In my first semester at university, I was instructed to read Heart of Darkness for a class. This would be the first of two times I would read Joseph Conrad’s novella; the second time was only a month ago. It took me nearly three times as long to read the book the second time, and I am now convinced that I didn’t take in a single word when I read the book that first semester – which is too bad, considering I was being graded on my comprehension of it that first time only. How many pages of textbooks, scholarly articles, or other assigned readings have you read that you haven’t absorbed a single word of?
For me, the answer was always a lot. I never saw myself a bad student, but some days, it’s just impossible to pay enough attention; whether the distraction was a lack of sleep, another class, or the sheer magnitude of work I’d been presented that day, there’s a lot that can get inside your head and make focus difficult, if not impossible. There are hundreds of perfectly valid reasons to lose focus for a reading, in a class, or while studying – especially while stressed. A 2016 study performed by the American College Health Association found that over 60% of students spoken to felt “higher than average” or “tremendous” stress over their past year. Most of the rest (over 75%) felt what they considered an “average” amount of stress in the same time frame.
"I never saw myself a bad student, but some days, it’s just impossible to pay enough attention."
Stress is not a very good motivator for positive action. I wrote most of my best papers when I had the time to sit down and really focus on their creation, and to do so over a long period of time. But stress is also inevitable, and it changes the way we approach our work for the worse. The first time I read Heart of Darkness was because I had to – and worse than that, I had a deadline to meet. That made really reading it a significant challenge.
In a Perfect World…
Unfortunately, deadlines exist, and stress is unavoidable; it’s a response that is built into our natural way of thinking, and it’s always going to be around, especially in a world where the end result of schooling is a job and career. Right now, it’s early in November, which, years ago, meant that I running out of time to read Heart of Darkness -- the semester was ending, and the essay I had to write about it was worth more of my grade than anything else up to that point. In the same way, a lot of students are running out of time to get their work done; it’s a terrifying reality for many.
"How big a difference could a small boost to focus have made through all of those readings, lectures, and study sessions?"
It’s amazing to think about the eSmartr sleeve in that light. The Cognitive Boost Technology embedded within it is designed to provide a boost to the wearer’s focus, clarity, and calm. How big a difference could a small boost to focus have made through all of those readings, lectures, and study sessions? How much more information could I have retained, given the ability to focus just a bit more strongly in a safe, natural, and drug-free way? The sleeve is mindfulness made that much easier; an incredible asset to any kind of schoolwork. Not to mention a boost that I’d have been happy to have on those long evenings spent reading pages upon pages of English literature as quickly as possible.
I did not do well in that class, no.