If you have ever tried to self-study something you quickly realize that it’s not very easy to stay focused and be productive. This is one of the reasons why college/university is so popular, it’s not because the content is so much better than what you can find online, it’s because having that structured learning plan is very valuable. It’s much easier to stay focused when someone tells you what you need to learn and when you need to learn it. However, if you want to be successful in learning cybersecurity or anything else, it’s in your best interest to learn how to teach yourself. This way you can save a lot of money and be more efficient with your time than you would ever be relying on someone else to teach you. Here I talk about 3 major techniques that will make it easier to teach yourself:
One of the first time-wasters that people encounter when they are trying to do work is figuring out what to do. If you’ve ever had to write an essay, prepare a presentation or plan your gym workout, figuring out where to begin can be one of the hardest parts. Preplanning is the idea that you plan out what you need to do the day before you do it. By doing this you save time that would waste trying to plan it out at the moment and it’s easier to stay focused because you know what you need to do to be successful on that day. For example, rather than sitting down and trying to write an essay with no plan, it’s better to spend 15 minutes the night before and think about what you want to say in the intro, paragraphs 1-3 and then the conclusion. This way when you sit down to do it the next day you can simply start doing the work, you don’t have to think about what you need to do. Thinking about what you need to do is one of the things that make people procrastinate, it makes it seem like much more work than it needs to be.
Achieve a State of Flow
If you have done something and felt like time was flying by, you were in a state of flow. A state of flow is simply when you have the right amount of difficulty for your ability level. When you are in a state of flow you are challenged enough that you aren’t bored, but not too challenged to the point where you go into anxiety or stress. A state of flow is when you have just the right amount of challenge to be fully engaged and enjoying what you are doing.
Using this principle you can tailor how you learn or practice things. If you find yourself being bored with what you are doing, you need to find a way to make it more difficult or more challenging for you. If you find yourself getting stressed for a long period of time, you may need to slow down and start with simpler concepts (less difficulty). The more you can get into a flow state and enjoy what you’re doing, the more you will want to do it, the more you want to do it the more likely it is that you will reach mastery in whatever it is you’re doing. This is a good video that illustrates this by Firas Zahabi, he’s the head coach of Tristar gym and coached George St. Pierre (GSP), one of the best MMA fighters of all time. The conversation on being in a state of flow is at 3:00.
So the Pomodoro technique is a time management technique where you work in small repeated intervals (typically 25 minutes) with small breaks in between. By breaking up the work into small short sprints, you make yourself more efficient with the time you do study. A normal problem you will see when people study or do work is that they may sit down to work for 3 hours but they are only actively working for maybe 45 minutes out of that 3 hours. After about 45 minutes of work, people start to daydream, surf the web, work slower and all sorts of things that lower their productivity. The Pomodoro technique is meant to help you focus so that you don’t waste as much of your time.
Being able to effectively self-study or manage your own time is one of the most important skills you can develop. It’s a weird thing, many times people can get up and work a job because they have a boss telling them what to do, but when it comes to organizing your own time, it can be difficult. From primary school to University/College and then in the workforce we always have a structure that someone else made to help us organize our time and tell us what to do. If you just started working from home due to covid-19 you have probably experienced firsthand how easy it is to slack off when no one is watching you. However, this isn’t optimal, everyone should learn how to manage themselves and their own time, especially if you want to start a business or just get success in any area of your life. These 3 techniques can help you learn how to better manage your time and stay focused as you accomplish your goals.