Monday, October 29, 2012

The Study Skill You Never Thought Existed: Shed Hours From Your Day

It is the most fundamental area of college success, and most students have messed it up before lunch time. Many would call it a study skill, but, more accurately, it is a life skill. And many never gain this tool. For many of you, this is the first taste of freedom you've had. This has the potential for great gain, and large losses.

With great power comes great responsibility

Sorry, I just had to throw something corny into the first few sentences of this piece. But there is truth to Spiderman's famous saying. The routine of school from 8:00 to 3:00 is over, and if you don't set some good routines for yourself, then college will eat you alive.

Somewhere around 95% of our actions are auto-pilot responses - subconscious actions that lead us to what we do. Sorry if you think you're an amazingly unique creatures with significant control over our actions. The reality is that most of what we do is governed by the habits we build, and that measly 5% is our uniquely human feature that allows us the potential to change. Don't take my tone as pessimism - that 5% is something to be very optimistic about. But only if you can use it efficiently. Can you use it efficiently?

The Morning Routine

The best way to achieve success in college is to create a morning routine with some of your highest priorities of the day. By taking on high priority tasks early in your day, you create momentum toward constructive ends. I would suggest a morning routine spanning from 2-3 hours. If you have a morning class, then wake up earlier, or work your routine so that part is before and after that class. Here are some common elements you want to include in the routine:

An hour to an hour and a half of work toward your MOST important assignments for school.



Shower, brush teeth... etc.

Take a multivitamin.

Drink a large glass of water.

Prepare smaller snacks for throughout the day.

Time directed toward some hobby or passion you have.
These are some of the key activities to create in your morning rhythm. In fact, I'd suggest doing ALL of them, if you can. Altogether, these activities can be done within a 3 hour window, as I've tested this routine myself, though not in this order.

Just think of how much you could get accomplished by 10 or 11:00am through this model. The area where most students fail in their study skills habits is now allowing time to re-energize their batteries. Instead, they stress themselves out by oscillating between stressful studying and Facebook, or other distractions. The result is you never truly focus in on studying, and spend three times as much time on school work as a result

Instead, work in at least an hour of focused study, without distractions in your morning routine, then re-energize afterwards with breakfast, water, vitamins... etc. Make time to re-energize throughout the day, and your effectiveness will grow exponentially. So start a morning routine for yourself, and stick with it for 30 days. After 30 days, you will feel weird NOT doing it. You will feel WEIRD not being excellent.