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Studying: Getting Into the Productivity ZoneBy Evan Nehring
For all of my nocturnal drama in the library, I rarely studied there. I have this need to control my environment in order to get into the productivity zone. Quiet is one thing. Yes, libraries are pretty quiet. I didn't have a problem with that, but I didn't always need quiet. Sometimes I would shift to another sort of studying and want to put on some music. Sometimes I would pace with a book or with flash cards. Sometimes I’d read out loud to myself.
Then there are the interruptions. I've always had a hard time with interruptions. Sometimes the threat of interruption is as bad as the interruption itself. In college, that often meant studying on our couch in the apartment with my feet up and books spread around me.
Getting into the zone with thought work requires freedom from interruption and freedom from the threat of interruption. But there’s more. We need a cerebral intensity, a mental energy that propels us forward like a runner on race day. Sometimes that requires complete silence. Sometimes that works better with music or physical motion. I have writing sessions where I have music aggressively blaring in my headphones while I settle into complete focus on my composition. Then I might need to shut it off.
Sometimes being alone can lead to a point of stagnation. You study, write or work for a while and then you just feel like you need to be with someone. There are ways of hanging out without getting completely out of the productivity zone, or maybe you need a break. If you study best with a buddy, find a way to get in the zone together. That was almost never true with me.
The important thing, though, is to find the zone and get in it as often as you can.