1. Walk west as far as you can. 2. Walk around any obstacle, if possible. 3. If faced with a mountain range, walk toward the space between 2 small peaks. 4. Repeat until reaching California.Does this heuristic give you the most efficient solution? No; however, it will get you where you want to go, and you won't waste a lot of time trying to make up your mind. Try these behavioral heuristics to increase your productivity: 1. Choose the right time. Nearly everyone has times of the day when they are most effective and times when they tend to drag. It's smart to schedule the most critical tasks for your most effective time of the day. 2. Toss it. If a task doesn't really need to be done, just get rid of it altogether. 3. Get the bad stuff out of the way. Do the unpleasant items quickly and as early in the day as possible. 4. Set a goal each day (or night). In the morning, decide what you want to accomplish that day. This can be even more effective when planned the night before. Once you have a sense of direction, you can spend all your time getting things done! 5. Eliminate all communication. While you're working, turn off the phone / cell phone, and don't check your email. Hang a sign that says, "Do not disturb," if necessary. You don't have to do this for all your tasks, but at least do it during the more difficult items. 6. Batch similar tasks together. Do all your emailing at one time. Make all your phone calls at another. Open your snail mail during a set block of time. You'll waste less time by doing your work in this fashion. 7. Set a timer. Even if a task might take hours, starting will seem easier if you simply give yourself 30 minutes to get as much done as you can. A time limit seems to help many people concentrate and work better, too. 8. Set targets. Regardless of what happens, refuse to stop until you hit your target. 9. Use the Pareto Principle. This principle states that 20% of the actions you could take will provide you with 80% of the benefits. So focus on the tasks that will accomplish the most. Unfortunately, these are frequently the tasks that are not enjoyable. You might be surprised how little you really have to do if you focus on the critical 20%. 10. Delegate some of your work. Is there anyone else who can help you? The people around you are resources. When appropriate, use their time and talents wisely to get things done more quickly. This can't always be applied to cramming that information into your brain! But it can be used to help make sure the house is study-friendly this coming Wednesday night, for example, when you need time to prepare for that term paper. 11. Set a deadline. Having a specific endpoint will really help to focus your time and energy. If a task doesn't feel necessary, chances are that it won't get done. 12. Increase your speed. It sounds silly, but this can really help. Try doing everything a little faster. Walk faster, talk faster, type faster, and read faster. Implement these heuristics into your studies and you'll find yourself getting more done in less time. The ultimate secret is to stay on task and not waste any time. These rules will help you do just that.
Does your study productivity ever get dragged down by your desire to find the best possible solution? As you seek the easiest or fastest route to your goal, you may find yourself stopped entirely. Sometimes you may even do this on purpose, to keep from having to make a decision.However, there's a work-around. Maybe you've heard of the term, "heuristic." Heuristics are rules that allow a solution to be found more quickly. With a heuristic, a resolution can be found even when the entire path isn't clear from the onset. For example, if there were no roads, but you lived in New York and wanted to make your way to California, a heuristic might be:
New semester series part threeHow do you get yourself back up and running again in the new semester? Your exams were good, bad, indifferent or a mixture. You're happy, sad, or an unusually complex combination of both. Here are seven keys to help motivate yourself to get back into study mode again.
Start smallStart with baby steps. Don’t expect yourself to be able to dive right back into maximum study mode and volume. Plan a gradual build up of your study program in terms of time and effort. But don’t use this as an excuse to stay walking like a baby.
Work in batches of 15 to 20 minutesTake 5 to 10 minute breaks. Study for 15 to 20 minutes. Learn in batches of between 3 and 9 facts. Take a half hour break every 3 hours.
Keep yourself well hydratedIt doesn’t matter if you need to run to the bathroom fairly regularly. Keep yourself hydrated. Only use coffee if your system is used to coffee (long-winded medical explanation forgone again). Use fruit as part of keeping yourself hydrated. This includes citrus, mangoes, pineapples, and watermelon.
Don’t study on a full stomachMost of your blood will be re-directed to your gastro-intestinal tract in order to digest your food, especially if the meal was rich. Rather eat light meals such as salads with low-fat dressings, and tuna.
Make your study habits consistentDo something every day for thirty days and it will stick for life. Well, almost. There is a truism in this. Be consistent. Discipline in study will serve you well in the real world in any case.
Try deal with emotions before you studyI know this sound may sound a tad unrealistic, but the more emotional baggage you bring to your study desk, the less you effectively you will study. Find your study “Zen”, whatever that might be - go and rake some Japanese garden sand or something.
But use emotions in your studyingNo, I’m not contradicting myself. What I mean is you must try bring emotion into the actual material you are studying to make it memorable. The difference is that the previous point was made to prevent you from letting outside emotion interrupt your studying. Do these help you focus? Please let me know if you have any others.... Some related articles 88 Surefire Tips for Succeeding in College 50 Tips for College Students College Dorm Checklist & More
New Semester Series Part Two.One of the hardest things about getting back to university or college is having to deal with failed exams. How on earth can they help you? Fortunately, they can, and if you attack them with the right attitude, they will help you. I'm going to show you three ways that you can use failed exams to help you improve your grades.
It forces you to be honest with yourselfI know, this one sucks and you are going to hate me for saying it! Sorry to hurt your feelings, but, a failed exam does force you to start asking questions of yourself. And this is a good thing! Don't view this as a bad thing! The only way you can improve is by learning from errors and correcting them. You will need to start asking yourself questions like "Were my study techniques for that particular exam and subject-type correct?" For example, I wouldn't be using pictures to memorize information when you are preparing for a practical Accounting exam where there are going to be doing a lot of calculations and formulae-application. So, ask yourself questions about your preparation for that exam. This includes an excellent revision timetable correctly formulated right from the start!
Take advantage of your professorsContrary to what you may believe, your professors and lecturers (with a few exceptions) actually want you to pass and do well. And when a student shows up at their door genuinely asking for help, and showing diligence, they will be more than willing to help. You will be amazed at how few students do this, and you will also be amazed at how willing your professors are to help you out. Remember, they were once students just like you. They DO remember the stresses involved in studying and taking exams. Approach them. I can almost guarantee you they will be very glad to help you. BUT, don't expect them to just give you quick solutions - you are still going to need to work hard - but their help will be invaluable
Take advantage of the "boffins" in your classThis has to be done very diplomatically. Identify those in your class who have done very well. Depending on how well you know them, see if you can glean any information from them about how they were able to do well in their exam. Some of the really clever student tend to down-play their marks, others deliberately hide their techniques because of their own insecurities and desire to be top of the class, so you need to "walk on egg-shells"! But try make head-way and see if any of them can help you. You never know! These are also the people that often don't think in the normal pattern of thinking. They truly do think "outside the box" and their approach will stretch you beyond what you thought possible. Go with the flow! It is well worth it! I hope these help you.I've got some more coming up in the next post. Any more suggestions?
1. Social networkingWe live in an age where checking Facebook, Twitter, and all the others is a deeply ingrained habit. It is so deeply ingrained that people can get withdrawal symptoms from not using them. It is now being called Information Deprivation Disorder. And this social networking can be a huge challenge to students while they are studying. It is an extremely common sight to see students studying with their iPhone or iPad or Blackberry right next to their textbooks, and every minute or two they check Facebook. Social networking is a huge distraction to your studying.
2. Social LifeThose new-found freedoms I was talking about above? Yip, they can be a terrible distraction. Imagine a police dog that has just been released from its leash and it blasts off towards its target. That's what it is like for freshmen as they embark on their first academic year after school. They have immense new liberties, and the social life can be an incredible temptation. Parties, gatherings, pub-crawls. The list is endless. But one big aspect that often suffers is academics.
3. "Romance"The reason I put this title in parentheses is because I really meant to say "sex". I had to say it because, as a doctor, all too often I have seen the aftermath of the combination of number 2 and number 3. Usually, when there is lots of number 2 above, there is little preparation and little precaution, and I have young adults, barely out of school, sitting in my office terrified either of two lines on a urine test or of a few positive blood tests. Unwanted pregnancies and Sexually-transmitted Diseases happen. A lot. A lot more than you realize. If you think they are uncommon, either you are being naive, or deliberately ignorant. These can not just ruin your academics, but they can seriously alter your life-course. Be warned.
4. Loneliness and isolationThis is especially true if you have had to move to a city far from home and don't know anybody. I really struggled when I moved to Johannesburg to study medicine, and it really did affect my studies quite drastically. These can easily lead down the road to anxiety and depression.
5. Poor living conditionsSharing a house with well-motivated, neat, helpful students is great. But, all too often you end up with one or two slackers who don't pull their weight. They don't cook. They don't do the washing. They don't do the cleaning. They leave the place a mess. Their portion of the rent is always late. Trying to study while dealing with difficult digs-mates can be incredibly distracting.
Defeating DistractionsI'm going to defer this til the next post! Ha! Sorry!
Use your mind to trick yourself
VisualizationI don't want to get all pop-psychology on you, but there is some evidence to show that visualization does have some value when we need it. Try to imagine yourself at your graduation, and in your dream job afterwards. Picture your family and significant other congratulating you and surrounding you with love and affection.
Become an Incremental TheoristSay what?! An Incremental Theorist believes that their abilities are malleable and can improve (which research shows is the case, by the way). This is opposite of Entity Theorists who believe their abilities are fixed and can't be improved (which has been shown to be false by research). You can improve. You can get better at your studies. You can develop newer skills. These are the central themes of an excellent book called Mindset : How you can fulfil your potential by Dr Carol Dweck. So how do you become an Incremental Theorist? Essentially, instead of accepting something bad happening to you as being the end of the world, rather ask yourself, "What can I learn from this experience?". Those who are Entity Theorists think that "risk and effort are two things that might reveal your inadequacies and show that you were not up to the task." How sad it would be if you let that type of mindset control your studying!
Turn it into a GameThanks to the book Mindhacker Location 3721 and following on Kindle for this reminder. See also my post How I Conquered Russia. This was one of my favorite ways of keeping myself going. I created a wargame out of my studies. Each town I conquered correlated with a section studied. Mindhacker : 60 tips, tricks and games to take your mind to the next level has some really good ideas.
FirstThe website www.stickk.com allows you to bet against yourself failing at doing certain tasks.
SecondA game called Metaphorming allows you to create your own reality around you, essentially to make your whole environment a game of your own creation by creating your own experience of life your own metaphor. You can read the original article here. So, you can become your very own Salvador Dali, weird mustache and all (except you ladies).
ThirdAnother game is called Oulipo Groceries. This originates from the French literary collective that is short for "Ouvroir de litterature potentielle" or "Workshop of Potential Literature". This means writing a short novel without, for example, the letter E. The application here would be to photocopy a chapter of your textbook, then blank out an often repeated keyword, and then try study from those pages. Sounds crazy huh? But you would be amazed at how your brain will fill in those blanks and stimulate you to make extra special note of their importance!
FourthDo not think about the story of the tortoise and the hare. I told you don't think about it! Sorry, it was impossible for you not to after I had mentioned it. But this is a bit of a game. There was a moral to this story that was taught us when we were kids that was supposedly noble. We must be noble and plod like the tortoise. But, come on! Who wants to plod like a tortoise? No, you need to be a strategic hare. Another game to play. Develop strategies in your study plans that allow you to be a plodder at times, and also allows you the freedom to do a hundred metre dash in 9.8 seconds if need be.
FiveCreate a study group and act out skits that teach the sections you are studying to yourself and others. Make it fun! See Surprise Yourself!
RationaleSo, what is my reason in this first post in this series for suggesting you help yourself keep the end in mind by turning your studies into games? Quite simple. We need to mix pleasure with business. By doing this you are reducing your overall stress levels, which in turn increases your Serotonin and Dopamine (your "happy hormones") in your brain. This also causes your Amygdalae to function better because their neurotransmitters are being replenished quicker, thus increasing your ability to learn. And, Voila'!
Why Twenty Minutes?I'm not actually making 20 minutes an exact number here for you. It will vary from one person to another, but the average length will be 20 minutes. These are the steps to follow in the 20 minutes.
1. Gather your chunk of information.This will be the chunk of information of between 5 and 9 facts. Make sure that they flow in the grand scheme of your studying progress. They mustn't be isolated. If they are isolated they are doomed.
2. Connect the information with previous information.Make obvious connections before learning and memorizing the information.
3. Make sure you understand the information.It's pointless learning the information if you do not even understand it. Memorizing something for the sake of rote learning makes your brain a simple USB flash-drive. It stores information. It doesn't make it a fully-functional integrating, thinking and solving, living entity it was made to be.
4. Memorize the information in as many ways as possible.Don't use just one way. If you are good at drawing, draw crazy pictures. For example, when I was studying Psychiatry, when I was learning about the medication called Sertraline, I drew a Search-Light : do you see the connection my brain made? Sertraline sounds like Searchlight? At least it did to me. Maybe I'm just crazy. Anyway. Moving along. If you draw good mindmaps, then use those to their maximum potential. Write a quick rap song. Act out the facts in a small skit. Use multiple ways to learn the facts.
5. When your eyes glaze over, stop.Teachers will recognize this point very easily. Eyes become glazed over, bodies change positions and become slumped, people begin looking elsewhere. If you notice your mind start wondering, then stop. If you haven't finished your total number of facts - this has given you an idea as to where to set the bar for how much to learn in one sitting. When this happens, those Amygdala neurotransmitters have been all used up. This whole process usually takes around 20 minutes or so, but can vary widely, depending upon each individual person, subject being learned, and the type of exam being learned for.
Take a BreakThis is essential. If you were to try and carry on learning now, your Amygdalae would simply bounce off all incoming information away from your learning centres. This break should be about 5 to 10 minutes and consist of you physically getting up, moving around, refreshing yourself with something to eat and drink (I personally don't have an aversion to good filter coffee here!). Go outside into the sun, stretching your legs. But don't do this for more than about 4 or 5 minutes.
Do the same again but differentlyNow that you've given your neurotransmitters a chance to rebuild, you now go back and do the exact same section you have just done. The difference now is that you are going to do it in completely different ways to ways that you have done before. If you learned the facts in , let's say 3 different ways previously, I want to now to find 3 or 4 different ways to revise it. They must be crazy, different, and way-out. You must feel out of you depth and you must feel way out of your comfort zone. This is when you will remember your work.
Keep doing this over and overKeep this cycling over and over. Give yourself a 30 minutes break for every two hours of studying you have done. After studying for about six hours, you must give yourself at least one hour's break and you must go out somewhere and do something different.
only guy friends - you are going to need platonic female friends in your life to help restore some normality to your already crazy male brain! Girls, don't only have girl friends. Too much oestrogen = BAD. b. Consider which religion. As you know, I am a Christian, but I had some very good Muslim friends at Varsity. However, my best friends, the ones that understood me the best, were fellow Christians. This is not being discriminatory, it's being realistic. They understood my feelings on certain issues. We could discuss issues easily and we could prayer together. c. Consider romantic involvements. Sometimes you have to move on from a previous romantic involvement, and that means moving on from a group of friends. This can be extremely difficult. But hey! you're an adult now! Act like one! Move on! If you've broken up with someone, and you can't be friends with you ex, and you can't comfortably be friends with your mutual friends, then act the grown-up and move on. Let it be known that you are the adult, and carry on with your life. Get professional help if you need, but move on! d. Consider timetables and course. Sometimes timetables and courses will be a major problem. If you are on a huge campus like Wits University in Joburg, and most of your friends are at Medical School, you are going to have to re-evaluate. Your time together may then be limited to weekends. And may not involve any of your studies at all. d. Consider diligence. Some people are simply not good friends to have in regards to studying. They might be fun to have as friends, but when it comes to the nitty gritty of studying, Elvis has left the building, baby. So, you need consider how diligent your friends are in their studies. Are they good at their studies? Are they willing to help? Are they willing to share their knowledge? If they are brighter than you, are they willing to tolerate you (to put it bluntly)? You need to be able to answer all these questions. e. Consider your own willingness to give. This is of paramount importance. How much are you willing to give to you friends? Are you willing to give of your time and energy to them? Are you will to be there for them when their girlfriend breaks up with them? Are you willing to help them prepare for their Viva the weekend before it happens? Are you willing to help them do some research for a paper they are writing? For as much as you are willing to do for them, they are going to be willing to do for you. f. Consider the group dynamic. Amongst my fondest memories were the times when me and my friends went to the Vaal Dam for a few long weekends and did some water-skiing and braaiing and having a lazy time. It was special time. But we were also able to spend time together studying and helping other out before exams. I hope this has helped you understand the importance of friendships during your studies. Do you have any other ideas about why friends are important during studies? Or fond memories of times spent recently or in the past with groups of friends whilst at college/varsity? Please share....During the most difficult times of your studies, it seems like it could be easier to lick the inside of a rusted tin of German hand-grenades dating back to the First World War whilst walking the path of the Paris-Dakar Rally blindfolded, than it would be to open yet another page of yet another textbook as you prepare for yet another exam. Indeed, many of you would opt for the former rather than the latter - and quite readily at that! So, this is where friends come in. Right from the outset you need to develop deep and lasting friendships. friendships that ... fill in all the cliche's that are true about friendships. Friendships cannot be forced, and cannot be defined. But I do want to give you a few guidelines when you consider developing friendships. a. Consider which gender. It is a lie that you cannot have true friendships with the opposite sex. I had a number of "girl friends" when I was at university. I would never have wanted to date them, precisely because they were very good friends and I had no romantic feelings for them. By the same token, don't only have the same gender friends. Guys, don't have
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here, when we learn a new piece of information, the brain grows new dendrites on neurons, thus hard-wiring the new information. But if we do not quickly review that new information, we will quickly lose that information. The rest of this post is going to deal with the factors that will influence how you will structure your revision planning, and the next post will give you some ideas of how to structure your revision planning. I'm not going to be dogmatic like Dr House about how you should structure your revision timetable because there are a number of factors that will influence how you will structure your revision timetable. 1. The duration of each study session. If each study session is one hour, then you are going to be extremely unlike to follow an intensive revision timetable. By the same token, if your study sessions are only five minutes, your revision timetables are going to be so complicated that not even Tom Cruise (excuse the background hurling noise) in Minority Report would be able to keep track of. You need to find a study time of about 20 to 25 minutes because it means for each subsequent revision session, the amount of time you spend on that section decreases by about 50-60%. 2. The number of facts learned per session.This is a very similar concept to the first point and for the same reasons. Bear in mind here that the optimum number of distinct learned facts that should be learned at any one sitting that are directly related should be between 5 and 9. If you can learn more per session, then go ahead - everyone is different. 3. Your existing schedule. This is an obvious one. There are only so many hours in the day, and you have got a certain number of commitments and activities already scheduled. You will need to plan around these events. 4. Your own rhythms. What I mean by this is that each of us is unique in the way we function during the day. For example I can stay awake very easily late into the night but struggle to wake up in the morning. Whereas my wife is the opposite. She can hardly keep her eyes open beyond 9 pm! During the day, some people have a mid-afternoon slump. I don't seem to have that. You need to take note of what your own rhythms are.The other day I was in the operating room assisting Dr Roloff once again. This time, the patient was in a predicament very similar to the patient in the X-ray above. She had fallen and broken her thigh bone (femur) below her prosthetic hip joint. She must have been in a lot of pain! It took us about three and a half hours to get the old hip joint out, as well as the cement, and get the femur ready for the new prosthesis. But the femur was in such a bad state that we had to create a cage of metal wires around it so and leave it for six weeks to heal before we go back in and insert the new prosthesis. That procedure is called a Revision Hip Replacement. Quite ironic, I think! Seen as we are dealing with surgery to your revision planning. As already noted