On every 20th of June, we celebrate the international day of productiveness! Concentration is, on the one side, ”the glue that holds together” speed reading and memorizing: in the absence of concentration, nothing of what we read could we manage to remember, nothing of what we do could have the expected results, and our work would be in vain. When I work in the efficient learning consultancy field with some of my clients, I tend to identify what we should mainly focus on:
- techniques for increasing the reading speed and understanding capacity,
- techniques for structuring and memorizing complex materials in the long run,
- exercises for increasing the concentration capacity under stressful conditions.
Each of them has its own role and priority so that one would successfully learn what one has set out to learn. However, the value test of what is learned is not taken during an exam or oral presentations on a certain topic but when one applies the knowledge. When each has to get results starting from what (s)he succeeds in, knows, and can do, the value of learning is displayed in all its glory. Essentially, each thing that you learn theoretically in your area of expertise should achieve actual results in your work within a maximum of one year since you did the learning. If it doesn’t achieve results, it is very unlikely that it will ever do.
There are some people, for whom this is obvious, and the learning task is not a chore or a whim for which they have signed up for the sake of transitory objectives; they want more. They don’t just want to learn, but excel. They don’t just want to focus but be productive. They don’t just want to be effective, but efficient. Some of the techniques that I show they already know and have been practicing for a long time because they know to yield results.
Practically, for such persons, concentration becomes a launching pad for excellence in productiveness on their way to meeting the intended objectives. The strategy of organizing the process of learning and task development becomes optimizable.
Thus, starting from concentration, the people who know how to organize their tasks, priorities, and documentation, manage to organize both their life, time, and office work. It is often said that an untidy office is a sign of an untidy mind. It is said that order is related to the result that we can perceive: for each object to have its place. Well, productiveness means placing each task in its own diagram and time and organizing the activities depending on the existing priorities.
At the same time, it is important that we become aware of the fact that, although concentration and organization are expectations that others might have of us (teachers, managers, colleagues, partners), there is no subject matter in school teaching us how it’s done. Moreover, parents don’t give special attention to teaching their children the principles regarding the way a performer focuses. At best, parents can share from their own experience, i.e. how they acted in the past when they were successful. However, essentially, children learn both organization and concentration through models first of all from their parents and, second of all, from teachers. If a child sees that his mother asks him to tidy his/her place up but she doesn’t keep things in order, the child will perceive that tidying up is something so difficult, that when (s)he becomes an adult, it can be acceptable for him/her to be untidy. If a child is demanded to be focused while learning, and his/her father loses his temper for no real reason, and always gets easily distracted, the child may learn that the focusing ability is not very valuable for an adult. And so on and so forth.
It is very difficult to admit that we didn’t have a good enough model in:
- focusing on task one at a time, paying adequate attention depending on the priority,
- organizing one’s work area, material to be learned, and schedule,
- scheduling the resources to achieve productiveness in managing resources and fulfilling objectives.
This means that your mother, father, and teachers have not been suitable enough as models in preparing us to succeed in life as adults. And this is very difficult to conceive in the first instance. As you talk to others about what is considered to be normal in the families and schools that you were a part of, you become aware of the fact that this also implies a full half of the glass.
If you haven’t received a model and still others succeed, this means that you can succeed as well, by following a suitable model. You can take this model employing modeling, and by attending certain courses or individual training programs (such as the efficient learning consultancy sessions). If you haven’t received a model, it is not your fault, nor the fault of those who did not know.
If you choose to become aware of what you lack, then it is in your power to acquire the abilities that help you be the best ”you” that you can be.
I consider that efficient learning underlies personal development if and only if each person chooses to use their efficient learning ability to improve themselves in the areas where they set out to, i.e. train their abilities and achieve performances, not just pass an exam, join an institution, get a promotion, or fill his time doing something intellectually pleasant.
Starting from their focusing abilities, each person can organize their attention, tasks, office work and schedule, so that they would be efficient, productive in what they set out to do, whether it is about an activity implying study or execution. These abilities are easily acquired when a successful model is already available, and those who want to perform only need to implement certain techniques or strategies.
Starting from self-organizing, concentration is possible depending on how organized each person’s space and time is. In a tidy office and with a flexible schedule, one finds it easy to focus, but also to really succeed in organizing one’s space and schedule, one must have a model.
For somebody who doesn’t have a model, but wants to enjoy organization, focus, and productiveness, the techniques might seem difficult at first, especially when there is no awareness of the final purpose and benefit: what would be the point of trying to do better, faster, more, if it is not clear what you will get from it, or it seems too difficult?
For somebody who wants productiveness, it is not enough to only enjoy focus and organization in space and time, but one also needs a model of order, a model of planning, a model of focus, and even more, to study, test, and implement patiently until the optimal combination becomes functional. Actually, everybody wants to create a functional system in their own life, which they could count on when they set objectives for themselves. It’s just that some get there using direct paths, some get there using detours, while most don’t get there at all. Which category do you set out to be part of?
Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant 2016-present Translation by Cristiana Brezeanu of the article ”Legăturile dintre concentrare, organizare, productivitate și modelare”, previously published on the 20th of June 2020 on Discerne. Originally written in 2016. Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant, all rights reserved.
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