How to learn something you find boring

Photo by Michelle Phillips on

Photo by Michelle Phillips on

Sometimes you need to learn things that really don’t interest you. B-o-r-i-n-g. But sometimes necessary. So how do you do it?

Photo credit - Jesse Orrico via Seek and find a seed of motivation
At this point, you need to dig deep. Find some reason for you to learn the thing before you. Is there some way this will improve your life? Will it improve your lifestyle? Some would say “find your why”.

Overcome brain pain
When you think about something you don’t like – a part of your brain is activated that is involved in sensing pain. So, to protect yourself, you divert your attention away from things that cause pain. One such diversion tactic is procrastination.

Positive distractions
One technique to distract yourself into positive action, is the pomodoro technique. It provides a technique for taking a break to consolidate your learning. It’s like a focused phase for consolidating your thinking and learning.

How you do it

  • Turn off all distractions
  • Set a timer for 25 minutes
  • Focus intently for those 25 minutes.
  • Reward yourself when done eg for 5 minutes or more


How your brain works
The brain works in two ways – in a deliberate, focused thinking way, and in an unfocused way a bit like daydreaming. The latter is a a form of “diffused thinking” when the brain sorts out and consolidates them. In actual fact, you need a blend of the two. Your brain needs both, and you need to recognise both, that both focused learning time and consolidation time is part of learning.

Chunk up your learning
Cover new material in chunks of time. Intersperse them with periods of diffuse thinking and periods of sleep. During this time, learning consolidation occurs. Repeat these steps.

Daily practice in short focused sessions with the consolidation phase in between helps build neural “chunks” in your brain. What’s more it helps build enthusiasm for the topic at hand.

Have a go at this method and let me know how it goes for you!


Oakley, Barbara. 2017. How to get excited about topics that bore you in Harvard Business Review, 3 July 2017.

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