The technology you think is making you more productive is actually holding you back.
Choose anti-technology triggers
Now train yourself to use your new tools. Recently I spoke about how creating triggers can help your mind kick bad habits and create good ones. Set up triggers to establish an anti-tech habit. You can listen to my episode on how to divorce your computer for the finer points. MG decides that his anti-tech trigger will be putting on his shoes when he’s leaving his dorm room to attend a lecture (did I mention he is living in a castle this semester? He puts his shoes on when he’s getting ready to leave his room. In the castle. Where he lives. I guess he needs shoes because drawbridges have splinters. I’m so happy for him, and not at all jealous. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy lol).
From now on, when he puts on his shoes to leave for lecture, he sets his computer in a nook in his room and turns his phone off (not to silent or vibrate, but off). Then he takes his notebook, pens, and his finely-crafted .5 mm titanium pencil and puts those in his knapsack.
The best rule of thumb is to to engage with your professor, not the internet
To really drive it in, he spends a few minutes rehearsing these movements to get muscle memory to start to kick in. He does it until he thinks of the path to the lecture hall as a mystical veil between the worlds, where high-tech distracting gadgets can not pass.
Identify your triggers for shelving your tech. If you can’t always leave your laptop at home because you need it for your extracurricular robot battle competition, still choose a trigger that it’s time to eliminate it. When you put your laptop into your backpack before lecture, boom! That’s when you know it’s time. Instead of just closing the cover, you shut it down entirely, and don’t turn it on in class.
Or the trigger could be the classroom door. As part of entering and sitting down, off goes the high tech, and out comes the low tech. Ask your friends for help. Give them leverage. They have permission to publicly share the screen captures of last week’s Snapchat. Since your mother might also be listening to this podcast, I will graciously not discuss what Snapchat is, or why you might not want that screen capture to show up on the front page of the school’s website. (Hi, mom!!)
Use offline research in addition to online
Not only does high tech derail your note-taking, but doing research purely online is limiting. People are an amazing source of knowledge. They actually know things, and sometimes they don’t put those things online.
You might think web-surfing is “broadening your horizons.” Well, it is. Sort of. It exposes you to millions of viewpoints of people who may be complete hacks. But at college, you’re spending $200 per hour for people who have known expertise. Use it! Yes, start with online research. But then go beyond. Really think about the material, and come up with really good questions to ask your professor. Grab office hours and strike up a conversation. You’ll learn better, establish a relationship with another human being, and take advantage of the chance to learn beyond what you could get from Google.
To get the most out of college experience, the best rule of thumb is to to engage with your professor, not the internet. Adopt low tech tools and establish triggers so you know when to use them. Be present in class so you can come up with good questions about the class material. Find some answers online, and use office hours for advanced concepts and relationship building. In a future episode, we’ll delve into some more tips about how you can get the most out of college without becoming a victim of technology.
This is Stever Robbins. Follow GetItDoneGuy on Twitter and Facebook. I run webinars and other programs to help people be Extraordinarily Productive, and build extraordinary careers. If you want to know more, visit SteverRobbins.com
Work Less, Do More, and have a Great Life!