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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