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Iron New Information Into Your Brain

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Did you ever try to iron a shirt with a cold iron? Could you get that shirt ironed without the heat? Sure, but it would take for-freakin-ever! Ironing a nice fold into a shirt is oh-so-much faster when you’ve got HEAT.

Trying to learn stuff by going over it again and again is about as effective as ironing with a cold iron. You can do it, but it’s sloooooow and it’s a LOT of work. Getting memories ironed into your brain is much easier if you know how to Bring The Heat! Continue reading Iron New Information Into Your Brain

© Cody Blair, All Rights Reserved.

Maximize Your Free Time by Listening More Effectively In Class

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aliya
My friend, Aliya, listening intently

Don’t you hate it when you’re talking to someone on the phone and you can tell they aren’t really listening? The pauses between your questions and their answers get longer and . . . longer. They ask questions that you’ve already answered. You know they aren’t paying attention.

Failing to pay close attention in class makes for missed details, frustrated professors, and poor notes. Missed details? What if one of those details is on your next test? You’ll be getting a lower grade. You might even fail–fates forfend! Frustrated professors and teachers–in smaller classes–often notice your lack of attention, just as you notice when your friend-on-the-phone is otherwise occupied. That frustration can make your prof angry and resentful; not the attitude you want them to have when they are looking over your latest paper with red pen in hand. Even in very large classes, professors notice when most people aren’t listening. Often that makes them Continue reading Maximize Your Free Time by Listening More Effectively In Class

© Cody Blair, All Rights Reserved.

Can You Really Triple Your Reading Speed Without Losing Comprehension?

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If you’re like me, the claims of speed reading courses rank right up there with magic beans and political promises.  Too bad.  Speed reading won’t enable you to read the RandomHouse unabridged dictionary in ten minutes with perfect comprehension.  However, it can easily help you read three or four times faster while keeping pretty good comprehension.

You’ll notice I’m not selling a speed reading course.  No ulterior motives here.  I’ve just seen what a little training and practice can do.  My reading speed about five years ago was around 150 words per minute.  Now it’s closer to 500.  That means what used to take me three hours to read I can now read in less than an hour!

That increase came from consistently practicing some techniques that are freely available on the web.  I practiced three or four times per week, thirty minutes at a time, for about two months, and that investment has Continue reading Can You Really Triple Your Reading Speed Without Losing Comprehension?

Increase a Habit by Tracking It

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Studies show that simply tracking how many times you engage in a good habit (or sideslip a bad habit) will cause most people to up those numbers. How simple is that?! So start tallying up those push ups, timing your study hours, and counting your calories, to become master of your domain!

Amble on over to this nifty site for tracking your trends. Enter absolutely anything you want–number of periwinkle blue caravans you’ve narrowly avoided purchasing, amount of salmon mousse consumed with no lethal effects, quantity of fleshy-headed mutants you’ve found friendly, total number of obscure movie references you’ve noticed in this post, whatever–and the site will keep track of it and allow you to display it in a variety of tres-hip ways.

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The Secrets to Study Concentration Through Control and Focus

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So far in this series (other posts in the series can be found at the bottom of this post) mountain-childwe’ve looked at six of the nine aspects that characterize what psychologists term the “flow” state; that conscious state of high concentration and focus where we lose all track of time and perform at peak levels. We’ve looked at ways to bring each of those aspects into our studies. What about those last three?

(7.) A sense of control. In order to really get into that high concentration groove you’ll need to feel like you are in control of your studying. That can be really tough if you feel overwhelmed. You may feel that there is just so much to do you don’t know where to start or that the material or task is too difficult. Continue reading The Secrets to Study Concentration Through Control and Focus

© Cody Blair, All Rights Reserved.

Other entries in the series "Getting Into the Study Groove"

  1. Getting Into the Study Groove
  2. So Focused You Forget Yourself (And Your Watch!)
  3. Improve Your Focus With Better Feedback and A Perfect Challenge Level
  4. The Secrets to Study Concentration Through Control and Focus

Improve Your Focus With Better Feedback and A Perfect Challenge Level

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coloringPart 3 in the series “Getting Into the Study Groove” – See the end of this post for more segments in the series.

So far we’ve talked about the first four characteristics of that perfect state of academic zen; the state where we are at one with our studies, losing all track of time and all sense of self and getting completely focused on the task in front of us. The next two items that typify the flow state are…

(5) Direct and immediate feedback. To hit that perfect zone of zen-like concentration you need instant feedback. A kindergartner with a coloring book has that sort of immediate feedback; “Am I coloring Continue reading Improve Your Focus With Better Feedback and A Perfect Challenge Level

Other entries in the series "Getting Into the Study Groove"

  1. Getting Into the Study Groove
  2. So Focused You Forget Yourself (And Your Watch!)
  3. Improve Your Focus With Better Feedback and A Perfect Challenge Level
  4. The Secrets to Study Concentration Through Control and Focus

So Focused You Forget Yourself (And Your Watch!)

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watch_bentPart 2 in the series “Getting Into the Study Groove” – See the end of this post for more segments in the series.

Dr. Csikszentmihalyi lists nine different characteristics of the “flow” state, and so far we’ve looked at how the first two–clear/attainable goals and focus–can help us reach study zen. Let’s take a look at the next two.

(3) Distorted sense of time. When you get into the flow, you get all Rip-Van-Winkle. You’ll look up and realize large chunks of your life have tiptoed silently past your study carel and are now lounging about the in the hallway pestering the librarians.

Solution: Set a timer. Your cell phone probably has one built in. If you ‘ve turned off your self phone in a desperate bid for distraction destruction, you may need a watch or egg timer instead.

I kid you not; you will need it.  I used to be the worst about getting distracted (I could daydream on a roller-coaster), Continue reading So Focused You Forget Yourself (And Your Watch!)

Other entries in the series "Getting Into the Study Groove"

  1. Getting Into the Study Groove
  2. So Focused You Forget Yourself (And Your Watch!)
  3. Improve Your Focus With Better Feedback and A Perfect Challenge Level
  4. The Secrets to Study Concentration Through Control and Focus

Getting Into the Study Groove

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Mental focus or concentration…

is not just for zen masters and chess prodigies. All of us can concentrate extremely well on certain things. Usually, you don’t really notice when you’re completely focused on something. You only realize the degree of your concentration later when you are amazed to find that hours have passed.294636_chess_is_pure_thinking

For some, those hours slip silently away while they play Halo or while watching Mega-Monster-Movie Marathons.  Some may get lost in a good book or chatting online or shopping or playing basketball. Psychologists, led by a man with the tongue-busting name of Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, have called this state “flow,” and have lost hundreds of hours of their own trying to figure out what makes it happen and how they can replicate it.

Csikszentmihalyi, in a Wired Magazine interview, describes this flow state as, “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every Continue reading Getting Into the Study Groove

Mini-Reviews. Best Recall Trick Ever?

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flyEveryone knows you have to review it to remember it (no matter what “it” is), but reviewing doesn’t have to take long.

Do little reviews even during class or while you’re reading.

For example, during a class lecture the entomology professor explains the distinguishing characteristics of the order Diptera, the true flies, and then gets sidetracked by some dweeb asking questions about how bug-zappers do their magic. You take the opportunity to cover up your notes and try and recall those distinguishing features of Dipterans.

Or, perhaps you’re reading your textbook on Medieval Latvian Mortuary Practices. The author has provided you with a beautiful chart outlining crypt stylistic differences from the early to the late Medieval periods. Look over the chart carefully, then immediately cover it up and try to recall it. QUIZ YOURSELF.

These tiny reviews during the initial learning process really lock information into your brain. That means less time spent reviewing later on!

In general, you should do a brief review at least once per page you are reading when trying to process a textbook.

Imagine that there will be a pop quiz at the end of each page. Do the same for each page of class notes, although you may have to review even more often, since your class notes should be more information dense than most texts.

The mini-review doesn’t have to take very long at all; usually just a few seconds is sufficient.

At first, you’ll find it challenging, but keep at it. Soon you’ll be paying much closer attention to what you read in anticipation of the mini-quiz you know is coming.

Mini-reviews are a very simple way to make sure your paying attention and noting key points as they come up. You’ll find they really supercharge your recall!

© Cody Blair, All Rights Reserved.

Achieving Your Goals; 5 Power-User Tricks

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Setting goals is easy. It’s sticking to them that’s the hard part. Day-by-day motivation can be a real challenge. Pick some (or all) of these and use them to beef up your motivational chops.

Track your progress.chart_going_up

From first-graders putting gold stars on their daily-tasks chart to gym junkies listing their latest bench-press bench mark, tracking your goals is a no-brainer. Don’t worry about getting fancy–that’s just a way to procrastinate. Just put a mark on your calendar-of-choice each day as you complete your goal, and reward yourself with a mental attaboy. You’re one step closer to perfection!

Start Small.

When you take the bull by the horns and begin a new goal, it’s usually because Continue reading Achieving Your Goals; 5 Power-User Tricks