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How To Revamp Your Study Habits For Better Grades

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How To Revamp Your Study Habits For Better Grades

    More and more people are going back to school to take courses to get further qualifications these days. These like-minded people want to improve themselves for better futures. These mature students, along with current students in college or university, may find it a real challenge to keep up with all the studying required to do well in their courses. Indeed, this is very much related to productivity issues of getting enough done.

    When I started in university many years ago, it was a bit of a culture shock. One of the most extreme differences on campus compared to high school was that the professors didn’t really seem to care whether I showed up for classes or not. In some classes, many students were even falling asleep.

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    I enjoyed this freedom of showing up for classes whenever I wanted. But the rude awakening soon came when I got my first set of grades. My marks sank to ‘C’ averages and I was even at risk of failing a course or two.

    Better study habits

    My study habits were poor and last minute cramming for tests or exams made university life quite stressful. Some things had to change as I faced the possibility of dropping out of university without a degree. If you are either a current or returning student, I’m sure that you don’t want to be in this type of situation either.

    Fortunately, I stumbled onto a study skills strategy that saved me. This method virtually eliminates the need to cram for exams. I started using this strategy to completely change my study habits and it made a huge difference for me.

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    This study strategy is ideal especially for courses that involve final exams that cover all material that was introduced during a semester or entire year. Here is what this strategy involves.

    1. For each of your courses, schedule a regular study session each week.
    2. Stick to this study session schedule faithfully like a job.
    3. During each study session, review everything that you have covered in your course so far from day one to present.
    4. Continue reviewing all content each week even if you don’t have an upcoming test or exam.

    Although there will be more material to cover each week for each course as you move along the semester, covering earlier material will become faster as you become more familiar with them each week. You might not have to increase that much time to each study session as the year goes by.

    The beauty of this study habits strategy is that by the time final exams roll around, you will be quite familiar with most of the course content because you have been reviewing it each week.

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    Using this strategy will allow you to go into your final exams with much more confidence than ever before. The only new material is the most recent since older content will be well absorbed into your head from all those weeks of regular study.

    No more cramming for exams

    This study strategy worked wonders for me as it took me from a ‘C’ average student to ‘B+/A-‘ average by graduation. This not only allowed me to finish my degree successfully, it got me into MBA school where I needed to have even better study habits in place.

    So there it is – my top study skills strategy that basically involves weekly review of everything that you’ve covered in your courses to date. So no more cramming for exams needed!

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    (Photo credit: Close-up photograph of a perfect grade via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on October 21, 2021

    How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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    How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

    Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

    Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

    The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

    Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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    Program Your Own Algorithms

    Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

    Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

    By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

    How to Form a Ritual

    I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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    Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

    1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
    2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
    3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
    4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

    Ways to Use a Ritual

    Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

    1. Waking Up

    Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

    2. Web Usage

    How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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    3. Reading

    How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

    4. Friendliness

    Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

    5. Working

    One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

    6. Going to the gym

    If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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    7. Exercise

    Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

    8. Sleeping

    Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

    8. Weekly Reviews

    The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

    Final Thoughts

    We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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    Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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