My “Shut Up & Study” Experience

I just had my first Shut Up & Study session  today- it was an awesome experience – I achieved a battalion of mini-tasks that could have easily taken weeks to accomplish.

Tell you what!  I am going to sign-up for every single session that crosses my radar in the coming weeks because it was worth every second.

What is Shut Up & Study?

Basically, this is how it works:

  • You go into this well-lit room with tables and chairs set-up for study (somewhere in my uni library)
  • Get introduced to your fellow Shut Up & Study mates (very pleasant people)
  • Grab a cup of coffee, while the Facilitator chats with you about your target-goals for that particular session
  • And boom! study time … Count down to an hour and 15 minutes – absolute total silence save the tick-tock of the clock until break time

What I found most helpful about this session was that it heightened my focus and discipline level (which is so high at the moment, i’m almost a size zero :|)

As a grad student, you are your own boss and it’s so easy to let time slip away when you are not directly answerable to anyone. However, on the Shut Up & Study session, we were somewhat accountable to the Facilitator – because before we started, she asked what we would love to have accomplished at the end of the session; and at the end once again she asked, “were you able to achieve all you set out to do today?”

Knowing you were going to have to answer that question at the end of the session was all the ginjah needed to stay FOCUSED.

Another advantage I found with the Shut Up & Study session was that it gave me an easy way out to measure how i’ve spent my time – simply because I clearly laid out what research tasks I would love to have achieved by the end of it. This is a carry-over lesson therefore, to always have a list of clearly-laid-out plans whenever I sit down to study.

Most times, we approach our computers with a fair idea of what we want to achieve in our heads – then we start opening the web pages, the tabs start multiplying, occasional visits to Twitter & Facebook – then 9am becomes 6pm! Home time.

It felt good knowing that the next-person-in-the-room shared a common goal with me – to think-up or write-up the thesis.

To me, the “Shut Up” in the session stood for:

  • Shut up to Facebook (which is really easy for me, FB is getting boring these days anyway)
  • Shut Up to Twitter (this is me by the way @tomi_ola)
  • Shut Up to the mobile phone (you always get that moment when you pause to just glance at your screen and fiddle with your apps – or play Temple Run & Angry Birds in the name of “break time”)
  • Shut Up to the Email and most importantly….
  • Shut  Up to your Wandering Mind (day-dreams and all the castles-in-the-air that come with it)

At this juncture, I would like to say to you that “Shut Up & Study” does not have to be exclusive to just grad students or undergraduates – I think it is a useful plan for individuals who want to be productive in this age of information overload.

There are a thousand and one things to grab your attention, and understandably so. However, to be extra-ordinary, you have to try to do something others are perhaps not doing at the moment – and that is to take full charge of your time and SHUT OUT the noise from without and within.

That said, I am so looking forward to the next Shut and Study session… but till then, I’m just gonna shut-up right now 😛

What other tips do you employ to stay productive as a research student or an individual?

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12 thoughts on “My “Shut Up & Study” Experience

  1. Gossy Uk says:

    Thanks for this.. I need to do this myself as often as I can. Productivity level goes up when I do not have total internet access.

  2. Edna says:

    Love this!

  3. hafsee says:

    wow mind is always wondering am still learning how to shut it. This is Good stuff dear

  4. aloted says:

    i need a shut up and study experience…highly needed..

    Thanks for sharing your experience and i like how you chipped in your twitter name into the whole mix…lol

  5. Mykey Irene says:

    Very thoughtful post. I use something close to a football formation. For example, on a particular day I might decide to use the 1-2-3 formation (6hrs of reading and writing). That means 1hr reading(shut “every” other thing off) and 20 mins break; 2hrs reading and 45mins break and 3hrs respectively. After some days of consistency, I discovered that I accomplished more. However, it takes extreme discipline to stick to the set plan.

  6. MediAfritiQ says:

    Gosh Im going to try a shutup and study session today, will let you know how it goes!

  7. MediAfritiQ says:

    Worked like a charm 🙂

  8. S-star says:

    Well done dear. I left from the last experience when you were working on your masters project. That was great, I created my room to an office setting like I was working in my dream job and I worked round the office hours with minimal breaks. It was awesome at the end, it took a lot of discipline too and I had a distiction in the project at the end. Thanks, Truly as God helps us we have a personl part to play too. Cheers

  9. dkaneva says:

    I do something similar called ‘shut up & write’ with a group of PhD students – we would have a brief chat/rant then set a timer and work on our own stuff for an hour, then have a chat to reflect on what we’ve done during the writing part. It seems that accountability and the fact that somebody else knows that you are supposed to be working makes people more productive 🙂 I enjoyed your post, good luck with your studies!

  10. D Cotto says:

    I seriously need to actively make an effort to do this. I think my biggest problem is turning off my cell phone and getting to work.

  11. Anne says:

    Wish this was available out of work hours so that I could attend 😦 Any chance of having these sessions in the evenings or at the weekend…?

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