Do Not Engage the Mind in The Intense Pursuit of Too Many Things at Once

On the importance of focus when learning; And a process to evaluate your learning.

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I was recently re-reading Improvement of the Mind by Isaac Watts - (17 July 1674 – 25 November 1748). English Theologian and Logician - and came across the quoted section below that struck me;

Engage not the mind in the intense pursuit of too many things at once; especially such as have no relation to one another. This will be ready to distract the understanding and hinder it from attaining perfection in any one subject of study. Such a practice gives a slight smattering of several sciences, without any solid and substantial knowledge of them, and without any real and valuable improvement; and though two or three sorts of study may be usefully carried on at once, to entertain the mind with variety, that it may not be overtired with one sort of thoughts, yet a multitude of subjects will too much distract the attention and weaken the application of the mind to any one of them.

I immediately re-read the section above and then opened up a new word document to write. In the document, I wrote down the questions below:

  1. How many subjects|skills|disciplines am I currently learning intensely?

  2. Do these subjects|skills|disciplines have any relation to each other?

  3. Why am I currently learning the subjects|skills|disciplines?

  4. Have I truly made progress in any of the subjects|skills|disciplines ?

I then proceeded to answer the questions above. Undergoing this process was interesting and revealing. The power of questions ehh!!.

Photo by Juan Pablo Rodriguez on Unsplash

It’s incredibly easy to pursue many things at the same time especially in our hyper competitive and social media world where we feel the need to know a lot to succeed; especially the need to learn a lot within a short time frame.

In conclusion, I encourage that you undergo the same process I underwent by answering the four questions in the preceding section; The questions are but a starting point.

What are thoughts on this? Do you have other questions in mind? I want to see you in the comments section and don’t forget to like this post.

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