Effective learning faces some of the same challenges as productive work. Just like productivity , learning can be hampered by distractions, multitasking, and procrastination. Every learner faces the challenge of limited resources, particularly: time, attention, and energy.
We live in an attention economy , in which different forms of media constantly compete for our limited attention. Smartphones, the internet, video streaming, and social media have put endless opportunities for distraction at our fingertips. Distractions and interruptions sap our attention and disrupt our focus.
Learners can implement deliberate strategies to overcome these challenges and achieve a state of focus that fosters learning. Focus can be achieved by applying the concept of deep work to learning. By avoiding shallow tasks and dedicating long stretches of undivided attention to learning, individuals can improve their performance. Learners must find ways of overcoming the things that divide attention, which may mean choosing a quiet environment without distracting screens. Restricting communications and social media to certain times of the day is another strategy that can help maintain focus.
Most people are not capable of multitasking unless one of the activities is relatively automatic (e.g. walking). The human brain switches quickly between tasks, but researchers have found each switch leaves an attention residue that can diminish focus.
There is no universal recipe for success when it comes to maintaining focus. Each person will respond to different cues that lead to distraction, interruption, and procrastination. Find out what’s breaking your concentration and implement strategies to increase your focus. There are some productivity hacks that can help.