Advertising
Advertising

10 Ways for Students to Crush It Next Semester

10 Ways for Students to Crush It Next Semester

A fresh, new semester is right around the corner. And that means a chance for us students to start with a clean slate, forget whatever happened with that Chemistry lab last semester, and upgrade our study habits so that we can really crush it this time around.

Here are 10 ways to get you started.

1. Develop “true grit” when it comes to studying

150909-flickr-AlanLevine-Grit

    As it turns out, the highly-esteemed, much debated “IQ” is actually a pretty poor predictor of academic performance.

    This is good news for us, because there’s a different characteristic – one the we are in control of – that researcher Angela Duckworth has identified, called “grit,” which correlates much more highly with success.

    Duckworth defines grit as, “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” It sounds simple, but it’s surprisingly effective. Your stick-to-it-iveness will not only up your chances for sticking with math homework, but can actually predict, with a high degree of accuracy, things like which incoming cadets will make it through West Point’s grueling training program.

    Action Step: See how you stack up on the grit scale, and then work to “up” your grittiness.

    2. Build “tiny” study habits

    How many times have you said to yourself, “This is the year I get it shape,” only to promptly quit on your new gym habit a few weeks into the new year? For a lot of us, establishing new habits is tough, especially for things we know we “should” do, but don’t necessarily want to (like studying).

    Well according to behavior scientist BJ Fogg, director of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University, it might be that we just have the wrong approach. Taking on big behavior change usually fails, but only because we try to take on activities that are too difficult at the beginning. Instead, Fogg’s “tiny” habit method focuses on establishing the habit first, and then increasing its duration and difficulty.

    Advertising

    Each habit is composed of cue, routine, reward. The more you reinforce this cycle, the more likely it is that you’ll keep with it over time, ingraining that new activity into your psychology. So to accomplish this task, we want to do something so small that it will be trivially easy to repeat this habit cycle each day. This “tiny” habit could be as simple as doing 1 pushup each day (if you’re trying to start an exercise habit), or flossing just 1 tooth each night (if you’re trying to become a flosser, per your dentist’s recommendation).

    Then, once it becomes a behavior you can reliably repeat (after a few weeks), you can start to increase the difficulty and/or duration until you reach your ultimate goal. And we can apply this same method towards studying.

    Action Step: Try adding a 5-minute study session to your morning routine. Anybody can study for 5 minutes a day, so start there. After you’ve been able to do this for a few weeks, increase to 10, then 20…

    3. “Gamify” Learning with a Habit RPG

    150909-flickr-MarcoArment-VideoGames

      Think of how easy it is to sit yourself down to play a video game. (Hell yea, Call of Duty here we come!)

      That’s because the designers have “gamified” the process to make it more enjoyable. Gamification is a “process of making systems, services and activities more enjoyable and motivating”.

      Well, it turns out that you can “gamify” learning and study habits in the same way, and that’s exactly what the people over at Habit RPG have done. Make progress on your new habit each day, and earn experience points, so that you can “level up” and progress through the game. And this works GREAT for getting yourself to study more.

      Action Step: Join Habit RPG, set a learning goal, and get started.

      4. “Bind” Yourself to Studying Using Beeminder

      Advertising

      150909-flickr-rychlepozicky-OneDollar

        As much as we like to rely on motivation to get us through difficult work, you don’t need to wait to get motivated to sit down and start cranking through homework problems. And once way to make this easy for yourself is to create reliable motivation with negative bets. What does that mean? I’m talking about putting stakes on the line (e.g. cash) to keep yourself on track.

        One way you can do this is by using a site like Beeminder to create a daily goal for yourself (e.g. study for an hour), with a penalty if you don’t keep up (e.g. you pay Beeminder $10 if you miss your goal 2 days in a row). This decreases the temptation to procrastinate, and gives you that extra “push” to get up off the couch and sit down to start on those practice problems.

        Action Step: Set up a daily study goal (e.g. 30 minutes) on Beeminder.

        5. Use the “Goldilocks” Principle to unlock your brain

        In his book Why Students Don’t Like School, professor Daniel Willingham explains his guiding principle for learning:

        “People are naturally curious, but we are not naturally good thinkers; unless the cognitive conditions are right, we will avoid thinking.”

        This is the basis of what I call the Goldilocks Principle: Solving problems brings pleasure if they are hard enough that the answer isn’t totally certain, but no so hard that we can barely get started. Not too hard, not too easy, just right.

        Action Step: If you find yourself getting bored with your work, make it more interesting by asking yourself questions that you don’t yet know the answer to. If you find yourself overwhelmed or unable to get started, think about how you can break down the problem into small 30-minute chunks.

        6. Do practice problems before you’re ready

        We all know, as students, how horrific tests can be. I still have nightmares about walking into class and completely blanking on physics finals. But it turns out that giving ourselves tests is one of the most effective ways to ensure that we’ll retain what we’re learning about.

        Self-testing, according to the research, can significantly improve the amount of material about a subject you retain later on (like, when a mid-term rolls around), and this effect is strongest when you DON’T review the material beforehand (i.e. you have to rely on your long-term memory to retrieve facts and procedures). It turns out all of those homework assignments you did as a kid could have paid off.

        Advertising

        Action Step: Next time you get home from class, instead of jumping right into the books, try testing yourself on the material you just learned. Do this without studying first, and even if you don’t get the answers right, you’re subsequent study sessions will be more effective, and you’ll remember more later on.

        7. Be lazy and sleep in

        150909-flickr-BurnoCaimi-Sleeping

          If you haven’t noticed, sleep is a bit of a taboo subject in our culture. Getting by on 4-6 hours of sleep is like a badge of honor, especially when it comes to work and school. Unfortunately, it’s quite possibly the dumbest thing you could do as a student.

          According to the research (but honestly, do we really need research on this to tell you how crappy you feel after a short night of sleep?) chronic sleep deprivation “impairs attention and working memory, but it also affects other functions, such as long-term memory and decision-making. These are all things absolutely essential to learning. Besides, sleep itself is part of the learning process, consolidating new learning into long term memory as you progress through the different sleep cycles.

          So unless you’re a fan of throwing away all of the hard work you put into learning each day, 7-9 hours of high-quality sleep each night should be in your future.

          Action Step: Set a bedtime alarm. Childish? Yes. But if you back-calculate 8-9 hours from the time you need to wake up, and set yourself a reminder to go to bed, you can help ensure that you’re getting in the hours you need for optimum learning the next day when your morning alarm goes off.

          8. Become a Pomodoro master

          150909-flickr-JussiLinkola-Pomodoro

            If procrastination is your thing, maybe all you need in your life is a simple timer. Becoming a master of the Pomodoro Technique, and getting in the habit of putting in short bursts of work followed by short breaks, can help you break through that wall, and actually start studying.

            Action Step: Try doing one Pomodoro right now.

            Advertising

            9. Let tough problems “percolate”

            Sometimes you’re sitting there, banging your head against the wall, trying to wrap your mind around what is going on with this Calculus problem… But no matter how hard you try, you can’t seem to crack it.

            It turns out part of the problem may be that you’re focusing too hard, and by doing so, not allowing your brain to access other thought patterns that may hold the answer to your problem. According to Benedict Carey, author of How We Learn, maybe what you need is to quit on your problem, and come back to it later, taking advantage of a phenomenon called “percolation.”

            By quitting mid-problem, you give your subconscious mind a chance to dig around in the background and find a new way to look at that problem you’ve been focusing so hard on. Then when you come back to it, you’ve got a new perspective, and possibly an answer to that problem you previously considered impossible.

            Action Step: The next time you find yourself frustrated with a difficult problem, and your progress has stalled, quit on it. Give it an hour or two. Then come back. You might be surprised how easy it seems once you come back to it.

            10. Space it out and mix it up

            150909-flickr-AlbaEstevez-exam

              How many of you have spent hours studying right before a test, taken the exam, and then promptly forgotten everything you just took that test on? It turns out spacing out our study sessions holds huge benefits beyond simply reducing stress and staying organized.

              By putting in shorter, spaced-out study sessions, rather than huge marathon cram sessions, what you do learn will be more robust (you’ll be able to remember more, more often), and you’ll also retain the information longer.

              Action Step: Engineer short study sessions into your schedule each week, even if it’s just 30 minutes in-between classes.

              Featured photo credit: Francisco Osorio via flickr.com

              More by this author

              7 Reasons You Won’t Start Studying Until It’s Too Late, And What To Do About It The 3 Things Elon Musk Knows About School That All Students Should Copy 10 Ways for Students to Crush It Next Semester 20 Funny Things Everyone Can Do Every Day to Get Smarter 10 counterintuitive quotes on learning that will make you a better student

              Trending in Productivity

              1 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track in 2020 2 14 Books About Building Better Habits That Will Change Your Life 3 Effective vs Efficient: What’s the Difference Regarding Productivity? 4 5 Powerful Decision Making Skills to Help You Make Decisions Fast 5 10 Essential Steps to Success to Actually Reach Your Dreams

              Read Next

              Advertising
              Advertising
              Advertising

              Last Updated on October 5, 2020

              10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track in 2020

              10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track in 2020

              The success of our day is largely dependent on the quality of our planning. Not to miss out anything in their to-dos, some people prefer to make a list of upcoming tasks in a notebook, while others have long started using digital technology solutions.

              Calendar applications are some of the main tools that are worth using to organize our life and plan your time carefully.

              Many people have switched to specific tools; however, there are still some who do not use calendars on a daily basis. They may find some applications uncomfortable to use, non-functional, or expensive.

              In this article, we are going to check out the best calendars apps to help you stay organized.

              Before You Download

              As you are no doubt aware, there are all kinds of calendar apps available. Instead of you sifting through the hundreds of them, we’ve handpicked 10 of the best calendar apps you can get. On top of glowing reviews from each one, we’ve considered the following aspects when creating this list:

              • User Interface – How you navigate the app should be smooth and simple. The buttons on the app should be clear, obvious and easy to move through.
              • Synchronization – Whether it’s with other calendar apps or with other apps, syncing apps should be easy and enhance your overall experience with the app.
              • Additional features – Since there are so many options for calendars, many of these apps offer additional features. These features make the apps stand out from the other apps and provide unique experiences to you.

              1. Any.do Calendar

                This calendar has direct integration with Any.Do To-Do List, which gives you a unique tandem of two applications.

                Apart from its extended functionality, Cal Calendar is easy to use. The creation of events is very simple and fast.

                What is more, depending on the name of the event, the application automatically adds contacts and geolocation data to the entry description. You can even import your lists and entries from Any.do.

                Any.do Calendar is a great option for any type of user. It is very convenient and doesn’t overcomplicate the mode of display.

                Another good thing is that this tool is available for free, so you can use it without spending a dime for the software.

                Download Any.do Calendar here!

                2. Google Calendar

                  Google Calendar is the official calendar for Android devices that has been tested out by many users around the globe. If you are right now trying to get away from it, consider changing your mind.

                  Since this application is installed on most Android devices by default, many users think that there is nothing special in this program. They are wrong.

                  Advertising

                  Google has been updating its calendar for quite a few years, and now it comes in Material Design with advanced event features, direct integration into other Google services (for example, supports reminders and Google Now), and comes with Exchange support.

                  The program is super easy and will not cost a dime for you. It is a good thing, right?

                  Download Google Calendar here.

                  3. IRL Event Social Network

                     

                    One of the most unique apps on this list is the IRL Event Social Network app. As you can guess from the name, the core focus of this app is social networking. Unlike other social media platforms, you can consider this platform to function similar to Meetup.com. It’s a site where you can connect with other people within your area that share a similar interest.

                    IRL is that while also providing a convenient calendar for you to schedule events and plan out your day. Though due to it being a secondary focus, you’re lacking a lot of the syncing aspects that other apps have on this list. Regardless, because of this huge social feature, it’s worth considering for those who want to make more connections.

                    Download IRL Event Social Network here.

                    4. Business Calendar

                      Business Calendar is geared towards people who use their calendar for work purposes and business task planning. It offers different modes with wide configuration capabilities.

                      The application gives a default view mode by months, and events can be marked in different colors. Display modes/ sorting can be adjusted to your needs (by month, day, year, or events).

                      You can also set a multi-day viewing mode to see how things look for the next few days. Scrolling up and down moves you by month, and if you check a few days, they will be shown in a more detailed form.

                      The day display mode offers hourly scheduling, and the schedule mode provides a detailed schedule for a single event.

                      Business Calendar is a great tool for planning/ scheduling cases, tasks, and events. There is a support for recurring events, which can be set up in just a few clicks.

                      Having purchased software, you can use it to import and export other calendars, delete, copy, or move several events at the same time.

                      Advertising

                      Android Business Calendar application may seem somewhat chaotic, but it works fine and is easy to work with if you play with it for a while.

                      A full version of the application is available for $4.99, but you can also find a free version for the app test drive.

                      Download Business Calendar here.

                      5. Calendar

                        Calendar is a relatively new app. It works as a web app and for both iOS and Android devices. It is an intelligent app that learns your contacts, schedule and tasks. It also helps you schedule and arrange meetings according to your available time slots.

                        A good thing about Calendar is that it allows you to sync up with other calendars you use such as Apple Calendar and Google Calendar. And so you can manage all the calendars you have in one place.

                        Calendar also gives you analytics of your meetings, giving you a clear picture on how you can improve your time management.

                        Download Calendar: Meeting & Scheduling here.

                        6. aCalendar

                          aCalendar opens our collection of top 10 calendar applications available on the market today. With its appealing design, easy navigation, and great functionality, it is one of the most popular calendar apps in our list.

                          Some of extra functions include color schemes for each case type (48 colors to choose from), different types of demonstrations, different widgets, moon phases, and much more.

                          Taking into account it functionality, aCalendar is a reliable calendar application that has an easy-to-navigate interface with three display options. Scrolling from side to side allows you to switch between the display modes of the month, week and day.

                          When scrolling down and up, you are moving through the calendar at intervals in accordance with the selected display mode.

                          Apart from its time planning feature, aCalendar synchronizes photos from contact lists or social networks to remind you about birthdays, anniversaries, or any other special dates.

                          The program also supports data transfer through NFC and full-screen widgets, which eases your work with any data.

                          Advertising

                          The program is available for free, but you can also get even more features if you buy the extended version of software for $4.99.

                          Download aCalendar here.

                          7. DigiCal Calendar

                            DigiCal Calendar is very similar to Cal Calendar in the fact that the application focuses on design more than on its functionality. However, this doesn’t mean that the application doesn’t serve the purpose.

                            With this calendar application, you can synchronize all your calendars and view them in different ways.

                            Along with the basic functions, this program comes with support for Google Calendar, Outlook, and includes some unique and interesting features. You can match keywords to the image or set up a dark theme.

                            The app can even show you the weather forecast for three days. There are many other features that deserve the attention of people who really like to use calendar applications.

                            Download DigiCal Calendar here.

                            8. SolCalendar

                              SolCalendar can be called a universal application. It claims to be an all-in-one digital solution having a basic calendar functionality combined with some other advanced features, such as weather forecast for a specific day.

                              The application supports Google Calendar, as well as tasks, widgets, lunar calendar and even Foursquare.

                              Those searching for a calendar application to cover just everything in its functionality, SolCalendar is a program to consider. There are a lot of interesting things in this application; the program does an excellent job working in “all-in-one” mode.

                              Test SolCalendar – the application is available for free. You can test it out without purchasing the service.

                              Download SolCalendar here.

                              9. Today Calendar

                              Advertising

                                Today Calendar is one of the most hip and edgy calendars in our list. The solution was one of the first ones that really embraced Material Design and remains one of the few that adhere to the neat style.

                                The calendar application offers bold colors, simple controls, and great functionality. This is not as heavy an application as many others; it will not eat all the memory of your device.

                                If you are not searching for something complicated and over-functional, Today Calendar is what you need. You can always test the application before paying for it – the program is available for free.

                                Download Today Calendar here.

                                10. Timepage

                                  Timepage is an intuitive calendar app that will manage your time in a way that other calendar apps can’t. It offers the same sort of functions that you’d expect from other calendar apps: opportunities to record events, notifications and reminders, weather, and driving duration to a particular event. However, the app goes beyond those functionalities in two ways.

                                  The first way is that while the app sends you notifications, it also has reminders for you for what is coming up next. That bit of extra time can allow you to prepare and make adjustments to your day if need be.

                                  The second function – which is more important – is the heat map when you go to see the full view of your calendar. This heat map indicates what days you are most busy and other days where you are freer. This heat map provides a quick glance to determine broadly what days are good to add more events and other tasks.

                                  Download Timepage here.

                                  Our Verdict

                                  Searching for the right application to manage your various calendars and plan your busy day can sometimes turn into a streak of obstacles.

                                  Most of us need flexible applications that can be easily used to manage our tough schedule. The application should have all necessary time planning functions and be intuitive.

                                  Stylish design and limitless compatibility also matter. It is not always easy to find such a program.

                                  The above digital calendar solutions fall under the category “worth” of being used. They are modern, multifunctional, easy, and easy. Pick the one you like!

                                  More Productivity Apps for Better Time Management

                                  Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                                  Read Next