Tag Archives: schedule

4 Simple Steps to Beat Procrastination

Motivation done right lets you motor through your to-do list like magic. Try this simple trick from London-based writer, Sidin Vadukut. Pair each chore on your daily to-do list with a short, sweet reward.

You are using a to-do list and a calendar to make short work of your academic tasks, aren’t you? Paper works great, but I’ve recently been playing with Wunderlist 2 and have been pleasantly surprised.

Here’s how it works…

  1. On your to do list add a fun to-do after each and every task.
  2. Assign your tasks (the fun ones and the less fun ones) a time to complete. That will keep you from letting things drag out or from over-scheduling yourself.
  3. Keep your fun to work ratio at about 1:10. For example, if I spend forty-five minutes studying my Econ homework, I might then allow myself five minutes of Smarter Every Day.
  4. Bask in the glory of a fully checked off to-do list.

Let us know your favorite rewards in the comments!

Read Sidin’s full article on fighting procrastination here.

© Cody Blair, All Rights Reserved.

Be Certain you’re prepared for the GRE

How to be Certain you're prepared for the GREWhen building a house, smart people get with an architect long before the first thumb is hammered. Fail to get expert advice and you’re asking for train-track-through-your-balcony headaches!

Taking a GRE prep course is like talking to an architect.  They may cost you some bucks, but Continue reading Be Certain you’re prepared for the GRE

© Cody Blair, All Rights Reserved.

Assignment Calculator Helps You Schedule the Steps in Major Projects

The library at the University of Minnesota has provided a nice tool for helping you schedule out all the steps in larger projects such as term papers and presentations. As you may recall from earlier posts, breaking that monstuh project into bite-sized bits is a key way to give procrastination a swift kick in the put-offskies. Take a look here.

P.S. Pay special attention to the different template choices at the bottom of the page that allow you to tailor the results to the type of project your working on.


© Cody Blair, All Rights Reserved.

5 Power To-do List Tweaks

to do listI’ve written elsewhere about using a daily to-do list in conjunction with a calendar to make your schedule bow down before the awesomeness that is you, but does your to-do list get to “done”? Here are five simple ways to put some serious smack-down on daily tasks by pimping your to-do list.

1. Make sure you can do ’em. Having a hulking, obnoxious, hairy task sitting on your to-do list glaring at you is a recipe for procrastination. Chop that beast down to size. No single task on your list should take more than an hour. If it takes longer than that, you need to break it down into Continue reading 5 Power To-do List Tweaks

Are you wasting your time studying?

In the past, I’ve talked about exactly when to study for each class you’re taking. Follow that schedule and you will spend less time to get better grades!

But don’t make the mistake of blindly following anyone’s schedules or methods (mine included). It’s all about strategery, people.

Not all classes are created equal.  Some classes you can cut that schedule in half and still get an A.  In other classes, you may have to double up. Treat your schedule like a strategy game; carefully decide where you will get the most payoff and act accordingly.

Example; I took a class in Continue reading Are you wasting your time studying?

Avoid Cramming by Scheduling Your Semester Now

You could just take those syllabi professors are passing out like popcorn this time of year and shove them deep into the bowels of your backpack, forgetting about them until necessity forces you to resurrect them from their linty tomb. But that’s a surefire recipe for cramming, all-nighters, and mediocre grades.

Instead, go over each syllabus with an eye towards due dates. Add major events to your semester calendar and then break each assignment/project/major-exam-prep into hour-sized chunks. Now schedule the chunks on that same calendar.

You’ll quickly see which weeks turn it to eye-popping, caffeine-fueled, study-thons. Sweeeet. So easy now to reschedule and lighten the load. You’ll be panic-free and well rested come finals time.

[hidepost]But don’t stop there. Add any other major events to your calendar. Parties, mud-football clobber fests, major shopping extravaganzas, protest marches, Mom’s birthday–you can even put down something on the calendar the week BEFORE Mummie’s Bday–so you’ll have time to actually buy her something special and get it to her by her birthday. CAUTION: Not advisable if your mum has a pre-existing heart condition. The shock might be too much!

Every day, pull out the old semester calendar and update it. Are there new events to add? Do you need to reschedule something?

Quickly scribble tomorrow’s events on a piece of paper and schedule them. For example…

Research “Porcine Alopecia” in Library – 1:30 to 2:30p
Take notes on Chapter 7 of Otoliths and You – 4:20 to 5:00p

Giving each task a time will provide structure and prevent putting-it-off-itis. Fold piece of paper in two and place in pocket. Reference throughout the day.

Now just stick to the plan day-by-day and wait gleefully for finals. The week before finals, gloat and hit the sack early whilst your cronies desperately guzzle double espressos in a bid to get-it-all-done.[/hidepost]

Best Schedule for Studying for the GRE (or any test!)

Many of the test prep books out there include schedules to help you prepare for the GRE or SAT, but every single one that I’ve seen has a fatal flaw!  Their schedules would have you studying each topic only once before the test.  That’s crazy!  No one will master a difficult topic, much less remember it a month or two later, if they’ve only practiced it once.

Many teachers know about spiraling curriculums.  A spiraling curriculum ensures that students keep coming back to the same topic at regular intervals.  This increases recall and promotes mastery.

Our schedule should do the same; things we know we should study less and less as the day approaches.  Things we struggle with we should work on more and more.  Moreover, the best study schedule would be flexible enough to work whether you have a week, a month, or a year in which to prepare.

Here’s a simple method that will…

  1. Make sure you study everything you need to before the test.  No worries about skipping something vital!
  2. Automatically have you review most the things with which you struggle most.  No wasted time.
  3. Enable you to clearly identify what you actually need to study.  That means confidence on the test.
  4. Put the knowledge into your long term memory.  No fear of studying it now and then forgetting it by test time.
  5. Enable you to study as much or as little as you need to in order to prep.  It’s easily configurable to your schedule and needs.

First, get a test prep book (or two) that is comprehensive, giving plenty of attention to each section of the test.  You want a book that explains things in a way that you find easy to understand.  The best way is to go to a book store, pick out five or six likely looking candidates, and thumb through each of them.  Pick the one that appeals most to you.  You’ll quickly find that they all have very similar techniques, but that some seem easier to understand or are more comprehensive.  Here are my personal picks for SAT and GRE.

Next, get a book that has actual practice exams.  I recommend GRE: Practicing to Take the General Test 10th Edition, which contains actual GRE tests released in the past.

Now begin following this schedule.

[hidepost]Day 1: Spend 45 minutes or so go through each different section (verbal, quantitative, and written analytical).  Read carefully.  Do the practice problems and work through all the examples.

At the end of each 45 minutes of study, bookmark the page you’ve reached, and take a five minute break.  After the break, begin your next 45 minute session.  On the GRE, this would mean you spend 45 minutes working through the quantitative section of the prep book.  Then take a five minute break.  After the break, spend 45 minutes going through the verbal section followed by a break.  Finally, spend 45 minutes studying the written analytical.  I would do another 45 minutes section learning new vocabulary as well.  More on that below.

Day 2:  Pick up where you left off doing the same 45 minutes + break pattern.  Work all the way through each section–verbal, quantitative, and written analytical–in this manner.  When you’ve worked all the way through a given section, quantitative for example, start over at the beginning of that section.

But now your schedule will change up a bit.  Spend twenty minutes working through the section each day.  As you come to things that you know well, put a check mark next to those items.  Next time you go back through the quantitative, you’ll see that check mark and know that you don’t need to study it.  You can skip it.

Spend the rest of your 45 minutes working actual practice problems from the other book.  Don’t forget to go back to any you miss and try and determine exactly why you missed them!

Days 3 and 4: Repeat the process.  In each section, you will work all the way through it in 45 minute per day increments.  Then you will start over at the beginning of the section and repeat the process, dividing up the 45 minutes into review of the book and practicing actual problems.  Each time you review the section, you’ll check off more and more topics that you’ve mastered.  That means you’ll end up spending more and more time on the things you haven’t mastered.

Day 5: Pick an area in which your weakest in each of the sections and devote your full 45 minutes to mastering that one topic.  If the book you bought isn’t helping you grasp the concept fully, go back to the book store and look up the same topic in a couple of different books or do a search on the internet for lessons on that topic.  Here are some good sites for math help, some tips for essays, and some verbal help as well.  For example, in the quantitative I’m having a tough time figuring out how to do permutation and combination problems, so I’ll spend 45 minutes doing a tutorial on that topic I found on the internet.  After a break, I’ll spend 45 minutes working on mastering the sentence completions that have given me so much trouble, etc.

Day 6: Do an entire practice test that’s as close to the real thing as you can get.  Treat it like it’s really the test!  This is where you will identify key weaknesses, get down your timing, and build your mental stamina.  For GRE practice tests, I would begin with the free PowerPrep software from ETS.

Day 7: Take a day off to rest and recuperate.  This is important!  If you get burned out and stop studying or slow down too much it could be a disaster.  Take time off!

This schedule works great just as it is for practically any test.  For the GRE, I might apply this schedule as written if I were taking the GRE in one month.

If you have more time and energy for studying each day, you might run through the sequence twice a day (that is, you might do day one and two on one day, day two and three on the next day, etc.). If you have six months to practice, you might break it down, so that you aren’t doing as much each day, but follow the same sequence to make sure you cover everything.  If you only have one week to study, you may decide to do double or even triple your study each day.  Again, just stick with the sequence.

Make sure you don’t neglect your vocabulary, since learning new vocabulary is the single best way to increase your score in the verbal section.  I would treat that as an extra 45 minute section each day.  If you don’t have time to learn at least 300 new words before the test, I wouldn’t bother.  Less than that and you’ll have little chance of actually seeing enough of the new words you learned to increase your score.  300 words is the minimum; learn 1,000 or even 3,000 and you can add hundreds of points to your score.

Certain sections, such as the verbal, won’t require too much review before you have all the techniques down.  Once you feel confident in applying the techniques, the only way to improve is to increase your vocabulary.  At that point, instead of continuing to do 45 minutes of practice and review on the verbal, devote that time to doing more vocabulary.  Similarly, after you have written five or six of the written analytical essays, you may decide to stop practicing that and devote more of your time to some other area where you struggle.

If you apply this schedule above, doing four 45 minute sections (verbal, quantitative, written, and vocabulary) plus breaks each day, your study time works out to three hours and 15 minutes a day, six days a week.  Of course, you may be able to do less per day if you begin to prepare for the test several months out.

Use this schedule to break your studies down into manageable chunks.  You can work with the confidence that you’ll cover everything you need to do well on the test.  You can also be sure that your spending your time on the areas that will pay off most for you![/hidepost]

The Best Study Schedule (updated)

(this is an updated version of a post from January 2008)

I’ve posted quite a bit on how and when to study in order to maximize recall, but putting it all together may be a bit daunting.  Follow this step-by-step guide and you’ll be well on your way to the top of the class!  These may seem deceptively simple, but every one of these steps is supported by research.  Start following these steps NOW to boost your grades and recall.

Best Study Schedule

  1. Study every day rather than studying for long periods on one or two days a week
  2. As far as it is possible, establish a regular daily study schedule
  3. Study early in the day as much as possible.  Most (but certainly not all) brains function better earlier in the day.
  4. Study between classes during time that would normally be wasted
  5. Study in short sessions, from twenty to forty-five minutes each
  6. Take frequent breaks from two to fifteen minutes long between each session and do something completely unrelated
  7. Review at the beginning an end of each study session
  8. Study new material within fifteen minutes of learning it, and again within twelve hours.  Aim for 100% mastery
  9. Study the cumulative class notes at least once per week
  10. Don’t study at night or on the weekends when it can be avoided.  Rest is just as important as study!  Exception: A brief review right before bed can cement information in.  For example, if I spent two hours going over new notes during the day, I might take ten minutes right before I close my eyes to mentally rehearse the material.