5 Great Ways to Improve Your Grades (That Don’t Need Extra Studying) – TUB-Thump 009


Study tips go way beyond the studying itself.

Sometimes all it takes is sitting somewhere else. Or having a refreshing cup of tea.

And that’s what I look at in Episode 009 of TUB-Thump. 5 ways you can put your best foot forward (not just by having a walk!) and build the best mindset for your study.

Ready to get those good habits going? Happy listening.

Here are the show notes for the 12-min episode:

  • 01:30 – Simple tips, so long as you commit to them and build these useful habits.
  • 01:25 – Tip No.1: Have a quick walk. It’s the only exercise you need to get those cogs turning in your head.
  • 02:10 – Tip No.2: Stop with the all-nighters. The most important of the tips, in my opinion… Yep, it’s my usual rant. 😉
  • 03:20 – Tip No.3: Shift your location regularly. Find as many different areas as possible to alternate with. Even if you only visit the library to work, sit in different places within the library. Build your own ways of mixing up where you study.
  • 04:30 – Tip No.4: Get the right sleep for you. Listen to your body rather than the voice in your brain that’s tempting you to stay up as long as possible!
  • 06:45 – Tip No.5: Drink tea. Go crazy and make it loose leaf. Green teas, oolong teas, etc. The extra time spent making loose leaf (just a few seconds) is well worth it for taste if nothing else. It’s funny just how much you can change the flavour based on the amount of leaf you use, the time you brew it for, the temperature you brew it at, and so on.
  • 09:10 – Bonus Tip! List things, plan things, schedule things. Obvious, yes. But also challenging.
    Are You a Planner or a Structured Procrastinator?

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!

Stop thinking and start listing!

A simple thought today.  Lists are easy to consume, quick to compile in a rough form, easy on the eye, and a good way of getting your brain out of first gear.

Notepad (photo by abeall)

Perhaps I should have said that lists are:

  • easy to consume;
  • quick to compile in a rough form;
  • easy on the eye;
  • a good way of getting your brain out of first gear.

If you need to brainstorm, but can’t quite muster the storm part (or the brain part), try compiling a list of rough ideas/thoughts first of all.

I’m not talking about a wonderfully thought out to-do list.  This isn’t time to worry about what’s important either.  You needn’t number the list or think about an order of importance.

A simple list is just a way to get your mind wandering in a productive fashion.  Doesn’t matter what the focus, just list!  Don’t even think of it as work.  Just see where it takes you.

There is a well-known tip for conquering procrastination.  Take just 10 minutes of your time to start working on that project that you haven’t begun yet.  10 minutes is no time at all, so it’s pretty easy to commit to those 10 minutes.  Since starting is usually the hardest part of getting to work, you’ll have crossed that bridge and are likely to keep going for an extra 10 minutes.  And another 10 minutes.  And so on.

Combine the procrastination trick and list-writing with the aim to spur you on to greater thoughts.  It’s surprising how many ideas are suddenly unlocked from your mind just by drawing up a quick list when you’re working against the clock.

In the summer months away from campus, you’re probably thinking about what you want to do over this time.  Spend 10 minutes listing what you’d like to achieve and it’s a quick way to form a basic plan.  In no time, you have a major starting-point to work from.

Quick, give it a go!  It’ll give you an idea how this type of exercise could also help with your academic work.

Tomorrow, I will look at why an initial listing like this can work so well at engaging our deep thoughts and bringing out the best in us.

Setting Effective and Respected Goals

Goals are not given enough respect. We treat them as an afterthought, or as a basic overview of what needs to be done.

But what if true commitment to success came from those goals? Under that viewpoint, would you give a bit more time to setting goals?

Like a throwaway comment, goals are generally boring lists (e.g. read Chapter 12, draft introduction, check Internet, compare lecture notes, etc.). These lists are usually vague in scope, regardless of whether or not the goals have an achievable target.

But a marker of true success may be as simple as having a well-structured goal. With this in place, reaching the goal may be the easy part!

I have made 3 observations of those who consistently set effective goals and go on to respect those goals:

1. Be exact

Photo by notsogoodphotography

The trick here is to understand what you need before you begin working toward the goal. Firstly, you cannot set a vague goal like “Research Essay Topic” even if you think you know what that means. Without an explicit goal, you have the space to change goalposts when you can’t be bothered to step up a gear. Secondly, an exact number or reason gives your goal a proper shape. When you don’t set out the specific nature of what you intend to undertake, your goal is just a fidgeting blob of pointlessness.

2. Make the goal a proper challenge

Photo by vrogy

A teacher mentioned a very good point to me recently. Imagine giving a young child a box of balls and a hoop…

Now, if you put the hoop a few feet away, tell them to start throwing the balls into the hoop, and then walk away from the situation, it’s not long before the child gets bored after a few tries and makes up a completely different game (like “let’s chuck the balls at passers-by” for instance). Sure, lacking a solid goal here may help the imagination, but it’s a poor strategy for achieving anything specific.

However, if you issue a challenge to the child to try and get 5 balls in the hoop in a row, there will be a lot more mileage in the game. By setting an effective goal, it holds the interest and gives motivation to succeed.

3. Don’t overcrowd with simple tasks and regular work

Photo by Denislav Stoychev

Goals should not be lists or an issue of tasks. If you like to write to-do lists, it’s wise to keep them separate, even if there is an apparent overlap or if some issues are direct repeats of the other list (hey, you get to cross out more than one thing when you’re done…now that’s productivity!).

The reason for this is to highlight the difference between what is truly a goal and what you would be getting on with anyway.

List too many goals and it becomes a list of tasks. Therefore, a clear set of goals should never stretch to more than a few points.

What methods do you use to make sure you achieve your goals?