31 - Juggling Life and Learning

دوره: Coursera – Learning How to Learn / درس 31

Coursera – Learning How to Learn

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31 - Juggling Life and Learning

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Learning, for most people,

involves a complex balancing of many different tasks.

A good way for you to keep

perspective about what you’re trying to learn and accomplish is

to once a week write a brief weekly list of key tasks in a planner journal.

Then, each day on another page of your planner journal,

write a list of the tasks that you can reasonably work on or accomplish.

Try to write this daily task list the evening before.

Why the evening before?

Research has shown that this helps your

subconscious to grapple with the tasks on the list,

so you can figure out how to accomplish them.

Writing the list before you go to sleep enlists

your zombies to help you accomplish the items on the list the next day.

If you don’t write your tasks down on a list,

they lurk at the edge of the four or so slots in your working memory,

taking up valuable mental real estate.

But once you make a task list,

it frees working memory for problem-solving.

So, let’s look one of my daily task lists.

As you can see here,

there are only six items.

Some are process-oriented.

For example, I have a paper due to a journal in several months,

so I spend a little focus time on most days working towards completing it.

A few items are product-oriented but that is

only because they are doable within a limited period of time.

Note my reminders.

I wanted to keep my focus on each item when I’m working on it and I want to have fun.

I did catch myself getting sidetracked because I forgot to shut down my email.

To get myself back into gear,

I set a 22-minute Pomodoro challenge using a timer on my computer desktop.

Why 22 minutes?

Well, why not?

I don’t have to do the same thing each time and notice, too,

that by moving to Pomodoro mode,

I’ve switched to a process orientation.

None of the items on my list is too big because I’ve got other things going on in my day;

meetings to go to,

a lecture to give.

Sometimes I sprinkle a few tasks that involve physical motion on

my list even if it’s just cleaning something which,

I’ll admit, isn’t ordinarily one of my favorite things to do.

Somehow, because I’m using them as diffuse mode breaks,

I often look forward to them.

Mixing other tasks up with your learning seems to make everything more

enjoyable and keeps you from prolonged and unhealthy bouts of sitting.

Over time, as I’ve gained more experience,

I’ve gotten much better at gauging how long it takes to do any given task.

You’ll find yourself improving quickly as you become more

realistic about what you can reasonably do in any given time.

Make notes in your planner journal about what works and what doesn’t.

Notice my goal finish time for the day - 5 pm.

Doesn’t seem quite right, does it?

But it is right and it’s one of

the most important components of your daily planner journal.

Planning your quitting time is as important as planning your working time.

Generally, I aim to quit at 5 pm.

Although when I’m learning something new,

it can sometimes be a pleasure to look at it again

after I’ve taken an evening break just before I go to sleep.

And occasionally, there’s a major project that I’m wrapping up like,

say, this MOOC, that has me running into a bit of overtime.

You might think, “Well, yeah.

But you’re a professor who’s”,

shall we say, “past your youthful study days.

Of course, an early quitting time is fine for you.

However, One of my most admired study experts,

Cal Newport, used 5 pm quitting time through most of his student career.

He ended up getting his PhD from MIT.

In other words, this method,

implausible though it may seem for some,

can work for undergraduate and graduate students in rigorous academic programs.

Time after time, those who are committed to maintaining healthy leisure time along with

their hard work outperformed those who doggedly pursue an endless treadmill.

Of course, your life may not lend itself to such a schedule with breaks and leisure time.

You may be running on fumes with two jobs and too many classes.

But however your life is going,

try to squeeze a little break time in.

One more thing.

As writing coach, Daphne Gray-Grant,

recommends to her writing clients.

Eat your frogs first in the morning.

Try to work on a most important and most disliked task first.

At least just one Pomodoro as soon as you wake up.

This is incredibly effective.

You need to sometimes make changes in your plans because of unforeseen events,

of course, but remember the law of serendipity.

Lady Luck favors the one who tries.

Planning well is part of trying.

Keep your eye on your learning goal and try not to

get too unsettled by occasional roadblocks.

I’m Barbara Oakley.

Thanks for learning how to learn.

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