By Ewulum Ifechukwu Christopher
Introduction: The Stark Reality.
There are two set of students in this COVID-19 Pandemic. The students who are busy reflecting, Strategising, Developing their God given skills, improving themselves etc and the ones that simply squander 80 percent of their time on social media, the ones that are busy Netflixing, resting etc not knowing that in times like this, everybody is in a rainy season. while the wise students have started planting their seeds and are waiting for the dry season to harvest it, the others simply see this time as a time of rest. However, for the serious minded students who still want to maintain a good reading habit but find it difficult because of distractions etc, this work has been written to help you maintain good reading culture.
It briefly explains some tested steps on how you can develop and maintain good reading culture. the good news is that the habit of cultivating and meaning reading is learnable, nobody is born with it naturally. Most people develop it based on their ability to control themselves and form it as a habit. There are three steps in this work. The first step helps you identify some of the things that causes distractions and will not allow you to concentrate, the second part touches on self-discipline and the ways you can develop it as a habit. The third and final part discusses practical steps on how you can effectively divide your time to read for long hours.
Step 1: The first and best victory is to conquer self–Plato.
Firstly, you must take note that your life, your potential, and your possibilities are the most precious things you have. your great goal in life should be to fulfill that potential and become everything you are capable of becoming. So also, your ability to learn is unlimited. Aside other factors, your ability to excel in your Examination and school depends heavily on how you are able to cultivate the right reading culture. but if you are not careful especially in the days of your youth, you get to understand that you might not have all the time in the world. Time is priceless but the cost you will pay for wasting it can be very heavy. The point that I am driving at is that you must take time to understand yourself. There is nothing that can be so detrimental to students than not finding time to calculate how we spend our time. The question is, what are those things that eat into your time as a student? According to Henry Divine ” It is not suprising that in this 21st century, many Nigerian students have lost the virtues that make for excellence. Such virtues as focus, good time management, self discipline, hard work, and a good reading culture”. a student may be intelligent and smart, but may be performing below expectation because he is easily distracted and lacks preparation and hardwork. Be ready to spend more time on those things that sharpens you and less time on those that drain your energy, time and talent. There is a saying that Hardwork beats talent when talent does not work hard. Before venturing into what we have for today, I will first of all highlight some of the things I have figured out as distractors.
- Spending so much time on social media, watching football, movies and unnecessary Chatting..
- Procrastination: Nobody is perfect and it cannot be said that no one will totally avoid it, but it all depends on the level of control you give to it. This has a lot to do with self discipline which will be the next thing I will explain.
- Gluttony. A person that conveniently wants to read for long hours (7-10hrs) should not eat too much especially in the night, you will just start night class and boom! Sleep comes. However, This does not mean that you should go and starve yourself. In fact your brain needs a lot of glucose when you are engaged in academic activities, so you need to eat but you have to maintain it if you must read for long hours.
- Spending too much time on sleep. Scientically, it has been proven that sleep has a lot of benefits to your body and your brain, but you should not spend too much time on it or else, it can make you feel lazy especially when you have a lot of work to cover. You should be calculating the hours you devote to sleep. it should not be more than 5-6 hours per day or highest 7 hours.
- Associating with people who are not willing to read and learn. The people you associate with matters a lot. There is a saying that says “show me your friend and I will tell you who you are”. This is so true because with time you start behaving like them. So it’s time to review the company you keep..
- Other factors : psychological issues like depression, dementia etc can cause one not to read effectively. So it’s time you visit a therapist or a psychologist if you are prevented psychologically. Again, environmental factors like living in a noisy area can disrupt your ability to read effectively. Look for a public library around your vicinity or look for a quiet area.
Step 2 : Self discipline : be ready to pay the price.
Self discipline is invaluable. infact, all the principles and rules that will be stated out here depends on it. As Harry Emerson Fosdick puts it ” no horse gets anywhere until he is harnessed. No stream or gas drives anything until it is confined…no life ever grows great until it is focused , dedicated and disciplened..
Lack of self discipline explains the reason why you set goals for yourself and end up not achieving them. The point is very clear, that you cannot be a good reader if you lack self discipline.
You need to maintain self discipline as a habit. As Brain Tracy stated, “maintenance of the habit of self-discipline are a lifelong task, an ongoing battle. It never ends. The temptation to follow the path of least resistance and the expediency factor lurk continually in the back of your mind. Unfortunately, your body is always waiting for an opportunity to pounce, to lead you astray into doing what is fun, easy and unimportant rather than what is hard, tasking and necessary. This explains the reason why nobody is naturally self disciplined person, you must continously find the willpower to resist that urge. Nonetheless, Brain Tracy opines that developing the habit of self discipline involves three things.
- Ability of self-mastery: you must be able to master your own emotions,appetites and inclinations.
- Ability of self-denial: you must be able to deny yourself the easy pleasures, the temptations. For instance, a student that lacks self denial will easy be distracted while he or she is reading.
- Ability of delayed gratification: ability to put off satisfaction in the short term in order to enjoy greater rewards in the long term.
Developing self discipline : What You should know.
Firstly, you must realize that unless you change, nothing else will. Unless you read that book and smash that exam in flying colors, no one else is going to read it for you. You have to realize that you are completely responsible for your life and whatever happened to it. Whatever position you are in life is what you want it to be.
Nevertheless , you need to understand that you will not die if you sit down 7,8,9,10 hours to read. Yes they will call you Jacko, but at the end Regrets may come in when you discover that you have not utilized the opportunity you had which might never come back again because you listened to them and behaved as they want. You make that decision of what you want and accept to pay the price now to get it or you will regret it later!
Secondly, you must be consistent. One of the reasons why many people are not self disciplined is that they are not consistent. One of the things that causes this is procrastination. In Stage 3 part of this work, I will briefly give a guide on how effective planning can help you to be consistent.
Thirdly, what is your driving force or what is it that motivates you? There are times when reading becomes boring and you feel like giving up. You need a lot of motivation to continue or else you will see yourself backsliding, think of how happy you will be if you pass that exam and Excel and even passing it without any form of examination malpractice. It will not just help you in school but after school, you become stronger and resolute. It strengthens your character and personality. Think of the great men and women in the world today, all of them reached that level because of self discipline plus other things that helped them. You need to understand that it’s very important that reading requires self discipline but once you have formed it as a habit, the less difficult task it will be.
Lastly, you need to make reading a passion. This also explains why many people are not consistent. they simply don’t have the passion for reading. The reason why you can watch movies for long hours is because you are enjoying it. Look for a reading mate if you need be. I will advise you chose a person that is not that too close to you to avoid distractions from unnecessary chats.
Stage 3 : Our Goals can only be reached through the vehicle of a plan.
There is a saying that if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. You need to set for yourself clear goals and work towards them everyday. Unlock your goal achieving mechanism by deciding exactly what you really want. You must make it measurable, set a deadline for it. For instance, a student that wants to cover a nine hours reading routine will have the following reading plan
- Reading time table
- Set a deadline for each topic in the time table. This will help your subconscious mind to remind you that you have a time limit so that you don’t waste too much time on one subject.
- Makes a list of everything that could possibly hinder him from achieving it.
- Organize and write out the topics in small paper, don’t take too much topic at a time.
- organizes it by sequence and priorities.
- Use break periods to reward yourself by resting.
- Be consistently evaluating how you follow your reading plans and observe those things that usually distracts or hinder you and avoids it.
- Divides your reading hours in 3 hours and then a break, repeat it three times a day and that gives you 9 hours for the day.
- Read with objectives and at the end of the day, ask yourself, what are the new things I have learned today? .
- Switch to another subject or topic once the one you are reading starts getting boring.
- Don’t read while on his bed or in a sleeping position, it invites sleep.
- Pray before or after reading (optional).
However, if you are a night reader, you should make sure make sure that you have enough sleep before night studies and also, don’t stress your body too much during the day.
Again, Always eat little before night studies, if you have eaten too much, find time to rest while the food digests. I don’t advise drinking coffee, a person who is mentally conscious that knows he has a work to do will not sleep, especially when he is enjoying what are doing. Do you sleep easily in the night while playing game with your phone?
IN CONCLUSION, Know what works for you. Some are good at reading in the day while for others, thier best time for reading is in the night. But on a general note, learn to starve your distractions to feed your focus. It is also important that while you do the same, you should find some time to relax and enjoy for a while because all works no play makes Jack a dull boy.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Ewulum Ifechukwu Christopher is a Law student of the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus. He is a writer, An Advocate for the right core values in the society. For more questions or Enquiries, you can reach him through the following :
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