Friday, January 10, 2020

When The Mind Goes For A Walk: Navigating The Switch-On, Switch-Off Cycle In Class

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I was one of the people in the University who landed there right after my 12th, straight from school. After a strict regime in school with an 8AM-to-4PM-schedule, the five hours of lectures in the University seemed like a ultra-cool upgrade during my first semester. But right after three months of the first semester, even the five hours felt a little difficult some days. Five hours is easy, you think, right? Looks like it's what you get used to. When your brain is used to 8 hours a day, it wants 5 hours a day. When your brain is used to 5 hours a day, it wants 3 hours a day. 

Little greedy there, ain't we?

I try to listen in all classes. They help greatly when you are studying for exams, even if during the class it feels like the professors aren't really doing much.  But, your brain is bound to get switched off. It takes a lot of energy and determination to stay in a switch-on mode all the time! Like my dad used to say, your mind goes for a walk. It's very difficult to control your mind and train it to listen, especially the subjects where the faculty is not particularly making it interesting, or if the subject itself is a dry one or your not-so-favourite one. So, some days, your mind just won't listen to you. Mine just goes: on, off, on , off, on, off, on, off, until that dispersal bell blares.

It doesn't happen all days. But, I can't say it never happens, either. Sometimes, it's okay to go on a sub-level, partial on-off mode, when it's just way too boring. Obviously, your mind would choose to take a walk and go to far more interesting places (maybe, you are thinking about a hot cup of coffee, or the morning breakfast you had to skip to get to class on time, or the movie you watched the previous day), and unleash the daydreamer in you. 

But, you can't let it happen everyday. So, here are a few things that I have seen people do to beat it. 

Sit on the first row, or wherever the teacher is going to look most. Yes, it may be difficult to wander off when somebody is staring right at you more often. Sometimes, the teacher may be looking for a sign of understanding/comprehension, and it's impossible to fake it all the time. So, I think you'd automatically start paying more attention.

Take notes. This is by far the best. Take down everything the teacher is saying. You would have to listen for that, so it's next to impossible to daydream at the same time. However, there might be days when you don't exactly want to write so much, so you could try the other methods (or just give yourself a cheat day!).

Ask Doubts. This will not work for all. If you are like me, you might just prefer not to talk much in class. But, if you are the kind that don't mind, keep asking doubts (stick to valid ones though, please). You might develop an interest in the subject, and also make yourself known to the faculty, and keep track of the class. 

Sit with someone who asks a lot of doubts. Now, this is for you if you don't raise your voice in class much. Confused how this might help? The teacher is going to turn every time your friend raises a doubt during the class. Even if you wander off, you'll be pulled back to reality soon enough that you don't miss anything important. 

And, I mostly do the first two. It works pretty well with me. But, all of us are different, and we have our own way of managing things. If you struggle with concentrating in class, and find yourself getting into off-mode pretty often, you could try one of these, or a combination of them. I'm sure it can help to an extent, until you make your own tweaks to it and help yourself. 

But, hey, side-note: Sometimes the best of ideas you get is when your mind goes for a walk. So, when you get one, do jot it down and work on it later! Good luck!

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