Fitting in study on top of work is always going to be a juggle. But there are so many ways to make it easier – some are quite obvious (in theory) and others take a bit of understanding of some neuroscience and psychology.
One of the key underrated tricks that many people forget is to focus on the process. Now this may sound really easy in theory, and many think they do it well, but let’s really break down what this means and let’s highlight some of the easiest ways we can lose focus on the process without even realising it…
Oh and note that this is actually relevant for many things and not just study, but this blog will focus on the study context.
Understand your outcome
Some people need to study to remain in their profession, and others enjoy the topic they study and want to suck as much out of their chosen course as possible.
Some people will want really high marks, others just want or need the qualification.
All of this can determine your outcome and therefore how much time and energy you are willing to put into your studies.
For me, I wanted to suck as much information as I could out of my Masters in Psychology and Neuroscience of Mental Health. I love this stuff and I’m a bit of a geek once I really get my teeth into something. I wanted a really deep understanding of the material I now had access to.
For me it was never about the marks, although I guess when you have a good process and you enjoy your topic, good marks will probably be a default outcome, as they were in my case.
What needs to be done to get your outcome?
Whenever you start studying your first module, you are also figuring out how you can get your outcome in the best way for you. Learning new software, new approaches to learning, making notes, doing further research if required are all part of the fun.
So in this part focus on some trial and error such as how to avoid rabbit holes, the best environment for you to study, the best order and ways to get through the material, the best ways to engage with others such as academic staff, the best ways to manage your cognitive energy for study, and the list goes on.
Use this first module to really hone the process that works for you.
Forget your outcome and the mental chatter, and focus purely on the process
Now that you have used your outcome to determine your process, your process is now the only thing that matters. Forget the outcome – it will happen. From here you just need to put your energy credits into following the process.
This part might sound simple, but this where other cognitive energy distractions creep in, if you let them, like doubt “Am I smart enough to get through this?”; overwhelm “Gosh there is a massive volume of work to get through here. How will I get this done on top of my day job”?; and for people who feel like they have to study, resentment “I hate that I have to get this done, it’s so unfair that I have to do this on top of work”.
Mental chatter be gone – we have no time for you!
All of the above thought processes are completely unproductive. Any time that we are losing focus from the process and letting these thought bubbles creep in are wasted energy and therefore time.
They are not moving you closer to your goal, and you already have a lot on your plate so any mental distractions will never help you.
So any time these mental distractions kick in, the quicker you notice them, shut them down and divert your attention back to the process, the quicker you’ll be back to achieving your outcomes.
Of course if you are thinking of taking on more study, attending one of our open series workshops which make sure you are well placed to crush through your study.