about this week reflection. Let’s come to the learnings of the past days.
Shut down your smartphone when it's time to concentrate and focus
This week was the last week of my examination period. During this period of time, I had the chance to try out new techniques for improving my productivity and effectiveness. I have always believed that making use of breaks and planning for periods of full concentration are the key factors for a very effective and efficient learning experience. However, I was always sceptical regarding shutting down my smartphone since I have always thought it's enough to ignore it during working periods and limit the use to breaks. However, it has usually been very difficult to withstand using the smartphone when I was waiting for a particular message or information. Therefore, I wanted to try something new:
Whenever I had to learn something particularly annoying, I shut down my smartphone so that I wasn't even able to look if there was a new message, mail or something similar. The smartphone was consequently just a black screen then and I would have taken a decent amount of time until it had been restarted. Consequently, I wasn't tempted to look at it.
Sounds like a really simple solution, right? But you cannot imagine how much more productive I became when I shut it down. This allowed me to stay focused twice as long. It is a real “gamechanger” for me although it was such an obvious issue. I really recommend trying it out. If you are a person who uses your smartphone a lot and you are not able to completely ignore it during the learning phase, then you should definitely give it try. This simply change allowed me to stay in state of very high concentration.
I am convinced that many of those small little changes can have a very large impact on our lives. In my opinion it is just a challenge to find the ones that work for us. I think is the real challenge.
Don't work away like mad
Another experience I made during the last weeks was the following: Regarding strict schedules and strict time plans I have always very been very sceptical l until I tried it out for myself. For my final exams I set up a very detailed and clear learning plan. It stated when I needed to learned what for how long (implement with a very simple excel sheet).
This plan allowed me to oversee what I was going to do in total for my project (in my case the exams). I could see how much time and effort I would (need to) invest into the exams. Additionally, I incorporated into the schedule buffers that allowed me to have enough free time for activities I really enjoy (going out at the weekend, meeting friends, ...) and which enhance my performance (doing sports, sleep, good food, coffee breaks, ...).
After seven weeks of strictly pursuing this plan I come to the conclusion that its advantages massively outweigh its downsides. This strict schedule helped me to arrive at a level of very high confidence and trust in my (newly acquired) knowledge regarding the final exams. I have never been more even-tempered, confident, secure and calm regarding finals. Moreover, writing the exams was much less unpleasant.
Due to this very positive experience I am really excited to try this out for other projects and areas in my life. Yes, it requires a lot of discipline and takes a lot of freedome. However, ones the first week is successfully completed it becomes very easy to continue. And, in addition, the more and better you keep the plan, the more freedom you will have. A very good schedule always incorporates breaks and time for activities you really enjoy. In case you efficiently accomplish your work tasks, you ideally have sufficient time left for the fun activities. Whereas, in case of chaotic, "work away like mad" approach you might not even have any time for such actitivies as you might did not work efficiently enough.
I really hope I could make you clear why this concept works so well for me. Unless you really do not like strict schedules, you should try to set up a small schedule for your next small project which includes the necessary breaks and buffers for fun activities.
This was the last week's post. I hope you can learn something from these learnings, too.
All the best to you and yours, David