Aggressive driving is characterized by the tendency to view driving as a competition rather than as a means of getting from one place to another. While most drivers are content to move along with the flow of traffic, aggressive drivers weave from lane to lane, seeking any advantage that will place them ahead of others. Aggressive drivers are also more likely to tailgate and honk the horn in an effort to intimidate other drivers or simply to move them along faster. When confronted with heavy traffic, aggressive drivers often engage in dangerous behavior such as passing on the right, using utility or turn lanes as driving lanes, and ignoring traffic signals. Paradoxically, aggressive drivers often pride themselves on their skill. They see other, more cautious drivers as the problem, not themselves.
The National Academies' Institute of Medicine now recommends an hour per day of a total physical activity such as walking, stair-climbing, or swimming. Many Americans fall far short of reaching this goal. Some are still trying to catch up to the previous guideline of thirty minutes of activity five times per week. A century ago, Americans would have found it easier to exercise for an hour per day. Without cars, people walked more, and without modern labor-saving devices, life required more physical exertion. Today, however, many Americans sit at a desk all day and come home to sit in front of a TV or computer. Even those who make an effort to exercise often find that they lack the time.
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One of the most valuable skills a student can develop is focus. Focus is the ability to concentrate on one thing for an extended period of time, shutting out everything else. The person who is focus has no trouble with homework; her mind is on the task until it is finished. The focused person has no trouble concentrating during a test. She does not even notice the voice of the lecturer in adjacent classroom, the tapping pencil of the student two rows over, or her instructors squeaking chair.
People differ widely in their ability to concentrate. Some seem capable of laserlike focus on any job until completed. Others are easily distracted, jumping up from homework to do a hundred small but suddenly urgent tasks as the homework gets pushed further into the background. Like other skills, the ability to focus can be learned and reinforced through practice. To improve your ability to concentrate, start by establishing a set time and place to study. If possible, study at the time and in the same place every day. Establishing a routine gives study the importance it observes and helps make studying a habit. Then, to keep yourself on task, set a small timer as you begin studying. Start by setting the timer to go off after fifteen minutes. Until the timer goes off, give studying your full attention. If your mind wanders-and it will-pull it back to the task. Then reward yourself with something small: five minutes of solitaire on your computer or a trip to the refrigerator for a glass of iced tea. Time your reward; too-about five minutes should be sufficient. Then set the timer for another fifteen minutes.
As concentration becomes a habit, that habit will spill over into the classroom, too. You will be better able to focus on your instructor's words or on the test you are taking. If extraneous noises during test still distract you, invest in a pair of earplugs to shut out noise as you take your test.
The ability to concentrate is a necessary skill. Fortunately, it is a skill that can be improved with effort.