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I am finding it difficult to concentrate on different things. Whenever I do something I just get concentrated on that and all other things fall apart. As an engineering student, I have to manage different things like my studies, extra-curricular hobbies, sports, learning musical instrument etc. Sometimes these things get mixed up and get messed up. Like during exams I will just think about the hobby or even get interested in a single subject while I have other 5 more subjects to learn.

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4 Answers 4

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TL;DR: Multitasking is not what you are after, you should instead look for a system like GTD.


I am finding it difficult to concentrate on different things.

Do you really need to concentrate on different things at the exact same time?

Whenever I do something I just get concentrated on that and all other things fall apart.

This is something that we call "tunnel vision", and is completely normal if the task requires your attention.

If you don't give the task your attention, the task will not be productive: The multitasking myth...

Sometimes these things get mixed up and get messed up.

This is easily solved by not multitasking, but rather schedule your tasks based on context / time and energy which is what is known as a Getting Things Done system. A system like GTD simply works because it takes any thoughts on your brain and keeps them away in lists of tasks, which you will progress one task at a time instead of all tasks at the same time.

Like during exams I will just think about the hobby or even get interested in a single subject while I have other 5 more subjects to learn.

That's a matter of scheduling time, so that they don't interfere with each other.

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Discipline around scheduling is key - I haven't yet looked at GTD, but aeons ago I learned using the 'Priority Management' technique and it is all based on the following:

  • Prioritise - what tasks MUST I do today
  • Define size of time slice - does this task require 2 solid hours?
  • Use time slices effectively - one task in one time slot
  • Re-prioritise - have tasks increased in priority

You must discipline yourself not to get sidetracked until your time slice is complete. You can rep-rioritise at end of time slices, or more usually at natural breaks like lunchtime or end of day

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Prioritize your tasks in whatever manner , you like. If GTD seems to be a big thing to you, just make a simple time table. And then follow it. If you have six subjects, you can decide what subject you want to read at what time. Then follow this.

If you have concentration problem, try following Pomodoro Technique. If you are working on a computer, you can use a software tool for the same or else you can simply use digital watch/mobile phone with a timer (or whatever makes you comfirtable).

Akhil, remember, man cannot really multitask. So the key is not multitasking but time slicing - working on one task at a time - fully concentrated. But know when to stop the task and start working on another. This is where your time table or prioritization will come handy.

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This should be a comment, but I can't post them for now:

I must be noted that true multitasking is something human can hardly do. What you are talking about is probably not about doing simulataneous tasks but sequential part of overlaping tasks. There are peoples that can do this easily and other not. However, the difference between the level of ability is often more related to the time cost of switching from one task to another. The good news is that this time cost can be reduced by training your brain.

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This is exactly my problem. I dont want to do things simultaneously. I want to divide my limited time to different activities. But I get hooked on one activity and try to do it better, leaving behind all other things. I want to divide my concentration and time equally between these activities. –  0xakhil Jul 19 '11 at 14:48

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