Sunday, June 9, 2013

Studyscapes: A distracted week

This week I had much more trouble focusing than last week. Maybe that's because it was dreary and rainy for almost the entire week here in Syracuse. Maybe it's because I've been exercising regularly and my system is understandably confused by all the endorphins surging through my system, causing me to be twitchy and easily distracted while studying.

I have been incapable of working at home recently. This is good, because it gets me out of the house. This is bad because I have to lug books and my laptop around which angers my back. Another plus is that I am starting to have a vaguely-responsible schedule where I work during the day and socialize at night. It's not quite responsible yet, because I'm eating dinner at 8:30pm or 9:00pm and staying up until 2:00am, but baby steps. (Actually, for the past few days I've been going to bed at around 3:00am and waking up at noon. We're stopping that little trend tomorrow, because I'm going to a friend's thesis defense that begins at the ungodly early hour of.... 11:00am. Maybe I'll show up in my pajamas.)

One thing I do when I cannot concentrate is play a television show I really, really like in the background. It works better if the show is being piped into my ears through headphones. This sounds counter-intuitive and as if I'm just terrible at studying and giving myself an excuse to watch television instead of study, but it really does work for me. The requirements for me to do this are:

It has to be a show I've basically memorized. Shows go in and out of respectable choices based on how much I've been watching them lately. There was a time when the old seasons of Arrested Development was my go-to -- but I'm too rusty on that now. I get too distracted when it's on. I'm on an H. Jon Benjamin kick right now (if I had to marry a voice, it would be that voice) so I can only study while listening to Archer or Bob's Burgers. Also, I can never look at the show for this to work. It needs to be essentially a radio show - something you only listen to. (BTW, Archer is AMAZING for this. As is Bob's Burgers. You barely need to look at the show to understand what is going on, and 90% of the jokes.) (Actually, I tend to like shows that are less-visual and more audio based. I watch a lot of TV, but very rarely "watch" it. I knit, putter around, clean, cook, or poke around the internet with the TV on in the background. I like to follow along with a show even if I physically don't watch the majority of it. This can be fun, too, because I'll occasionally finally "get" or "see" visual gags on my fifth or sixth viewing of an episode.)

The magical thing about this is that as soon as the show comes on, I immediately start working. No gap. No point where I stop to watch the show for a few minutes. And then - the most magical thing about this system - is that eventually, I'll get so interested in my work that listening to the show in the background is distracting me, so I'll quickly snap it off to better concentrate.

It's great. It really "eases" me into studying when I'm feeling tired or crabby or just don't want to start.

My desktop picture is of some of my favorite wing-tipped shoes! And in this picture, you can see the shoes that were on my feet! Hah! 

Notes that I hand-write invariably have arrows, flow-charts, and things written in the margins.

This is the detritus of a piece of "classic coffee cake" from Starbucks. And a latte. The coffee cake was really good, but left crumbs everywhere. It was chilly that day, so I was wearing black corduroys. They were clean when I put them on that morning. They were not clean the moment I tackled the crumbly coffee cake. This didn't bother me too much because I always look pretty sloppy.

And this is my 'scape today. Those awesome pink glasses? I wear them OVER my prescription thick-black-framed secretary style glasses. Because I am the coolest. Sometimes people will look at me strangely, or laugh, when I pull them off. I don't care. I love these sunglasses.

Also featured in this picture is my gigantic bottle of lime seltzer water. It's difficult for me to drink straight water sometimes. So I've been buying lots and lots of seltzer water. I can still drink it if I cut seltzer water with regular water (it still retains a tiny bit of fizz) so that helps me be somewhat economical. 

Moses Mendelssohn is, of course, still awesome.


  1. During the summer, or whenever I can get away with it, I effectively become nocturnal, sleeping from 4AM to Noon --- so I am right there with you! As for showing up in pajamas, that depends on how dress the pjs are ;)

    For me its either a TV show I know so well I could quote (like Fraiser) or music I've heard a million times. Unless I am in the ZONE (where I need quiet) otherwise I need those little distractions to keep me on pace --- otherwise I fear I'd lose my sense of time even more!

    1. M!! So I guess I'm not the only person who listens to television shows they know really well! (I also listen to foreign music -- or classical music -- if any words are in a language I don't know, it's much easier to work while listening to it!)

      And yes, I am moderately nocturnal, I think. ;-)