Our mind can easily focus on a subject when the subject is interesting, so one strategy to use to grasp subject is to ‘create interest’ in the subject.
How do you do that?
Look for those small points in the subject material that you can be curious about and sustain the interest to remaining study subject. The question is how would you find that ‘small point in the subject you can be curious about’.
Good question. You do that by asking question, or relating to your own experience.
As an example, let us say you are reading about Planning process group in PMBOK 5th edition, page #55. Now this section is an overview of this process group. Lot of things go on in this process group, you many not remember it all. Read through the paragraph and catch any sentence that holds at least a tiny bit of interest for you. Try to think of a situation that comes to your mind as you read.
If I were to generate interest I’d read a sentence that catches my fancy and either relate to my experience or ask a question -“Significant changes occurring throughout the project life cycle triggers a need to visit one or more of the planning process and possibly some of initiating processes“. I can relate to that! In that one project we had to go back to planning table from ground up when customer scrapped entire requirement around Real Time Reporting. Bham! That generated interest for me in the subject. Now I get back on that thread and run through the section to make sense of what happens in Planning phase and how we did it all over again during execution phase in that project of mine.
This kind of ‘association’ with our (or others’) real time experience helps our mind generate/sustain interest and grasp the subject.
Hope you knew this tip, if not, now you know :).
What if the subject is brand new or you haven’t had any experience with it earlier?
There is another way to grasp the subject. And this works every time! Here’s how…
That is to trick your mind by creating scarcity.
How does this work?
Have you had this experience while taking the exam in school or college? You felt dragged answering the questions in that 3-hr exam, and suddenly the invigilator says you have only 15 more minutes to complete the exam. Now you ran through remaining questions quite easily, as if new energy flowed into you, and answered as many as you could quickly – without bothering too much about sentence structure and stuff like that. And, just before the bell went off you completed answering all the questions.
This is exactly the situation where scarcity played a role into getting your mind focus and answer remaining part of the test. Scarcity of time.
When our mind knows that it has all the day (or 3hr, 4hr – whatever is your study duration) to study a subject it finds things to be distracted about – especially if the subject is not interesting.
You then create artificial scarcity. This can be done in many ways. You need to find out which way works for you. One of the ways – is to club another interesting study activity such as writing a report, reading a chapter of another interesting subject (or knowledge area, or process) along with your primary study subject. Tell yourself that you will complete one chapter of your primary study subject in 30mins (or whatever less than reasonable time-frame is) and then will go and do that other activity.
This will result in a window of quick focus for your mind, because it knows that it has to get this done before doing that other interesting activity. It knows there is no unlimited time.
Now alternate your main study and other activity.
Couple of points of caution though.
Keep in mind that your main goal is studying primary subject. So do not take large chunk of time doing the other interesting activity. Ideally keep your main subject (PMP study) for 30-40 minutes and the other interesting subject for 10-15 mins. Second point, choose the interesting activity to be something related to your study and not distracting items like playing game or watching TV. This way you make overall progress even when you are not studying your primary subject.
Hope this tip is useful for you. Leave your comments below of your experience with this tip and/or any other tip you use successfully.
Until next tip!