Mark Needham

Thoughts on Software Development

Study until your mind wanders

with 2 comments

I’ve previously found it very difficult to read math heavy content which has made it challenging to read Distributed Computing which I bought last May.

After several false starts where I gave up after getting frustrated that I couldn’t understand things the first time around and forgot everything if I left it a couple of days I decided to try again with a different approach.

I’ve been trying a technique I learned from Mini Habits where every day I have a (very small) goal of reading one page of the book. Having such a small goal means that I can read the material as slowly as I like (repeating previous days if necessary).

So far I’ve read 4 chapters (~100 pages) over the last month – some days I read 6 or 7 pages, other days I only manage one. The key is to keep the rhythm of reading something.

I tried doing the reading at different times of the day – on the bus on the way to work, in the evening before going to sleep – and found that for me the best time is immediately when I wake up. To minimise my mind wandering I don’t read any emails, chat messages or social media accounts before I start.

Despite this, I’ve noticed that after a while my mind starts to wander while reading proofs and that’s a signal for me to stop for the day. When I pick up again the next day I’ve often found that I understand what I was having difficulty with.

I’ve read that meditation prior to studying is an effective way to quiet the mind and would be a more ‘on demand’ way of achieving the concentration required to read this type of material. I’ve never done any meditation so if anyone has any tips on where to start that’d be helpful.

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Written by Mark Needham

December 31st, 2015 at 10:47 am

  • Read “Mindfulness in Plain English”… meditation is no more complicated than in that book (and all it needs is exactly the same discipline you mention here: consistency).

  • Great, thanks! Have bought that and will start reading 🙂