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How IAS Aspirants Can Ensure Perfect Memory Part- 2

 

A good memory is a prerequisite for performing well in not just CSE, but also in almost every other part of life. This video discusses how IAS aspirants can make their memory stronger and sharper.


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How IAS Aspirants Can Ensure Perfect Memory.

A good memory is a prerequisite for performing well in not just CSE, but also in almost every other part of life. This video discusses how IAS aspirants can make their memory stronger and sharper.


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How to Steer Clear of Analysis Paralysis during your IAS Prep

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“The maxim ‘Nothing avails but perfection’ may be spelled shorter: ‘Paralysis.'” 

~Winston Churchill

Have you ever come across a situation where you over-analyzed a problem, and later saw that all your energy of the forward movement, all the energy of taking action, had dissipated? Well, welcome to the world of analysis-paralysis. 


What is analysis-paralysis

There are, generally speaking, two kinds of problems. Let us call one type ‘fixed’ and the other type ‘fluid’. Deep analysis does produce useful results in the case of ‘fixed’ problems, where most of the underlying factors remain the same over time. However, this is not what happens when we over-analyze a situation or problem, which is ‘fluid’, in which many underlying factors change over time. 

In our search for a solution to such ‘fluid’ situations, we forget that the ground on which our problem is standing is changing all the time. So, no emergent ‘best’ solution remains that way for any duration of time, and we, and our instincts, fall into confusion, feeling dissatisfied with every solution, and eventually, we find ourselves unable to act.

The problem of over-thinking

It is usually the intelligent, the competent, and the observant who are trapped by over-thinking. Analysis is an inherent part of their nature and when faced with complex problems of the ‘fluid’ variety their natural reaction is to start thinking about the problem. Looking for possibilities and weighing them for their solution potentials. They can see many more possibilities than the average person, and they begin to construct a decision tree in their minds, composed of possibilities and their solution potentials. 

What they don’t realize is that they are dealing with a dynamic and fluid situation, that is altering with time. And the only way out, in such situations, is to take quick action, based on a snapshot of the problem at any one moment in time. 

There is no ‘one solution’ to the problem since the problem itself is not ‘one’. It is, in fact, a series of similar problems linked together by transitions. The solution will only come about in a series of countering actions, each meant to deal with a particular snapshot of the problem. 

“The most effective way to do it is to do it.”

~Amelia Earhart


How to avoid over-thinking

#1. As a first step, at the very start of our search for a solution, we should ask ourselves this question:

  • Is this a problem that is based on factors that will remain the same over time, or 
  • Is it a problem where the underlying factors will change with time. 

#2. If it is of the first type, we can proceed with an analytical approach. However, if it is the second type of problem, we should immediately give up all hope of finding a solution through analysis. 

#3. Next, we have to understand that the only effective method of solving such problems is iterative actions. With only a brief analysis, we have to swiftly move into action mode. The steps for solving the problem are:

  • Take a snapshot of the problem, 
  • Analyse-it briefly, 
  • Perform the actions necessary to solve this particular snapshot, 
  • Finally, analyse the feedback, and iterate through the steps above again.

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” 

~Martin Luther King Jr.

You will constantly be shown more of your route as you progress down the road. You have to have faith that things will work out when you get there. You may not be able to see the whole staircase, but you can take the first step and begin climbing it. 


Action-oriented problem solving

Solving problems, using the techniques given above, enables you to think on your feet and not get bogged down by analysis-paralysis.

The UPSC Civil Services exam is designed to thoroughly test your ability to handle a variety of problems. 

The first stage of the exam, the prelims, tests your analytical thinking and problem-solving prowess. Overthinking any options out of the four might make choosing the right answer all the more complex. For instance, if we dive deep into the options, we might find that there are actually no false statements per se. There are statements that don’t fit in the particular context of the stated question. That makes over-analyses detrimental as it then opens channels for connecting unnecessary dots.

The second stage, the mains, requires quick charting out and representation skills. Any deviation from time limit can cost you the one mark that is ever so important. Just imagine sitting in the examination hall and zoning out amidst that pressure. Nobody would want that right? Yet, over-analyzers are prone to get stuck in the downward spiral of inactivity, unknowingly so, for a long period, in the quest for perfection. 

The third stage of the exam, the interview, is particularly geared for testing your ability to solve fluid problems. 

One of the questions asked in a Civil Services interview was: What happened when the wheel was invented? Just imagine the kind of answers that are possible, if you are prone to over-thinking. The range and depth of possible answers is endless. But, the candidate was not given to analysis-paralysis and the rejoinder to this snapshot of a problem was: It caused a revolution. 

The candidate got through.

Hence, we can all decide if we want to sit and over analyse everything that UPSC decides to throw our way. Or we can actually shift our focus to a more practical approach of calling a spade, a spade, and believing so. The former approach would make us very knowledgeable and an interesting person to talk to, in time. The latter would turn us into bureaucrats and the future torchbearers of this dynamic country. It’s your choice to make.

If you’re the one catching yourself over-thinking, it’s time to ask yourself-

Are you too bothered by analysis-paralysis? What strategies do you use that help you? we’d like to hear from you in the comments. Maybe we could help…


If you would like to read my inspirational book The Last Alchemist, here is the Amazon link The Last Alchemist by Aditya Joshi.

~Vikram Aditya Joshi


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How IAS Aspirants Can Prepare Joyfully.

This video is the last in the series of videos that dealt with the theme of preparing joyfully. It discusses the remaining factors that inhibit the feeling of deep contentment throughout one’s prep.


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Magical tikdam techniques to enhance your Score by 20-30 Marks in UPSC preliminary exam 2020.: Click here

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How IAS Aspirants Can Set Practical Goals.

 

Setting unrealistic goals is the second biggest reason why IAS aspirants are unable to find inner joy throughout their preparation. This video is a sequel to the previous video that discussed the foremost reason of perennial frustration during one’s prep – the inability to remain present.


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How IAS Aspirants Can Study More Effectively Through Present-Moment Awareness: Click here

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How IAS Aspirants Can Study More Effectively Through Present-Moment Awareness

 

Present-moment awareness is fundamental to doing well in all aspects of life. This video discusses the meaning of being present and how UPSC aspirants can use this powerful technique of productivity and contentment.


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How working candidates can revise at least 4 times for IAS exam: Click here

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How working candidates can revise at least 4 times for IAS exam.

 

Working candidates are perennially short of time. This video discusses the strategy that will ensure a minimum of 4 times revision before the exam.


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How to Crack IAS Exam by Studying 5 Hours Daily: Click here

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How to Crack IAS Exam by Studying 5 Hours Daily

 

This video explains the 5-hour daily study routine that will help aspirants clear the CSE.


Mistakes IAS aspirants must avoid while preparing for interview: Click here

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Mistakes IAS aspirants must avoid while preparing for interview.

 

The interview is a tricky stage of selection. The marks one gets can vary widely owing to small errors. This video highlights the common but critical mistakes which CSE candidates often commit during their interview preparation. These mistakes are costly and ought to be avoided at all costs.


What UPSC expects from candidates in an IAS Interview – V P Singh, IRPS (Interview Topper): Click here

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Strategy for Working Professionals for IAS

 

This video discusses all aspects of UPSC CSE preparation from the angle of working candidates. People who prepare while they are in a job face unique challenges as well as are blessed with special strengths. The video highlights all these and shares tips and tricks which working candidates can apply to ensure the best results.


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Why Grit Is More Important Than IQ When You’re Trying To Crack UPSC?

“Your Dreams are on the Other Side of Your Grit.”

If there is just one takeaway which we want you to remember long after you have closed this blog, it is these two equations:

Talent x Effort = Skill

Skill x Effort = Achievement

According to psychologist Angela Duckworth, the secret to outstanding achievement isn’t talent. Instead, it’s a special blend of persistence and passion that she calls “grit.”

Duckworth has spent years studying people, trying to understand what it is that makes high achievers so successful. And what she found surprised even her. It wasn’t IQ scores. It wasn’t even a degree from a top-ranking engineering or medical school that turned out to be the best predictor of success.

“It was this combination of passion and perseverance that made high achievers special,” Duckworth said. “In a word, they had grit.”

GRIT.

That’s all you need to focus as you fine tune your UPSC prep.

Being gritty, according to Duckworth, is the ability to persevere, and more! It’s about being unusually resilient and hardworking, so much so that you’re willing to continue on in the face of difficulties, obstacles and even failures. It’s about being constantly driven to improve.

<Add something which implies why talent alone/skill alone, don’t cut it>

Back to the two equations now which she uses to explain this concept:

• Talent x effort = skill

• Skill x effort = achievement

Talent is how quickly your skills improve when you invest effort. Achievement is what happens when you take your acquired skills and use them.

As you can see from the equations, effort counts twice. YOUR Perseverance at the face of difficulty Counts TWICE.

What’s the practical takeaway?

1. Sign up for the test series. Make a commitment that no matter what, you will face your scores and improve on them till you gain the mastery.

2. It means that it’s OK if you aren’t the smartest person in the room or the smartest person on the UPSC prep to begin with. Make sure that the 34 tests you give in the Prime Prelims Program, all point towards an increasing growth curve.

Our mentors will be with you at every step. We know this is not the most glamorous exercise and many of you will tend to avoid this. That’s where our specially designed courses come in.

That’s where we egg you to be a better version of yourself. Every week.

Why? Because grit will always trump talent. Or as Duckworth notes, “Our potential is one thing. What we do with it is quite another.”

We at Civilsdaily are committed to helping you in the process of figuring out your learning personalities and creating the best time table and suggesting most relevant strategies for your IAS Prep. Please take 5 minutes to fill up this Samanvaya Form. We will arrange a mentor call for you once this is done.

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[Mains 2019 Motivation] “Battle’s already fought.Now, finish it for the namesake”

 

All that has to be done has been done already. Wading through the maze of GS syllabus, understanding the Optionals at a Masters level, writing lengthy essays in a rhythm and topping it all, practising tests that prepare us for the exam time conditions; we did it all. Trust me. 

Some of us might feel highly confident. Some would be nervous. Some must be prodding over the things that should have been done. Let me tell you, this is not the time for all of these. A neurosurgeon trains himself in the most complicated of cases. But each brain tumor poses him a new challenge. It doesn’t depend on how well prepared he was in the past. It all boils down to the moments of application of his knowledge in the Operation Theatre. 

The same applies to this stage at the exam. All that matters is execution. Laser-sharp, clinical and extremely rational managerial behavior. 10 days from now, things would be different. You will be back to the relatively laid back phase and will have all the time in the world to praise/curse yourself. Just, now isn’t the time.

What are the things to keep in mind now. It’s no more a preparation strategy. Take it as a personality development article and prepare yourself in the mind as you read the points ahead:

 

Before/ between exams:

  • Glance through, do not read – The time before and between the exams is key to glance through the material you have read. It is not the time for in depth understanding and focussed reading of any topic. There’s no time too. If you haven’t read some topics before, forget it. It’s useless to read it now. You cannot memorise it, nor can you revise the other topics you are good at.
  • Make a list – Have a list of topics you want to refer to. It helps in reducing the decision fatigue on which topic to refer/ which area to focus on. Neatly break down the time, allot topics to glance through, and stick to it. If a topic is taking too much time, move on. Ensure that you give at least a cursory look to all the key areas of a paper.
  • Hold the nerves I can’t stop quoting this. In 2017 mains, I had a nervous breakdown before my Telugu Literature paper. I felt under confident and wanted to give up the exam. All I could see at that time were the topics I haven’t covered. After wasting a few precious hours, I have stuck to what I finished and revised them. I could score a decent 140 in Paper II over which I was tensed. Sometimes, it is best to see the brighter half.
  • Save the analysis for a later dayIt’s tempting at times to go to discussion forums, talk to roommates about the relative ease/difficulty of the paper. In 2017 mains, there was an essay on natural laws and most of those who confidently attempted it started worrying once they are out. Because there are so many interpretations of the topic. It impacted the next paper of a good friend of mine. 
  • Repeating the age old wisdomGet a decent amount of sleep. Eat good food and use mosquito repellants.

During the exam

As this is the most discussed part, I’ll quickly glance through the key do’s and don’ts.

Do’s:

  1. Glance through the paper. Attempt the most confident bunch first. Then, progressively decrease the time to the questions you know less and least about.
  2. Attempt all the questions.
  3. Mind the time and word limits.
  4. Fill the attendance sheet properly(I was warned in 2017 mains for making the same mistake, twice, in the attendance sheet :P)

Don’ts:

  1. No emotions attached. Fully engage your left brain. No overexcitement on seeing a couple of known questions nor hurt when the Qs seem to be falling from the sky.
  2. Spending too much time on one Q. Sometimes, we feel that we know it well, just the right fact/ argument is not striking. Leave it for later. Mark it in the paper. Come back later(if you have time).
  3. Forgetting a Q – Yes, this happens. And it happened with me. I scored a 118 in my 2017 Mains GS -3 despite not attempting the Q on nuclear technology. Actually, I forgot it. So please, double check if you have attempted all the Qs.

 

Now that I’ve ticked off the list of making lists, we’ll proceed to the final gyaan-sandesh.

  1. It’s a process you have to go through, no matter what. So, why not face it with a smile. Enjoy the process. Sure, it’s easier said than done. But then why do we all love Po so much. Because no matter how big the challenge at hand, he didn’t stop eating the dumplings.
  2. Whenever there’s a doubt, think of how far you’ve come. Many people give up preparations midway, many fail at the level of prelims, many cannot afford the enormous social pressure this exam brings. You have endured all that. And now are one step shorter to realising your dream. Respect it. Respect your efforts. You will be good. Trust me.
  3. Sometimes, it just needs one final blow. You must be knowing the story of the gold digger. Don’t give up mentally, at the last shot. 
  4. Be your best self. The highest potential you can bring, the bravest mental state you possess – these are your tools the next ten days. Be an Avenger who doesn’t just fight but fights his valiant best in times of need. Your confidence, inner peace and state of mind are your biggest strengths at this time. Not your years of preparation or the thousands of answers written.

I would like to conclude by saying that you are all on a relatively equal footing now; irrespective of the amount of work done in the past. From now on, how strong you remain and how clinically you tackle the papers one by one – as a tiger slowly waiting for it’s prey, one step at a time, with full focus – will determine how you perform.

 

All the very best. On behalf of the entire CD team.

 

Cheers!

Swati GL

Mentor

Civilsdaily

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Appreciations – Things that keep us going

Civilsdaily is touching lives like never before.

We are pushing the boundaries of content – making it richer more comprehensive and easier to absorb. Putting in place a mentorship framework to provide direction to those with no idea and confidence to crack the exam. 

We receive tons and tons of appreciation messages that we are unable to share. Thought of taking some time out of our busy schedule and sharing these.

 

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Motivation – Jishnu J Raju, AIR 132 – strategy for the last few days of prelims

Jishnu has had an exceptional journey. His last minute tips are a gold mine. He has been a regular follower of Civilsdaily and has penned down these tips for aspirants. 

 

Dear All

Given that the prelims exam is due in a fortnight, one of the most frequent queries I am getting is how to go about the remaining days before the Prelims.

So I thought I would place myself as a candidate writing this year’s prelims and write down what I would have down!

I had taken prelims 5 times, and I didn’t fail a single time. I was a ‘good boy’ till maybe my 2nd attempt, wherein I would have made a plan for Prelims 2 months back and by now I would have somehow finished revising that at least once. But then I didn’t get a Rank in those attempts.

After those 2 attempts, given my strong foundation, I didn’t care much to read those books again and again, but focused on Current Affairs and Test Series, a lot of them! So any veteran out there, who feel like he hasn’t done enough, don’t worry guys! If you had done well in the past, you would continue to do well. I wouldn’t dare to give any tips to them!

My focus is on the first and second attempters, whom I believe, would have done one (or more) revisions and may be prepared a plan for the 14 odd days to come. Don’t worry. I don’t wish to alter that plan but would like to suggest some things which worked for me.

For the Next 10 Days

Don’t stop READING: follow your plan, but make sure you give a quick read of Modern India, Polity, Current Affairs, and Environment.

Give more time to test series: do more tests and do it quickly. As in, finish a test and its review in one hour! Keep doing more and more tests.

Go through some fact-based current affairs compilations: like GkToday quiz or Bankers’ Adda compilations. Leave questions like appointments, film/sports awards, etc, but study Summits, exam relevant awards, new discoveries (especially butterfly, bananas and the like!).

Compilations for last 4-5 months should do.

Last 4 days

  • Just revise the areas you might keep forgetting like the Part B of Spectrum covering many commissions, press, leaders, etc., National Parks and its specialties, the appendix of Lakshmikanth, etc.
  • Do Map work, especially the places in the news. The neighborhood (Myanmar, Pakistan), Middle East, etc.
  • Do some easy tests like first 7-8 tests of any test series or maybe retake some currents affairs test, so that your mind is conditioned to approach the actual prelims with a positive outlook rather than being doubtful.

I imagine some of you might be down, without confidence. I also had such phases before prelims. Even when I scored 176 in prelims 2016, sitting before the actual question paper, I was a doubting Thomas. But just consider this: If you are one to weighed down by just an exam, how will you manage a district in its crisis. You are really better than what you imagine you are.

Trust me, if you have been genuine with yourself, you would clear the prelims. Prelims is just a phase to weed out the non-serious candidates. You are definitely not one of them! All the Best.


 

We at Civilsdaily are committed to helping you in the process of figuring out your learning personalities and creating the best time table and suggesting most relevant strategies for your IAS Prep. Please take 5 minutes to fill up this Samanvaya Form. We will arrange a mentor call for you once this is done.

 

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Rishav Mandal, AIR 58 CSE 2018 | Pol Sc. Topper with 325 Marks

 

Dear students,

Very rarely we come across toppers who talk about their highs and lows.

In this candid video, Rishav Mandal (AIR 58, CSE 2018) shares his journey to the top. He identifies the fatal mistakes that cost his first attempt and parts with the strategies he adopted to overcome them. Overall, this short video summarises the years of toil that transformed this ordinary lad into a glittering star.

His marksheet is as follows –

 

 

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5 ‘must-do’ things in the 60-day period before the prelims by Abhilash Baranwal, IAS, AIR 44

The 60-day period before the prelims is a nerve-wracking time for every aspirant. Whether one is appearing for one’s first prelims or one’s last; everyone is going through some kind of dilemma or struggling with nightmares like these:

  • Is my preparation up to the mark?
  • Have I completed all the important portions of the syllabus?
  • What if the question paper is vague?
  • Competition is so tough and the success ratio is so minuscule! Will I be able to make it?
  • How to overcome the silly mistakes I keep repeating?

If these thoughts are crossing your mind every now and then, don’t worry; you are not the only one. Almost everyone is in the same boat. The only thing you need to remember that ‘the last mile’ is always the toughest one. So keep calm, take a deep breath; and try to follow these 5 must-do things to make the most of this last window of preparation.

  1. Have a well planned Time-Table

Failing to plan is planning to fail. Keeping this in mind, ensure that you have planned your 60 Days in detail. Some inputs regarding this planning are:

1. Plan backward- Start planning from last week of May and plan backward. Eg; Revision of Test papers, maps, national Parks, your short notes in last week and so on.

Planning backwards help you in:

  • Prioritising syllabus according to the availability of time and urgency.
  • Ensuring that you do not study as per your whims and follow what is required.
  • Avoiding the frustration and panic associated with haphazard prep.

B. First plan your weeks, then break them into days. Finally, break your days into hours. You should behaving targets for each and every hour! Fix precise targets like ‘finish 40 pages of laxmikanth by 4.40 pm’ rather than vague objectives like ‘do 2 chapters of laxmikanth and 2 chapters of geography today’. Even if you set broad objectives for the day, you must set hourly-targets.

C. Follow the Pomodoro technique to utilise your time in a better manner. (Google Pomodoro.)

2. Solve and Revise UPSC Previous Years Papers and Test Series

A. It doesn’t matter how sharp your axe is if you don’t know how to use it. Solving previous year papers will help you in knowing:

  • Areas that need attention.
  • Your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Questions can and do get repeated.
  • ‘Revision’ cannot be substituted by any number of ‘Sources’. So instead of solving 100 test

papers, revise 3-4 times the ones you have already done. Accuracy comes from revision. Try to gradually increase the share of revision in your time table towards the end of your 60-day window. Keep last week solely for revision and avoid any new “yellow books” or any “indispensable free PDF”.

3. Do not ignore the Conventional Static Portion

Some difficult and obscure questions prompt students to focus on obscure architecture, minute details of technical inventions and so on. The input to output ratio is low in these areas. This also leads to a lack of revision in conventional and static parts such as geography, polity, history. Make sure that you don’t falter in questions like Fundamental duties, the age of contesting panchayat elections, cabinet mission etc. Everyone else will be getting these right. Your aim is to clear the cut off and not to get the highest marks in prelims. The conventional static part is of utmost importance. Do not ignore it for more difficult sections where after consuming loads of information you might only get one question correct.

4. Sleep, Exercise, Meditate, Healthy Diet, Study and repeat

Clocking many hours of studying at the cost of your sleep and other healthy activities won’t be much beneficial. A foggy mind is not productive. Hence have minimum 7-8 hours of sleep. If not much, allocate 15 minutes to exercise and 10 minutes to meditation in your schedule. Results will be exponentially better due to increased alertness of your mind. Also, the ‘night owls’ should try to correct their schedule so that they are at their peak on the D-day.

5. Confidence

Last but not the least, prelims is a game of confidence. Wear your confidence like armour in this battle and you will emerge victorious. Very few people will know the correct answers to more than 50 questions. People who clear prelims repeatedly are no wizards. They just believe in their ability to take calculated risks, have faith on what they have studied. They don’t doubt their preparation at the drop of a hat.

When you have confidence you know that even after not knowing a single thing about a question; options, structuring of the question, and a little analysis might give you the right answer. This confidence comes from hard work and intense practice only. If you have revised static and current affairs religiously, solved 50 test papers, revised them 3-4 times, be confident that you will succeed. It doesn’t matter how tough and vague the paper is, you will succeed. So whenever you get anxious and your heart beats out of control, believe that “ All is well’. You are already doing everything that can possibly be done. Eventually, it will turn out good for you.

In the end ” Jao aur Jee bhar ke ye 60 din padh lo kyuki koi tumse ye 60 din nahi cheen Sakta.” (Study wholeheartedly for these 60 days; for no can snatch these from you). With all due credits to Coach Khan from Chak De India.

All the best,

Abhilash Baranwal, AIR 44 (CSE 2017)


Important announcements with links:

  1. Mission Prelims Nikalo for Prelim 2019: Free revision course | List of daily questions
  2. Foundation 2020: Flagship Course for your IAS 2020 preparation
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The Deep Work Hypothesis from Shreyansh Singh, AIR 357, IAAS


Needless to say, UPSC demands nothing less from the aspirants of Civil Services. UPSC checks on your ability to quickly master hard things and the ability to produce them at an elite level, in terms of both quality and speed.

Prelims, Mains, Interviews: All the three legs of the UPSC preparation test you around these two key elements.

Deep Work is the concept that interlinks these two skills. Hard things are complex and you need to give them all of your attention and focus (also called deliberate practice). Without Deep Work, these things will take time to learn, and mistakes will be made.

Let me be very straight here. There is no way other than ‘deep work’ for your UPSC preparation.

You will need to follow four principles:

  1. You must engage in deep work itself
  2. Learn how to embrace, rather than avoid “boredom”
  3. Have a plan to “quit social media”
  4. You should definitely have a plan to “drain the shallows”

#1. Work Deeply

Our willpower gets depleted as we use it. In an environment and culture that makes deep work difficult, we have to add smart routines and rituals to our working life.

You will have to design rituals/routines to minimize the amount of our limited willpower necessary in transitions and maintain unbroken concentration.

There are 4 strategies that introduce rituals and routines to enable us to do deep work on a sustained basis:

Monastic: isolate yourself for long periods of time without distractions; no shallow work allowed

Bimodal: reserve a few consecutive days when you will be working like a monastic. You need at least one day a week

Rhythmic: take three to four hours every day to perform deep work on your studies.

Journalistic: alternate your day between deep and shallow work and it fits your blocks of time. Not recommended to try out first

#2. Transition to Deep Work

Use rituals and set routines to minimize friction in your transition to depth:

“The key to developing a deep work habit is to move beyond good intentions and add routines and rituals to your working life designed to minimize the amount of your limited willpower necessary to transition into and maintain a state of unbroken concentration.”

You must ruthlessly commit to scheduling deep work blocks into your calendar and sticking to them. Scheduling a specific time of the day in advance takes away the need to use willpower.

#3 Embrace Boredom

Due to our fast-paced lives, our brains have been re-wired and expect and request distraction. As a result, we check our smartphones at any moment of “potential boredom”. Start scheduling breaks from focus, to give in to those distractions:

You should use a technique called productive meditation, which means using your “unproductive” time to do deep thinking:

“The goal of productive meditation is to take a period in which you’re occupied physically but not mentally – walking, jogging, driving, showering – and focus your attention on a single well-defined professional problem.”

The key to successful productive meditation is repeatedly returning your attention to the problem at hand and doing this whenever your mind wanders. You have to continually practice this in order to reap the benefits.

#4. Do not engage in shallow work

“Treat shallow work with suspicion because its damage is often vastly underestimated and its importance vastly overestimated. This type of work is inevitable, but you must keep it confined to a point where it doesn’t impede your ability to take full advantage of the deeper efforts that ultimately determine your impact.”

Finally, I would like to appreciate Civilsdaily’s efforts to help you develop these coming-of-age strategies to stay ahead of the competition.

In most cases, a simple thing like talking to a mentor and getting a clearer picture of what process fits you best can make all the difference.

In the end, I would like to assert that you should build habits that can not only help you ace the UPSC, but help bring out the best version of you! 🙂


Note from CD:

We at Civilsdaily are committed to helping you in the process of figuring out your learning personalities and creating the best time table and suggesting most relevant strategies for your IAS Prep. Please take 5 minutes to fill up this Samanvaya Form. We will arrange a mentor call for you once this is done.

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Trying to Be Perfect Won’t Help. So, what will?

In our attempt to help you out with the study routines and time tables, we’ve encountered numerous questions such as: What’s the optimal timeline for completing xyz”, “What’s the optimal strategy for attempting prelims questions”, “When’s the best time to start answer writing” etc. etc.

Let’s park aside our immediate UPSC related concerns for a bit and understand the issue at hand.

The Danger of Aiming for Perfection

On the first day of class, Jerry Uelsmann, a professor at the University of Florida, divided his film photography students into two groups.

Everyone on the left side of the classroom, he explained, would be in the “quantity” group. They would be graded solely on the amount of work they produced. On the final day of class, he would tally the number of photos submitted by each student. One hundred photos would rate an A, ninety photos a B, eighty photos a C, and so on.

Meanwhile, everyone on the right side of the room would be in the “quality” group. They would be graded only on the excellence of their work. They would only need to produce one photo during the semester, but to get an A, it had to be a nearly perfect image.

At the end of the term, he was surprised to find that all the best photos were produced by the quantity group.

Amused? Or did you see this coming?

Perfectionism is not as an ideal, but rather as an unhealthy motivation that can negatively compete with your ability to make your mark.

Coming back to the problem at hand, the UPSC preparations, when faced with such questions, we try to explain that you need to start working from this day onwards and we will work with you.

But in all earnestness, here’s the mantra:

Start With Repetitions, Not Goals

It’s not the quest to achieve one perfect goal that makes you better, it’s the skills you develop from doing a volume of work. Time and again, we have emphasized on your ability to persevere as the key to cracking and eventually breaking the glass ceiling (aka, the UPSC exam)

In other words, when you think about your goals, don’t just consider the outcome you want. Focus on the repetitions that lead to that place. Focus on the piles of prelims questions (students of our test series will understand this better) that you attempt before arriving at the optimal attempt strategy. Focus on the hundreds of half baked, grammatically incorrect answers that come before the masterpiece.

Revise. Revisit.

When you look at goals this way, you start to realize that setting up a system for putting your revisions in is more important than choosing a goal.

Everyone wants to make progress. And there is only one way to do it: Take the first step, and then keep taking one step after the other.

“The best is the enemy of the good.” – Voltaire

Remember! A goal is just an event — something that you can’t totally control or predict. But the revisions are what can make the event happen. If you ignore the goals/outcomes and build habits instead, the outcomes will be there anyway.

So let’s start right now!

We at Civilsdaily are committed to helping you in the process of figuring out your learning personalities and creating the best time table and suggesting most relevant strategies for your IAS Prep.

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