Here's the cool pigeon! https://media.giphy.com/media/GyKCVW91R83Ek/giphy.gif
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes, 26 seconds. (http://niram.org/read/
: skip to **[tldr start]** The article is for you if:
- you study in the library
- you are an android (phone) and windows (PC), user I'm at uni.
I have to study. My exams are just two weeks away, and I have three subjects to learn. Can I make it?
I don't want to think it about it. I take my phone. I watch some stories. I read some WhatsApp messages. I smile watching Peter farting on Brian dressed like Meg.
I realize I'm digging myself into a procrastination hole. Ok, stop. I have to study. I have exams.
My mom writes me. "Is everything ok honey? " I answer to my mom.
Now I'm checking the mailbox. So many messages. Nothing important, but some of them seems interesting. I read two emails. Stop Eric! You don't have time now!
5 minutes later I'm scrolling the WhatsApp contact list, examining who has changed his photo. Fuck! Eric stop now!
I put the phone down. Finally, I start to study.
10 Minutes later I'm checking the phone. 0 notifications.
15 minutes after I'm checking the phone. 2 notifications.
I don't unlock the phone. I have to study.
5 minutes later I'm replying to my friend.
📷 https://media.giphy.com/media/5MTanButt3mHC/giphy.gif After two hours I pause for a moment
If I pass one hour checking the phone, I have to stay in the library for one hour more. Is it worth it to stay here more of the necessary for checking my phone? Wouldn't be better to be elsewhere doing something I enjoy?
Can I easily stop doing this?
Am I the problem?
Will I pass the exams?
"Americans check their phone on average once every 12 minutes – burying their heads in their phones 80 times a day, according to new research."[^1] (November 8, 2017, New York Post)
“However, the instances of compulsive checking are much higher than we would have imagined, showing our phones are as much a habit as they are an aide to our busy lifestyles and an immediate source of entertainment, from wherever we
are.”[^2] (Independent) Ok, I'm not alone. But why can't I stop to check my phone?
"In 1971, a psychologist named Michael Zeiler sat in his lab across from three hungry white carneaux pigeons."
"During some trials, Zeiler would programme the button so it delivered food every time the pigeons pecked; during others, he programmed the button so it delivered food only some of the time. Sometimes the pigeons would peck in vain, the button would turn red, and they would receive nothing."
"Their brains, it turned out, were releasing far more dopamine when the reward was unexpected
than when it was predictable."[^3] (The Guardian)
Ok, pigeons like food and they start to crazy peck the button when the result is unpredictable, but why should I care about a pigeon experiment?
"Decades after Zeiler published his results, in 2012, a team of Facebook web developers prepared to unleash a similar feedback experiment on hundreds ofmillions of humans... The experiment took the form of a deceptively simple newfeature called a “like button”.Facebook was the first major social networking force to introduce the like button, but others now have similar functions."
"Like pigeons, we’re more driven to seek feedback when it isn’t guaranteed"[^4] (The Guardian)
If I change pigeon with me, the button with phone and food with notifications, I start to understand why I need to care.
The reason why I can't stop to check my phone is that, like the pigeon, and like other animals, I love pleasure
Unfortunately, the fact that the reward is unpredictable simply make stronger the need to check again and again. But how much is this impacting my life?
I have found the answer in the bestseller “Deep work rules”.[^6]
It simply explains how much is life changing to have from three to five hours of uninterrupted concentration at day. It shows the incredible results people with uninterrupted focus have achieved.
It has taught me that being hyper-focused in a world of distracted people, can be an extremely competitive advantage. I will not expand on this part because I'm trying to keep the article short. I already see tldr requests in the comments sections. But, as an example, in my first year of university, I pass 2 of 6 exams with a barely minimum. Then I worked on creating "flow"[^7]. I graduated on time and with a top grade. How to solve the situation?
As usual, when I don't know something, I google it.
A bunch of articles appears on how to stay concentrated while studying.
It sounds pretty easy, but:
- distraction free environment
- no electronic devices
- study on paper
- I use internet for searching what I don't understand. How can I do this without electronic devices?
- I can't simply switch them off. I have to leave them at home, or I turn them on. But if some of my friends or my family needs me? Or if I need to call them?
- I need Spotify to study
- I need a timer to study
- I don't have time, and I don’t have money. I would prefer not to spend them on printing all the material professors give me. (It would be nicer to say that I care about trees, but now I prefer to be concentrated on not becoming a hobo)
Fortunately, I have found a solution to create uninterrupted concentration, while being available and having the opportunity to surf only uni-related sites. No willpower required! All I need is an old phone (with wifi) and 16 euros. **[tldr start]*\
Step by step guide:
- Install messengers on the old phone. No sim card needed.
- Install LastPass on the old phone and create a new account (also if you already have one, we need one new). Use a password you can't remember and write it down on a paper.
- Install Stay Focused on your regular phone (5 euro in-app purchase of premium version). This app can't be unlocked or uninstalled before the end of the session. If you restart your phone, the app will continue to work.
- Install the Yandex browser on the regular phone. It is similar to chrome but can install the extension Stayfocusd. (it will be useful when laptop battery dies)
- Install the extension Stayfocusd. (it will give you the possibility to surf only uni-related sites)
- Install Freedom on the pc (11 euro*/year). It will block the use of any distracting app.
*you can get this price with the offer on the site, or using the code available through the extension Stayfocusd
Remember to uninstall instant messenger and email apps from your regular phone. You can check them through the web at the end of the session or at home on your old phone. Nothing bad will happen. If someone truly needs you, will call you. Before going out (2 minute required)
- install the same extension Stayfocusd, but this time on google chrome on your pc. It will give you the possibility to surf only uni-related sites.
Remember to tell your friends and family that if they want to talk to you, they have to call you. In the library (3 minutes required)
- change the password of socials using the automatic function of LastPass. You will be blocked out when you're not at home.
- leave the old phone at home
- set Stay Focused on the phone for the hours you planned to study
- set the Yandex extension Stayfocusd to allow only whitelisted sites (the ones you need for searching info i.e. wikipedia.org or your uni site)
- Set Freedom to block every app could distract you. Block also play store and configuration app to restrict theinstallation of new apps.
- Set the Chrome extension Stayfocusd to allow only whitelisted sites
* What happens next?
I'm in the library. There are no distractions. I don't have to force myself not to check my phone or my socials because I just can't. So? I study.
My energy is not drained by seeing other people "enjoying life" while I'm in the library.
When the session ends. I check my email. But I want to go home to eat, so I do it rapidly not wasting time on unuseful readings.
I come back home before than usual. I have done everything faster. I have more time for doing what I enjoy. Do I have to leave the social network world?
No! I can check them at home whenever I want without any anxiety because I have already studied. And what about friends?
I want to talk to them more than before. Now I have the time to write to them, call them and even better hang out with them! And if I need to use messenger when I go out, how can I do it without the sim card?
I use the hotspot function of the other phone.
Or I reinstall WhatsApp on my usual phone.
It can't be done every day because of the time limit for SMS confirmations. If you go out every day, it would be a good idea to buy a new sim card with a minimum internet plan. Or use Telegram, where you can confirm your number through the desktop app. My friends initially laughed at me. I wait. The results arrived. They don't laugh anymore.
Just try for a day and see what happens. I am sure you will never come back. Please if you know better alternatives share with us! If you want to share what are you struggling with in college, feel free to contact me at ericboniardi\@gmail.com I'd be glad to help who was in my past situation. No one has helped me, and it was really tough to do it all alone. My next article:
How do I party and get good grades at the same time?
If you want my next articles directly in your inbox, write me at ericboniardi\@gmail.com You can see the articles with images at https://www.reddit.com/GetStudying/comments/8x167b/uninterrupted_concentration_faster_results_and_a/