Wisdom Wednesday: 11 Creative Strategies for Studying in College

Friends

Studying with a group is a well-known concept.

When it comes down to the last few weeks before the test, contact a couple of the other students in your course and create a day to do a group study. Try to keep the group generally small, no more than 8 people, or you will be fighting to stay on topic the whole night. Plan to meet up at a location on campus like the library and cram together!

Have someone quiz you: One of my favorite ways to study, especially when I’m cramming last minute, is to have a person who is not in my class and does not know the material quiz me. I give the other person my notes, note cards, textbook, or study guide and have them ask me questions from those materials in a random order. If they do not understand the material then I have them ask me more questions regarding it, which helps me learn the material better by teaching them!

For my history midterm I had to write an essay at home, memorize it, and then re-write it during class on the test. To study for this I highlighted the important points that I needed to cover, gave my friend the essay, and recited it over and over again to them. They were incredibly patient and helpful leading me through this. Reciting the essay back and forth with them definitely helped it stick in my memory and I got a 100% on that test because of it!

Beware of Caffeine

I know, it may seem like a God-send at first, but it could be killing your grade.

While there is no harm in having a little coffee to perk you up in the afternoon to study, drinking a lot of caffeine anytime in the evening could be harming you. According to the National Sleep Foundation it takes about 6 hours for one half of the caffeine effects to be eliminated.

This falls under the category of “get sleep” when you’re studying for finals or doing school work. Sleep is mandatory for your brain to function well and, despite some preconceptions, pulling all nighters for studying is a bad thing that will more than likely make it more difficult to retain the information you studied.

Move Around!

This may just be me, but I don’t learn well while I’m sitting still. While I was reciting my essay back and forth with my friend, as I mentioned in the first tip, I was pacing around, jumping up and down, gesturing with my hands, and changing the volume of my voice constantly.

For me, test taking environments are hectic. Even in complete silence, where everyone is sitting down, in my head we are all jumping and screaming and pacing. So studying in this environment helps it to stick with me when I’m in that environment taking the test.

Moving around also helps my mind remember what I’m learning as it causes me to focus on multiple things at once.

Color Code & Highlight!

As I mentioned in the first tip, I highlighted the important points in my essay that I needed to memorize. I am very much a visual learner.

Colors help our brain and eyes pull out information to store. When I was studying that essay I would highlight the main points that I needed to memorize word for word in pink, the smaller points I needed to touch on in any words in orange, and other points that I would get extra credit to mention in yellow. When I was writing the essay in class my brain would instantly hop from color to color to remember the words I highlighted.

Even when I take notes in class I use different colored highlighters or pens to make things stand out: categories, key words, vocabulary, important pieces of information.

Finish Assignments First

When it comes to studying I will do anything to procrastinate, even if it means doing my other school work.

We all think ‘it’s not procrastinating if it’s productive! I’m still getting work done’ but you’re avoiding something else that you need to get done, that is procrastinating. When it’s time to buckle down and focus on studying for a test, make sure that your other assignments (projects, power points, papers, etc.) are complete before you start. This will eliminate some of the most distracting factors, even those that are still productive to procrastinate with!

I also tend to make sure that my workspace is clean, my laundry is done, my bed is made, and the trash is taken out, all before I start. Or, knowing myself, I will do all of that instead of studying.

Log Out

I know this seems drastic. Logging out? Can’t I just close the browser?

Nope. Log out.

It’s too easy to think ‘oh I have to look this up..’ and opening your browser to go Google a piece of information for your project, only to find Facebook as your homepage, or to find yourself tapping the Tumblr bookmark button out of habit, and then finding yourself getting distracted by something on the first page. Next thing you know, it’s 3 hours later and you’ve done exactly nothing.

Log out. That way when you click that bookmark button or somehow unconsciously end up on Pinterest, you won’t see any status updates or pictures of kitties or cute marshmallow snowman recipes to distract you.

Hide Your Phone

Or have your roommate do it! Drastic times call for drastic measures. Phones are another distraction!

Treat-Yo-Self

There is a time for work, and there is a time to relax.

Every once in a while during a particularly stressful or frustrating time I take my roommates out to do something fun. Midnight In-N-Out runs are one of our favorites! Or if I know there’s a particularly stressful week coming up (such as finals or tech week) I’ll go to the store and stock up on a ton of my favorite candies.

Another thing that I do is I treat myself with one small candy for every page of work I finish. I started this technique back in middle school when I was struggling with finding motivation to do my math homework. I would set out a handful of chocolate chips or Cheez-It’s and eat one for each math problem I finished.

Acronyms, Poems, Songs…

GMOBSERITC. To you, that’s gibberish. To me, that’s the ten steps of the Stanislavsky system that I had to study for my Acting class midterm.

Studying straight facts is the most difficult thing for me. Memorizing, memorizing, memorizing. Making acronyms tends to help me (and my roommate who helped me study that) cram for important facts, even if the acronyms don’t make real words they still aid in getting all that information crammed in one space.

Write and Re-Write

Ok, so this is one of the ‘normal‘ tips that I mentioned that everyone says. But it really does work!

I use this as a form of quizzing myself on the material by writing it over and over again. There’s something about how writing things by hand helps you remember it. I’m not just talking about writing notes by hand in class but also writing by hand again and again to help improve your memory of the material.

Stop

Before you know it will reach 3am the morning before the test, and you’ll be asleep on your textbook. Know your limits. Don’t let that happen.

While sleep is important, rest away from work is also important. I had a rule during high school: If it’s not done by 9:30 it’s not worth it. I stuck with that (sometimes extending it an hour if it was an important assignment or if I had been procrastinating a ton) and I still managed to get through high school with great grades.

Now, in college, I have bumped that rule up a little bit. Considering that I don’t normally go to bed until around midnight or later now, the 9:30pm rule would not be realistic. I’ve made a mental rule that when I feel exhausted or done: to stop. That’s it.

Most importantly, my mental health and physical health matter more than my grades. I will try my best, but I won’t beat myself up over it. That’s my motto.

Originally posted on Dani Dearest.

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Wisdom Wednesday: 21 Time Management Lessons Every Student Should Know

One of the most difficult skills to master in college or at the beginning of your career is time management. You can waste a tremendous amount of time by trying to multitask or focusing too much on unimportant details.

Montreal-based designer and author Étienne Garbugli has struggled with all of that. As he’s gotten older, he’s learned how to manage his time and workload more effectively and has analyzed what’s worked for him and others.

In 2013, his viral presentation on the subject, “26 Time Management Hacks I Wish I’d Known at 20,” was named the “Most Liked Presentation” of the year by SlideShare. He followed that up earlier this year with “25 Time Management Hacks to Kickstart the New Year.”

We’ve collected the best insights from both presentations with additional context. You’d be wise to establish these habits when you’re young, because they’re as relevant to a 22-year-old intern as they are to a 50-year-old executive.

1. There is always time.

You never “run out of time.” If you didn’t finish something by the time it was due, it’s because you didn’t consider it urgent or enjoyable enough to prioritize ahead of whatever else you were doing. Sorry, your teachers are right!

2. Days always fill up faster than you’d expect.

Build in some buffer time. Avoid over-scheduling by refraining from getting too precise with plans. “The more precise a task or objective is, the easier it is to miss,” Garbugli writes.

3. You get more done when you’re in the zone.

Some days you’ll be off your game, and other times you’ll be able to maintain your focus for 12 hours straight. Take advantage of those days.

4. You should pursue activities that benefit both your professional and personal lives.

“Align your professional and personal goals for maximum efficiency,” author Chris Guillebeau says. For example, if you have no intention of moving to France or doing business there, you’d be better off spending a few months taking a course that aligns with your career interests rather than taking a French language classes.

5. There’s a difference between pushing yourself and burning out.

Hard work in college sometimes entails stretches of little sleep and relentless productivity. But even if you’re incredibly driven, you need to make time for relaxation or else your exhaustion will catch up to you and make you less productive than you otherwise would be.

6. Multitasking kills your focus.

Studies have found the brain expends energy as it readjusts its focus from one item to the next. If you’re spending your day multitasking, you’re exhausting your brain.

The Pomodoro Technique gets its name from the Italian word for “tomato.” Its inventor originally used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer to come up with the idea.

7. Distractions can be controlled.

Consider trying the Pomodoro Technique of splitting up work into uninterrupted periods of 25 minutes with three- to five-minute breaks in between, or use software like SelfControl that prevents you from using sites like Facebook or Twitter for stretches of time.

8. Accomplishing something small is the best way to get working.

A presentation you need to finish may be intimidating at 8 in the morning. Get your mind on the right path with an easy and quick task, like answering emails.

9. Being a perfectionist can be a major crutch for day-to-day activities.

Gen. George S. Patton once said, “A good plan executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”

10. More work hours don’t always result in more productivity.

Don’t kid yourself into thinking that sitting at your desk will somehow extract work from you. Do whatever you can to finish your current task by the end of a set period of time instead of working into the night.

11. Work that requires focused thinking and work that doesn’t should be separated.

If you’re constantly stopping your flow of work to rethink something, you’re slowing yourself down.

12. Menial tasks should be blocked off.

You’ll disrupt your flow if you’re sending emails or updating your planner all day. Set aside a block of time for these tasks.

13. It’s best to reply to someone as soon as you read their correspondence if it will take you a couple minutes or less.

Apply “Getting Things Done” author David Allen’s “Two-Minute Rule” to your written correspondence: If an email can be answered in that time, then respond immediately rather than setting it aside.

Nick Saban became one of the most successful college football coaches in history due to his intense focus and ability to motivate.

14. Massive tasks are easier to manage when seen as increments.

Alabama football coach Nick Saban follows a similar philosophy he calls the Process. Instead of having his players focus on winning the championship, he trains them to focus only on what is directly in front of them — each block, pass, and field goal.

15. If it takes more than 20 minutes to get started, you should change tasks.

If you’re not making progress for whatever reason, move onto something else to get back into a productive groove.

16. No two tasks ever hold the same importance.

Daily to-do lists are effective ways of scheduling your day, but it’s important to prioritize them. Start your day with the top-priority tasks, and leave the less important tasks for when you’re mentally drained.

17. Always know the one thing you really need to get done during the day.

To help prioritize, determine what task in front of you is most important, and focus your energy into getting that done as soon as possible.

18. It’s necessary to delegate some work to other people.

To be truly efficient at work, get over the fear of handing work off to someone else. “If something can be done 80% as well by someone else, delegate!” says John C. Maxwell, author of “How Successful People Think: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life.”

19. Focusing on the past will hinder progress.

Don’t distract yourself with either the successes or failures of the past. Focus instead on what’s in front of you.

20. Take notes.

Don’t assume you’ll remember every good idea that comes into your head during the day. It doesn’t matter if it’s a notebook, whiteboard, or an app like Evernote — write stuff down.

21. Keeping larger objectives in mind will help get you through your days.

“Keep your eyes on the real prize,” Garbugli writes. “Focus on the objectives, not the tasks. Keep them in sight.”

This article was originally published on Business Insider. 

 

 

Wisdom Wednesday: 33 Tips for Productivity

With the fall semester finally upon us, it’s time to get busy! Motivation is at an all time high and it’s important not to let it dwindle over the course of the semester. Being successful in college requires dedication and stamina. You will need to learn how to maintain a high degree of productivity in the face of mid-semester burn out. If you can master this task, you will be sure to experience success in all your academic endeavors. Below are 33 tips to help you increase your productivity and face the upcoming semester head on!


productivity tips

Wisdom Wednesday: Powerful Habits of the Ultra Successful

Often individuals think that successful people are born with an innate ability to lead and excel at whatever they do – or that success just comes easier for some than others. However, motivational speaker Brian Tracy says, “Successful people are simply those with successful habits.” Changing poor habits and taking the time to invest in yourself will result in empowerment and positive changes. Take a look at the 10 most powerful habits of ultra successful people:   Infographic1

Wisdom Wednesday: Why 30 is NOT the New 20

In today’s ever-changing world of work, the need for higher education has extended the developmental timeline for young adults. Twenty-somethings  are choosing to live at home longer and delay work, marriage and kids to pursue higher education goals. This trend has obvious benefits such as gaining a college degree, but it can be dangerous for young adults who assume that they have extra time to make the important decisions regarding their futures. The twenties are not a period of developmental downtime, but rather a time of great opportunity. In her powerful TED talk below, Megan Jay urges twenty-somethings to claim their twenties and make it count.

It is important for twenty-somethings to make intentional life choices because the decisions made in this decade will have a profound effect on the decades that follow. Megan Jay lists three ways that young adults can make their twenties count:

1. Gain Identity Capital

Gaining identity capital means taking steps to become who you want to be in your thirties. Twenty-somethings should take advantage of this developmental sweet spot by engaging in meaningful career exploration. A great way to achieve this is by seeking an internship in your chosen field of interest or through volunteering. These first steps will have an enormous impact on the progression of your career. Gaining identity capital is simply investing in who you want to become.

2. Use Your Weak Ties

Half of twenty-somethings are either unemployed or under-employed, but this means that half of twenty-somethings aren’t. It can be advantageous to network with other twenty-somethings who are employed. You can use these social connections to learn about opportunities and job openings that may be a good fit for you. Having an inside connection or at least knowing someone who has an inside connection could help you secure the job that you want.

3. Pick Your Family

Many young adults treat dating in their twenties as a game of musical chairs. The popular belief is that you don’t have to get married until you are thirty so it doesn’t matter what you do in the meantime. This belief couldn’t be farther from the truth. In selecting a marriage partner you should be as intentional as you would be with your career. This important decision will shape your life and future happiness, so pick your family in a meaningful way without relying on a developmental deadline.