For many students, multi-minding has become a normal part of life. Many people for example, will be watching a movie, while on their phones—half in one world, half in the other. When it comes to school however, this multi-minding approach can cause too much disruption in focus, affect attention span, and interfere with critical thinking and processing capabilities.
When everything is competing for your attention at once, it takes effort and intention to be fully present and focused on one thing at a time. Here are five strategies to help avoid the multi-minding trap:
- Clear your space. A cluttered space creates a cluttered mind. When it’s time to focus on studying, schoolwork and projects, create your focused space. Make sure this area is clean, organized, well-lit, includes the tools needed, and is free from noise and distraction. If sharing a space with roommates or family, try noise-cancellation headphones and communicate times not to be disturbed. A clean space with limited distractions helps boost concentration.
- Prioritize, prioritize. Large tasks are usually more difficult, require deep critical thinking and analysis, and can seem daunting. Tackle these tasks first, early in the day, and early in the week, to maximize your peak focus time. When hitting a roadblock, try to stick with the task and avoid the temptation to switch to something easier. With this approach, you’re likely to discover that these difficult tasks are a lot less difficult than originally thought.
- Forget perfection. When planning your day, be realistic. Set out to achieve about three goals each day, and be clear about where and when you want to focus your attention most. Leave enough time and flexibility in planning to address last-minute needs or account for unanticipated delays. Instead of letting a minor setback cause stress and crush productivity, focus on solutions and stay motivated on achieving goals.
- Learn to say “No.” While there’s certainly time for friends, fun and helping others, consider your schedule, school and work goals, and priorities before agreeing to anything that’s too disruptive.
- Make personal time. Try to start the day calmly with a daily ritual that clears your mind, like stretching, yoga, reading or writing. Taking a walk outdoors can offer a great midday mental boost and prevent an afternoon slump. At the end of your day, take a few deep breaths to let go of the day’s stress and enjoy the evening ahead.
Your Assistance Program is here to help you stay focused and motivated in school, reduce stress and build emotional wellness. Reach out to your Assistance Program for confidential support and resources.
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