IMPROVE ATTENTION WITH ONLINE CAT COACHING
Do you suffer from attention issues? Find how not to let attention become a problem in your CAT preparation. by IIM Skills- online CAT coaching
We as humans have a very small reserve of will power. Most of us spend most of our free time daydreaming. As someone who is preparing for CAT through online CAT coaching, it can sometimes be difficult to maintain focus for a long time.
In today’s world, with so many distractions, especially our smartphone, our attention span is getting shorter. Most of the people are distracted and not present in the moment or focused on what they are doing. They are always either on their phone texting, chatting, tweeting, checking mail, browsing social media, or youtube.
Our abilities to focus and concentrate on a task directly contribute to the successful completion of our goals. But only if the thieves of attention allow you to. Researchers found that even if you are not using your phone, the mere presence of it in the vicinity can affect your focus.
This is a challenge for people who are studying for CAT with online CAT coaching. Big challenge. Because most of our work today happened over the internet. And this is the reason we cannot just get rid of the internet connection to reclaim our attention powers.
As soon as our mobile rings, our attention goes for a toss. We instantly forget what we were thinking or doing. The only now becomes to pick up that phone.
App notifications are designed to be captivating. They create a sense of urgency. But are these notifications really urgent? Mostly not.
Preparation for CAT requires long term focus consistently for months. If you are a working professional, it is even more important because you have no time to waste. Your ability to focus on your online CAT coaching is the chief skill required to score a high percentile.
This is because the internet is designed in such a way, that is interrupting your focus. Every website has notifications, ads and there are so many types of content that it is impossible to feel the pull. In these conditions, the student who can focus and give more time to the CAT preparation will undoubtedly bring a higher CAT percentile.
Our brain is an organ that constantly craves for new and interesting activities. This chase for the ‘novelty’ is regulated by a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Before the popularity of high-speed internet, people had normal levels of dopamine, just enough required for motivation for day to day tasks. But since high-speed internet facilitated the use of sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube, humans have had unprecedented spikes in the levels of dopamine.
These high levels are unhealthy and unproductive. These take our attention away from necessary tasks requiring long-term motivation and focuses our attention on short-term chases, like finding how many likes we got on our social media post, that provide instant gratification.
Although, there is nothing wrong with using these websites. You can use them for productive purposes. You will likely get a lot of study material and resources for CAT on Facebook and Youtube.
But it is important to wary of the way you are using these websites. You must not waste time when you should be preparing for the CAT exam.
A few minutes each day is fine but more than that is unhealthy as well as unnecessary.
It is important to break this habit before it destroys you. If you are preparing for CAT, you need to understand that there is a lot of competition. CAT 2020 will likely be given by at least 2.5 lac students. A big portion of those is very seriously preparing for CAT with online coaching and other methods. They are ready to fight tooth and nail.
Competition is high and the most serious students who bring the highest percentile in CAT will be those who manage to control their distractions and focus their attention on just CAT preparation.
How to increase attention span for online CAT coaching
The biggest myth that parents have today is that students should perform much better than them since it is easy and we have so many resources, because of the internet. It is a difficult task to convince people that more resources are accompanied by more sources of distraction too.
The internet is surely a big source of knowledge, but it is also a big source of everything, including entertainment. And when the best entertainment possible is just a few clicks away, your brain cannot resist for long. Since the brain has very limited willpower, it eventually will be defeated in the face of the bombardment of entertainment sources.
How do you then ensure that your CAT preparation stays on track? There are a few ways that will surely help your preparation for CAT. These are techniques that are recommended by researchers and teachers at IIM Skills- online CAT coaching, and followed by all the people who have successfully managed to curb their distractions and reclaim their attention. Achieving this feat would be a difficult task but with regular practice, you will get better.
Whenever you feel weak willpower, just remember your goal, ie. CAT exam.
Use Big Screens
Bigger screens are better for attention. This is why it is easier to focus on the movie in a theatre but not at your home. When you are preparing for CAT with an online CAT coaching, we recommend you use large screen devices. Your laptop is good, try not to use your phone. If you have a smart TV, that’d be best, as long as you don’t disturb others, or be disturbed, at your house.
Phones are the most ineffective way to be productive, especially if you have many apps installed on it. It is very easy to get distracted while studying on a phone. A phone may be a good resource for revisions while you are on a bus or going to or coming back from the office or college.
But if you reading a new topic that requires focus, take out time and sit properly by following this and other techniques for attention.
A great advantage of online CAT coaching is that you get video sessions to learn. Watching videos is much easier than reading a book. Videos are interactive and engage more senses out of the 5 senses we have.
We at IIM Skills provide video lectures that students can open and learn anytime that suits them. We know that it is difficult to focus for online CAT coaching students already since they have work in the day or they are in the final year of their college and it is difficult to concentrate when you are physically tired. This is why most of our online course for CAT contains video tutorials.
You also save time since you do not have to travel to the coaching center and back, which saves about 1 hour at least. This gives you an extra 30 hours a month. Imagine, what could happen in 30 hours.
Online CAT coaching has some major advantages over classroom coaching. You can study at your own pace and judge your performance. No other online CAT course can compete with our personalized online CAT coaching. Our course is the most dynamic and adjusts according to the students’ needs.
You can track your progress throughout the course. You can work more on your weaknesses while there’s still time.
Being result-oriented means whenever you sit to study, check if you have accomplished your goal for the study session. Check if you are fulfilling your daily targets and weekly targets. If you are on track, your whole preparation will be great and as planned. If you are frequently missing targets, without any reason, this means you need to improve your attention.
Take Sectional Tests
Taking sectional tests after completing every section or topic helps you identify detailed weaknesses that are hard to do in a full test. Do not wait for the full preparation to be over before attempting mock tests. The sooner you build a practice for the CAT exam the better. You must not face attention issues when writing the CAT exam.
It also helps you get ready to sit for straight 3 hours during the CAT exam.
Temporarily Disable Social Media
Let us clarify first, that we are not telling you to close your social media accounts. But when you are preparing for an exam as competitive as CAT, you need to have better control of your time.
Limit your social media use to a few minutes during the day. Preferably use it during breaks or during a commute, where it is impossible to study or work.
As a management student, you will anyway have no time to waste on things like social media. It may not be a bad idea to phase it out now.
But when you are studying, you need to absolutely, disable social media notifications. They are not an emergency. And if there is an emergency, people would rather call than text on Facebook. Allow yourself a few minutes every day to visit CAT Facebook groups and keep up with others and the latest trends. We understand that CAT Facebook groups are a good way for all competitors to connect with previous toppers, alumni and acclaimed teachers. But there is a time for everything.
Stop checking for new notifications every few minutes. These app notifications come every few minutes. If you find it hard to control, just keep your phone in another room. Since it requires an effort to go to a different room, you are less likely to get distracted. With practice, you will feel less obligated to check on every notification. You will feel more in control and feels great, to be honest.
A piece of advice that may sound funny but is very effective: Try to rid of all sources of distraction when you are studying. Make your room a very boring one. Where you can only see your laptop and nothing else more interesting. Out of sight, out of mind.
Simply put, make your environment as boring as possible when trying to focus. Research shows even having a phone in the room can be distracting.
You should also practice controlling your internet behavior at other times during work or college. Keep specific times for checking the mail. Check e-mails in bulk. Limit your social media use to only lunch breaks. It’s highly advised to just turn off social media notifications or at least mute them. They are not a priority. This is not just for CAT preparation but just for everyone.
Multi-tasking is bad for attention. It is a required skill for jobs, but researchers have proven that people who are multitasking, are more stressful in general. Their attention spans are shorter and their quality of work is poor.
Multitasking is something the brain is simply not designed to do. The man was always supposed to focus on what is at hand. Imagine if you start daydreaming while hunting a woolly mammoth back in the day. The hunter would become the hunted.
There are obvious exceptions to this. You can still perform simple tasks like listening to music, walking, exercising, cooking and stuff. But this is where it ends. You cannot do two tasks that require adequate cognitive effort, for example, reading, driving, watching TV while studying. These tasks can be done only one at a time.
Multitasking also lowers productivity and efficiency. It lowers the quality of the output. There is only one reason we do multitasking, it makes us feel better about ourselves. We feel more accomplished.
But that ‘feel’ is often not the reality. Multi-tasking causes errors and you take much longer time to do the same tasks.
There are still many people who claim that they are good at multitasking. Chances are that they have never tried anything else. In laboratory settings, these people are often the ones producing a lower quality of work than people with higher focus. It is clear that they were not aware of their own needs. They just “feel” efficient but they are not.
Besides, doing one task at a time is just a more peaceful way of working.
Multitasking may be necessary as a manager, but the multi “tasks” should not involve social media as one of them.
Take breaks every 35-40 minutes
Taking short breaks is great for attention. It’s like cooling down your overheated engine. If you have been constantly trying to focus for more than 35-40 minutes, chances are that you will need to replenish your mental resources to exercise that willpower muscle all over again.
Take a 10-minute break every 40 minutes of work or study. Beware of not using social media or phone during the break. Smartphone puts all the more stress on your brain. Take a walk or just do some stretching.
As you keep doing this, you will build your attention muscle, just like you build muscle in the gym. Sooner you will be able to sot for longer durations. Remember, CAT is not just about how much you know. It’s also about speed and efficiency.
Use your most productive time of the day
The biggest advantage of mock tests is setting or aligning your biological clock to the timing of the exam. Whenever you give mock tests, sit at the exact same duration as your CAT exam. Not just mock tests, if possible, time your study sessions on the hours of the CAT exam.
This gives a huge advantage, and you will feel that only during the CAT exam day. If your CAT exam is from 9-12 in the day, always give mock tests in that duration. If you have an afternoon session for CAT, it is even more necessary to tune your body clock. This is because most people have a habit of resting during the afternoons.
Stop sleeping in the afternoons if your CAT exam is in the afternoon session. Do not take rest. Solve mock papers in the afternoon. Try to study light during the day time before the test. Behave as if it is your exam day.
When you study for a few days, you will find out when is it the easiest for you to concentrate during the day. Use that time to the fullest. This is usually in the mornings or late nights after dinner. Do not waste that time on other activities like social media or movies or stuff.
You will get higher returns at the same time invested. This is a smart move. Challenge yourself to study non-stop during that period. Go for at least 90 minutes of uninterrupted study sessions.
Adopt healthy habits
Willpower and attention are like muscles. You can train them just like you train physically in the gym. Activities like reading, writing, meditation, physical exercise like running, swimming, are exercises for muscles of attention. Over a course of time, if you practice these, you will become strong with attention powers.
These activities put effort on your attention, and are also relaxing to do. Prepare time tables and study plans and cross-check if your preparation is on schedule. You can see improvement in your attention powers after just one session. Even though it lasts for only a few hours, but with time, the effect goes more permanent and is there all the time. There is a large body of evidence of benefits of exercise on cognitive abilities mainly attention and will power.
Probably the most important activity for cognitive health is sleep. Get adequate sleep. It is a mistake many CAT aspirants do who think that sleep is an enemy and if you are dedicated you must sacrifice sleep. The purpose and advantage of online CAT coaching are that you don’t have to sacrifice on your sleep. You can study whenever you want.
Missing hours on sleep has long-term effects on cognitive health. It reduces learning and long-term memory. Get at least 6-5 to 7 hours of sleep. The ideal is 7.5 hours. But it depends on your body.
Meditation is the most direct form of willpower exercise. Sit at a flat surface and focus on your breath. Your attention will wander every few seconds. Just bring it back on your breath. Do 5-10 minutes every day. In a few weeks, you will notice the benefits.
Meditation is simply training your attention muscles. There is no other exercise as direct as this in order to train your brain.
Researchers have found the attention improving and emotional response related effects of long-term meditation. Seems like the ancient Indian practice has many benefits endorsed by science institutions like MIT and Harvard, among other schools. There are tons of published peer-reviewed research on the effects of meditation.
Start with just 5 minutes per day. Gradually increase to 15 minutes over a few weeks. Once you develop a liking to it, you will like doing more. At first, your brain will revolt and make it difficult and soon you will begin to like it. It will be a great help for your online CAT coaching.
Spend time with Mother Nature
Exercise and meditation are probably the most direct ways to strengthen attention muscles. But there is another way that is much less boring and much more immersive. If you have a park or a garden near your home, try to spend 20 minutes there every day. You can go for a morning or an evening jog.
Nature is our natural habitat so there’s no wonder it is relaxing for our brain and body. You can witness the powerful effects of nature when you look at just a picture of something natural and you feel much more relaxed than before.
So these were some of the ways in which you can take the most advantage out of your online CAT coaching or any other classes. Many steps listed here should be followed by not only CAT aspirants as part of their CAT preparation but also for just about anyone.
Attention is an important asset to us humans. It directly contributes to our success in just about anything we do. And CAT exam is no exception to this. These steps are going to help you reclaim your attention and time so you can use it more productively and efficiently in your online CAT coaching.
It will also reduce your anxiety and make you a much more peaceful person which is a rare quality these days.
Read more articles helpful in your cat preparation in our CAT exam blog.