Studying requires discipline. A lot of discipline. On a daily basis, I find myself fending off a myriad of things that would steer me away from my set study schedule if I let them. Living in Toronto does not help – there are so many events, both on and off campus – film festivals, poetry readings, concerts, yadda, yadda, yadda – that I could literally find something to go to every day of the week, if I were so inclined.
I tend to study on campus – I switch it up between Robarts and Sid Smith Hall – because studying at home hasn’t really worked for me. I’ve tried, but between the television, the radio, and the current racket outside my door as the building management fixes the apartment balconies, my well-intentioned plans are often thwarted. And then, of course, there’s Thelonious… Sigh.
Allow me to illustrate what typically occurs when I attempt to study at home:
*background music: “Take 5” by the Dave Brubeck Quartet*
Say hello to Thelonious. Yes, he was named after the famous jazz musician. And, yes – I did refer to him as “certain people” in the video clip. Because I am convinced that he is a “people” trapped in a fuzzy little body. Did you check his facial expression as I poked him? I rest my case.
But I digress… So, this is why I am here sitting in the library to get through my readings, instead of at my comfortable apartment. But even at the library, the battle against distraction continues. My cell phone, and even more so, the internet, can really set me back a few hours if I’m not disciplined enough to stay focused.
And herein lies the dilemma. When One knows Oneself and One decides to face the truth that One is more productive at the library than One will ever be at home, One must pack all of One’s books into One’s bag and trudge over to Robarts. To “Get One’s Study On” (ahem).
And since I usually spend several hours at the library, this means that I need to not only pack books, but also lunch. And my binder. And my water bottle. And my fuzzy socks. Yes, fuzzy socks… I take off my shoes and slip on a pair of comfy, fuzzy socks – usually in some ridiculously bright colour – and instantly feel comfortable enough to get down to business. Hey – don’t knock it!!! Whatever works, I say…
So I’ve given myself a few rules to follow, that allow me to concentrate on the task at hand:
1. Turn off the cell phone – no texting, no calls.
2. Facebook is The Devil. I know – that is a statement, not a rule. But, avoid it at all costs.
3. Keep a snack nearby – this helps me to avoid cutting my work flow just to grab a bite to eat.
4. Having a study buddy keeps me focused. It’s hard to slack off when I look across the desk and my friend is hard at work, too.
5. Write my overall goals on a cue card and stick it in my notebook. It always helps when I remind myself of why I’m here, buried under a mountain of books…
So how do you stay focused when you sit down to study? Do you prefer to study at home or at the library – or somewhere else? Why? Drop me a comment!
In honor of the late, great Mr. Thelonious Monk, I present to you my Song of the Week: