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Put Down the Books. Your Future Wants Some Other Experiences to Look Back On. TUB-Thump 029

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High tuition fees mean that a lot of people want to make the most of their time at university.

For some, that means knuckling down and focusing solely on the academic work.

Episode 029 of TUB-Thump has a different suggestion.

Your academic work is just one strand of your learning and development. You can get a totally different set of qualities and skills from the activities and experiences outside of class.

To broaden your horizons to the fullest extent, it’s time to face more than one learning path. When it’s time to plot your next destination in life, more than one path will give you a bigger choice toward the quickest route to success.

No need to feel guilty about spending some time away from the books. It’s expected of you.


Here are the show notes for the 7-min episode:

  • 01:05 – You have two approaches to your learning at university. One is academic. The other is what you do outside of your degree work.
  • 02:30 – The focus on broadening your horizons beyond your academic work is just as important for developing yourself, both for now and the future.
  • 04:00 Many students still don’t realise how important the non-academic experiences are in shaping the story of you.
  • 05:10 – If you’re focusing mostly on the academic, you could be missing out on social activities, as well as improving your future career chances.
  • 06:10 – Don’t feel guilty about spending time away from the lectures and coursework for some of your time.

Music for TUB-Thump is Life, by Tobu, which is released under a Creative Commons license. Check out more of Tobu’s great sounds on Soundcloud, YouTube, and his official site.

TUB-Thump is part of the Learning Always Network.

Keep being awesome!

Think Schedules and Fun Don’t Mix? Think Again! TUB-Thump 028

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When we aim to have fun, we want as much fun as possible from the activity. That’s obvious!

But when I heard that scheduling your free time can take away some of that fun, I thought “Uh-oh…How do I deal with that?”

Since I go on so much about making sure you plan your time well–including your free time–I was worried that the sensible advice may be inadvertently spoiling your enjoyment.

Luckily, the study by Selin Malkoc and Gabriela Tonietto also suggests how to have the best of both worlds. That’s what I talk about in Episode 028 of TUB-Thump.

Even better, the study seems to confirm what I recently talked about too. You can combine routines and spontaneity in student life.

In fact, that combo could be the answer to ALL THE THINGS. (Okay, okay. Some of the things.)

Now you’ve got no excuse for not scheduling!

And I’ve got no excuse for double negatives…


Here are the show notes for the 5-min episode:

  • 00:50 – How much should you schedule your free time?
  • 01:10 – Scheduling specific leisure activities can result in having less fun.
  • 02:00 – How can you schedule your free time and still have fun with it?
  • 02:45 – On being partially impromptu.
  • 03:50 – The focus of the study was on short activities, rather than preparing for something bigger, like a holiday.

Here’s a video with the authors of the paper explaining what they found:


Music for TUB-Thump is Life, by Tobu, which is released under a Creative Commons license. Check out more of Tobu’s great sounds on Soundcloud, YouTube, and his official site.

TUB-Thump is part of the Learning Always Network.

Keep being awesome!

How long should you take to prepare for class?

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Last week, I talked about deadlines.

Deadlines are usually reserved for coursework. But it helps to think about the smaller projects and preparation you need to do before class.

The deadline for seminar preparation is the day of that class. Pretty simple. But not always obvious. If you haven’t thought of it as a deadline until now, maybe that’s enough to see it in a new light.

Lectures and seminars usually rely on you having done some work beforehand. It could be some reading, a small quiz, a survey, an experiment, an exercise, or something similar.

I remember it being standard to fit prep in at the last minute. The same day was no surprise. And some people would even do the work as they walked to campus, moments before class started. A frenzy of reading and walking.

That’s not enough time to do the work. Glancing isn’t engaging.

At such a basic level, there’s not much chance to ask relevant questions and properly interact in seminars.

It doesn’t feel like so much rests on doing this work. “I can always catch up and do it in my own time,” you could say.

Problem is, the idea of preparation is to bring out the best in our abilities when the more important work does come along.

So while last-minute preparation for class is clearly a less important version of the all-nighter, it could still leave you worse off than you should be in the long run.

The way to combat this is to prepare for preparation.

What does that mean!? Essentially, it means that when you know what’s expected of you before you attend, do these 3 things:

  1. Plan what you’re going to do (if it isn’t already explicit);
  2. Estimate roughly how long it will take (and leave room for extra time just in case);
  3. Schedule when you’re going to do it.

It’s amazing how free you’ll feel when you prepare for preparation. All it takes is making that solid schedule and having a full understanding of what’s expected of you.

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You don’t need to schedule it all in one go either. Let’s say your course is heavy on the reading. You have 100 pages to read before next week’s session. Why not find four slots in your schedule to read 25 pages each time? Or five 20-page sittings?

The more you’re in control of your plan, the better you can engage with your learning.

My worst experiences have been the times when I put off the inevitable. My best experiences have been when I have all the preparation laid out in readiness.

Think of your own best experiences. When you enjoy the work and get stuck in, the learning feels easier. The preparation seems to fall into place without effort.

Why does it feel so effortless? Put simply, your enthusiasm allows you to naturally prepare the groundwork.

And since we can’t feel as enthusiastic about everything we do, we need to be a bit more considered in our approach.

The execution is always the same. Set out what you’ll do, prepare for everything, and make it happen.

You can’t fake the excitement, but you can always stay ahead with your prep.

What’s the Best Way to Write Your Essay? That Depends on You. – TUB-Thump 027

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Do you like to plan ahead before you work, or do you like to crack on with a clean canvas?

I hadn’t really considered this so much until I’d seen a presentation by Tristram Hooley with various writing tips.

A couple of Hooley’s slides look at two different types of working that resonate with me, because they have a similar outlook to one of the ways I look at learning new things.

For learning, I like to look at the bigger picture and drill down to the details from there. But some people start with some choice details and work outward to uncover that big picture.

In many ways, how you choose to write may have similarities in that learning choice too. And that’s what I talk about in Episode 027 of TUB-Thump.

I wonder if you’ve read this plan of the episode first, or if you’ve jumped straight into listening. I guess that depends on how you like to do things!

What’s your choice?


Here are the show notes for the 5-min episode:

  • 01:00 – Tristram Hooley’s presentation: Writing. How, why, when and what?
  • 01:20 – Planning writers versus generative writers.
  • 01:55 – Make a plan and then write a first draft or write a first draft and make a plan off the back of it?
  • 02:30 – One of these ways of working is likely to work better for you than the other. But it’s always worth trying the other way of working to see what you can learn about your process.
    I’ve talked about that before. Hear more on Episode 023 of TUB-Thump, How to Change Your Perspective and Why That Change is Good.

Music for TUB-Thump is Life, by Tobu, which is released under a Creative Commons license. Check out more of Tobu’s great sounds on Soundcloud, YouTube, and his official site.

TUB-Thump is part of the Learning Always Network.

Keep being awesome!