concentration techniques 8
Resist the temptation.
We have just finished exploring all the reasons why you should not rob your sleep time for purposes of studying. Now I will emphasize that you not sleep when you are supposed to be studying. During study time, you’re supposed to fight sleep to get the job done.
Most students find sleepiness one of their greatest problems. Sleepiness can result from real fatigue or from a subconscious desire to avoid a dull task. One way to fight sleepiness is to take frequent five-minute breaks. Another is to pace the floor slowly while reading a book or reciting a lesson aloud. Still another is to schedule recreation or academic assignments involving physical activity (such as rearranging your lecture and reading notes, writing in key words and phrases, or doing some of the errands that you have been putting off) at hours when you ordinarily find it hard to study. Psychologists find that each person’s sleepy period occurs at about the same time every day or evening. One word of warning: too many students rationalize that it is better to give in to the urge to sleep and that when they wake up they will be refreshed. Few students report this happy result. Rather, they awake to a formidable pile of work undone. It is far better to combat the desire to sleep, get the work done, and then go to bed at the usual time with a clear conscience. Then, after a good productive evening of study, you have earned the right to a good night’s sleep. And Then There is Exercise
A good workout promotes a keen appetite, keeps the brain and body in tone for alert studying and thinking, and triggers the organic clock when our regular bedtime rolls around. Then, after our night’s sleep, we wake up alert for the day’s academic work.
Exercise has these beneficial effects because it improves the circulation of the blood. Some people become mentally stale and physiologically old at a relatively young age. And why? Research unmistakably indicates that health, endurance,nutrition, and general well-being all depend on one thing — circulatory fitness. And the only way to achieve this is through regular exercise.
Dr. Paul Dudley White, special physician to President Eisenhower, focused the attention of the world on the importance of regular exercise to improve circulation and thus guard against heart attacks. Interest zoomed and is still high in programs emphasizing regular jogging, walking, swimming, calisthenics, and many other activities. All these exercises, many quite vigorous, are designed to do one thing: through regular exercise, to attain circulatory fitness. Researchers report that physical exercise not only makes us feel better, but it is also the only way that our body chemistry can be kept in good condition.
The kind of exercise you get in college depends partly on the facilities available. Your school may not let you use the gym unless you are in an organized class or on a school team. Tennis courts may be available for casual play only during specified hours.
You have to be a detective to find out what kinds of exercise are open to you. Perhaps you can schedule a course in basketball or swimming. Find a partner or two who can meet you for squash. Find out what the local YMCA and other community agencies have to offer. Even vigorous walking and bicycling can supply your need for exercise.
Don’t settle for the required physical education courses. You will meet those requirements long before you are out ofcollege, but you will still need exercise. One thing you can do while you are in college is tryout a number of different sports. One or two are bound to give you more pleasure and satisfaction than others, and they may well become your lifetime sports. Dr. Eric Weiser, a German doctor, recommends that we choose a sport that we can continue playing well into old age. For example, King Gustaf of Sweden continued to play an active game of tennis well into his 80’s. Dr.Weiser recommends taking up gymnastics, walking, tennis, swimming, rowing, or bicycling.
Research has shown that it is all but impossible to develop mental fatigue by studying, even by studying hard. We get “tired” readily enough, but this happens because we are bored with the subject, not because bodily wastes accumulate in the brain, or even in the muscles. You may push away a textbook with the comment, “I’m exhausted! I can’t read another word,” then casually pick up a magazine or newspaper and read avidly, without any signs of fatigue, for an hour or so. Obviously, we have confused fatigue with boredom.
Erle Stanley Gardner, the mystery storywriter and creator of Perry Mason, finds that he can best use his time and energies by working on three stories at one time. He finds that he is more refreshed by switching from one story to another than by simply taking a rest break. Often, when we think that we’re tired, we are actually “tired” of the subject; consequently, switching from the subject provides the “break” we need.