At the start of this past school year, I came to the slightly brutal realization that I lacked the proper work habits to succeed enough in my academic setting to be worthy of a shot at one of my desired universities. My study process was short of what a true prospect of those schools possessed. It was notably difficult for me to initiate a session of meaningful study time and if I did, the slightest distractions were able to throw off any workflow that I could muster. I knew that to have any shot of acceptance, I would have to improve my habits. I’m sure this predicament is not unknown to most of those students reading this blog. The path to actual productivity is challenging enough as it is, and students are often cursed with traversing it at the risk of great failure
In an attempt to bolster my output and construct some solid work habits, I sought out some research on how habits themselves are formed and how to create them voluntarily. In the process of this, I stumbled across some literature on the neurology of human action and habit through the work of “The Talent Code” author, Daniel Coyle, as well as Joseph Everett of “What I’ve Learned.” Both of these shared useful insights on the neurological perspective to understanding how habits function, grow, and most importantly, originate.
The tactics I learned of and later implemented myself for the generation productive habits all centred around the concept of Myelin and signal speed. The science of this looks at what constructs human action itself at a biological level essentially. The human brain is composed of 40% Grey matter. The remaining 60% is a composition of what's known as White matter. This White matter is responsible for much of human actin from where it is situated underneath the brain's Grey matter. It consists of long end nerve fibres insulated by myelin sheaths. It is these very sheaths that make white matter white as it is a fatty matter. Myelin sheaths are created as a result of an action being performed. The repetition of an action being carried out has an interesting effect on the associated neurons, that being an additional wrap of myelin around the axon of a related neuron.
The totality of this means that practicing a task has a physical effect on the neurons required for that task. This effect is also what allows for actions to be carried out with greater ease as a larger accumulation of myelin wraps allow for nerve impulses to travel more effectively and with less energy. The impact cannot be overstated: It is estimated that an unmyelinated neuron has a signal speed of approximately 2m/h whereas a fully myelinated cell has a signal speed of around 200m/h.
Increasing the signal speed of the neurons related to an action is a necessary task to accomplish while in the pursuit of positive habit creation. If one can construct a significant structure of adequately myelinated neurons, actions that normally could required amounts of willpower that drain most individuals can be executed with ease and with exemplary effectiveness. As such, to properly build the habit of consistent studying, for example, it was crucial for me to make sure that I was repeating that action as many times as I could. I did this by setting a quota for study sessions outside of school. This quota demanded that I study for two sessions a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
Following this structure was particularly challenging at first. However, as I continued with my new regiment I noticed a shift in how much of my willpower needed to be expended to initiate and then stick to a session of studying. After a few weeks, there was a comparable difference in how easily I could pick up the necessary materials to study and then do so prior to the creation of the frequent study cycle and after some time following it. After three or so months, a multi-hour study block was an easy enough thing for me to tackle.
Understanding the science of habits and how to effectively reach a notable skill level in regard to the performance of an action is most important to students aiming to perform at the high levels demanded by today’s academic climate. Being aware of how processes can be made more automatic for my brain to run through allowed me to engineer approach productivity that leads to the creation of an invaluable skill. I hope that your take away from this blog is that there is a way for you to build the abilities that perhaps can seem beyond your capacity and that throughout the correct application of proper insight and knowledge, you can achieve whatever it be that you seek.
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