The Verdict is In: You’re Sentenced to 30 Minutes!

In Study Hacks by Peter Peng4 Comments

We all do things that are highly unproductive. We tell ourselves we need this downtime to unwind. After all, it’s been a long day at school. You had a long sports practice or after school music rehearsal. You just broke up with my boyfriend/girlfriend. Whatever reason you have…listen, I get it.

I was the same way myself. In high school, I procrastinated like crazy, often only starting my homework at midnight. It’s no wonder I was up till 7am more nights than I care to remember.

The point is, I know what it’s like to need a TV break, a quick Facebook binge, a Reddit fix, or whatever it is you do. And here’s another thing: I would often have meetings in the middle of my afternoons or evenings, whether for Boy Scouts or journalism club or just something. And every time I’d return from these commitments, I’d need some extra time (often as long as 2 hours) to ease back into study mode.

I knew this about myself too. That’s why I NEVER studied at the library or a coffee shop. If I went there, I’d waste at least 30 minutes surfing the net a bit, ordering a drink, and generally getting situated before I’d start any real work.

Then I’d realize I really couldn’t concentrate there with all the shop’s distractions, so I’d pack up and go home only to realize I needed ANOTHER 30 minutes to unwind and re-situate myself at home before getting started on any real work.

Every location change, every break in my studying, every interruption called for an additional “ease in” period. It’s just the way I operated, which really sucked for time management.

But back then, I had one advantage going for me: I didn’t own a cell phone. They simply weren’t a thing back in my day, so I had one fewer distraction.

But these days, my smartphone is attached to me by an inseparable umbilical cord. It’s seriously my baby (although I’m planning on abandoning my current phone for the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Note 4! Ssshh, don’t tell that to my aging Note II).

I’m sure your phone is a huge part of your life too. It’s our connection to the world–Facebook, Facetime, Instagram, Snapchat, texting, and oh yeah…actually calling someone and having a conversation.

But with all that power comes the ultimate form of distraction. You probably waste ungodly amounts of time with that little screen. Why don’t you just marry it already, geez!

Look, when it comes to productive work, our phones are our ball and chain, holding us back. It prevents us from doing any real work, constantly vying for your attention like a whiny little baby. Are you starting to see why I call my phone my “baby”?

The phone distracts people in the middle of their practice SAT (“I just have to check this text really quickly!”). This is after I’ve specifically instructed my students to treat this mock exam like the real thing, which means no phones, not even for a second. Still, hardly anyone listens. So their practice test results are inaccurate and their minds are scattered.

Like a thief in the night, our phones have stolen our time. But today, justice will be served. The jury has come to a decision, and the verdict is in! Your phone is sentenced to 30 minutes!

Check out this awesome little toy I found the other day. For $8, you can lock up your cell phone. Set the jail sentence for 30 minutes (or whatever predetermined period), lock up your phone, and free yourself from its grasp. It’s like a restraining order, but funnier. You’ll be unable to access your cell until the sentence is served. The cell phone cage comes complete with sound effects and cute recorded messages like:

“You’re sentenced to 30 minutes!”

“You are now free to phone!”

“It’s time to re-join digital society.”

“Justice is served…power up!”

Seriously, this is probably going to be the best $8 you’ll ever spend. $8 in exchange for total concentration on your task at hand. You can finally study in peace. This will FORCE you to give in completely to learning what you need. Sentence yourself to undivided attention.

Think you can handle it? Get this cool gadget HERE:

What are you supposed to do in these agonizing 30 minutes or so without your phone?

Well, definitely not hop on your tablet or laptop and resume pleasure as usual. Don’t plop in front of the TV either. If you need extra help, here are some additional resources to stop you from wasting time.

It contains everything from Internet lock down tools (gasp, you won’t be able to access the Net for a certain period of time, or only be able to access pages for a predetermined duration)…

to website auditors (so you know exactly where you’re wasting your time)…

to focus boosters that allow you to ONLY work on one thing at a time (because multitasking is actually very ineffective)…

and much more.

Do you have the guts to try one or more of these things out? Are you ready to go digitally naked for a moment in exchange for increased productivity? Tell me in the comments below.

 

 

Comments

  1. Peter O'Leary

    What’s an even worse distractor than a phone? An iPad! (I’m using it as I type). Last fall, I got into the habit of using it without realizing the procrastinatory (?) effect it was having on my work. I finally became conscious of it and literally have had to turn it off this summer and put it in the closet until 8pm when I would allow myself to satiate my obsession. This worked to give me a better focus, but I’m now back to using it unlimitedly. I also find myself pretending to do SAT prep on it like downloading stupid apps on it that do not really help but just give me a reason to think they are helping. The only app I’ve found particularly beneficial is the Magoosh flashcard app for vocab. It’s generally best to just power off the iPad, grit my teeth, and open a good book like The Scarlet Letter and jot down vocab words I do not know. My mom won’t let me buy the cage “contraption” because “I need to learn self-control by myself,” but I will definitely go back to my power-off routine as I go back to school in ten days. I’m looking forward to my senior course load with both excitement and apprehension! I need a good disciplined routine to fit in SAT studying as well (not to mention Cross-country!)

    1. Author
      Peter Peng

      Haha, I know what you mean. The iPad is pretty bad too. And the SAT apps that masquerade as something useful? Yeah, the world is full of that. You have a limited amount of time, so you have to choose what to use carefully.

      You don’t need to actually buy or lock your devices up…the point is to exercise self-control. Sometimes, even the smallest barriers are enough. Put your phone or tablet in the next room. You’d be amazed at how lazy we naturally are. If we don’t want it bad enough, we won’t even go through a small hoop.

      Good luck with the SAT prep!

  2. Peter O'Leary

    Also, I can’t seem to click on the “Additional Resources” link. It says the file is not found.

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