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Unlike the apprentice stage, where you tried and learned pre-existing techniques, here you combine them to come up with your own and develop your own unique style to execute your craft like nobody else. Some people try to jump straight into this stage and skip the apprenticeship stage. Often this aspect of mastery can seem scary. You are venturing into places no tutorials exist and trying to use your skills in ways nobody else has before.

Each of us knows what it is like to be distracted and be unproductive.


We often wait for motivation to strike and inspire us to start our project. In my experience, motivation happens when we start with action, which in turn sparks inspiration, and this inspiration gives us motivation to go further in a self-reinforcing loop. Even once we are motivated to action, it is easy to tinker around without direction or become distracted by social media and phone notifications. Managing and minimizing distractions is therefore critical to achieving flow and making best use of time.

Flow is the momentum you reach when you are fully focused on a task and everything seems to flow effortlessly. Flow can be quite addictive. It feels calming and gives you a sense of purpose. This rewarding feeling of flow is best described by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi :. In a study from the University of California Irvine , researchers studied the costs of interrupted work. According to the study, it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task after being interrupted.

Interrupted work also caused participants of this study to experience higher levels of stress, frustration, and mental exhaustion. A good rule of thumb is that it takes about 25 minutes of undistracted focus to reach a state of flow. Apps are designed to keep us in front of our screen as much as possible. We unlock our phones 80 times per day on average. This shows you statistics of how much time you spend staring at your screen, what apps you use the most, and now many times you unlock your phone.

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Check it out: you might be surprised how much time and focus apps are draining from you each day. Even if we know how much time we waste on our phone, it can still be difficult to battle it and focus on what is important.

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To help, I will cover some of the apps that help me stay focused at the end of this blog post. Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive ability to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skills, and are hard to replicate. Deep work is hard and shallow work is easier and in the absence of clear goals for your job, the visible busyness that surrounds shallow work becomes self-preserving.

This rule is why some students spend all night studying and still struggle, whereas others easily outperform them. I wish I had understood this rule when I was an undergraduate during exams. Once I understood this, I could avoid all-nighters and accomplish far more in much less time. The secret is to systematically increase the intensity levels of your focus by experimenting with various techniques that fit your specific lifestyle and brain. My approach is to split my projects into deep work sessions. I make a list of things I want to accomplish and focus on the task for minute periods, followed by a short break, and then repeat.

Deliberate practice is purposeful, systematic, and stretches your mind to its limits. It requires focused attention and is performed with the goal of improving performance. Regular practice is basically mindless repetition of the same task. The more we repeat a task, the more mindless it becomes. Mindless activity is the enemy of deliberate practice. Devices are usually the source of our distractions, but there are a few apps we can use to help increase productivity. Here are some of my favorite apps that I use to reduce distractions when working:.

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If you have an iPhone, use this feature! It tells you the unvarnished truth about your app use. You can set limits on specific apps or categories of apps, like social media. Once you reach the limit, the apps will be disabled. You can re-enable access for another 15 minutes each time you reach your limit. I use Trello boards to manage and plan my projects. Students who are confident in their test-taking abilities, or who at least are not crippled by anxiety and stress, tend to do better on tests.

If you do choose to retake the ACT, though, you do have the option. However, be aware that some colleges or scholarship providers may specifically request to see all your scores for a particular standardized test. If you write to ACT, Inc. Students who know they need to achieve a certain score on the ACT or who just want to leave themselves the option of retaking the test should be sure to register for the test early, preferably as high school juniors.

Typically, the last date you can retake the test occurs during the fall semester of your senior year, so plan accordingly. Nearly all colleges accept scores from either test for admissions, as well as for university scholarship awards. Request Info. Virtual Tour. Pay it Forward. Teach With Us. Degree Programs. Student Experience. Become a Student. About Us.

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