Tackle School Like a Pro

February 27, 2008

So, you may or may not know this, but I’m a bit of a ‘self-help’ junky. It’s not a healthy habit, and certainly not an flattering one, but I guess it’s better than an addiction to, say, crack or food. At least, that’s what I tell myself (don’t all addicts?).

Anyway, every once in a while, I come across a site that actually brings some of the airy-fairy principles of ‘human development’ down into the realm of pragmatism. I found one of those sites the other day. And it’s really really good!

The site is called Study Hacks. I don’t know most of the background about it, and I’m sure if you’d like to know it, you could check that out. What I’m most interested is the ideas at the site. I feel like the author, Cal Newport, has basically taken all of the half-baked ideas I’ve ever had about how to study, plan out my school day, etc, and put them in the oven until they come out as delicious, delicious cake! Smart cake!

The idea behind the site can be summed up in one statement: work smart, not hard. Which has basically been my school philosophy since my freshman year of high school. It always confused me when people would say they ‘studied all day’ for a test. What does that even mean? And why were those people also always the ones that ended up doing poorly on the test.

At this point it was obvious that what they were doing wasn’t ‘studying’ how I define it. They didn’t spend a given amount of time with a large amount of concentrated focus on the topic at hand. They might have ‘studied’ while talking on AIM, or watching TV, or chatting on the phone. Yeah, no wonder it took so long!

Anyway, enough about me. I wanted to share some of the articles from this site that I’ve found most thought-provoking / useful. So here we go!

Start from the main index of skills of ‘Straight-A’ students. From there, you can learn how to block out your time, or perhaps learn the benefits of a fixed schedule and how to plan your day optimally. If that’s not enough OCD for you, consider setting up a task tracking system a la GTD. Then find out how to efficiently tackle any problem set or write any paper. Then, if that’s not enough, learn the art of ‘studying without studying.’

Even if you think that your study skills have gotten you pretty far as is, I advise checking out this site / these articles. I’ve already mined a bunch of ideas that have eliminated a lot of stress from my life. Maybe you can find something useful for yourself.

Happy schooling!

2 Responses to “Tackle School Like a Pro”

  1. I found your site on google blog search and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. Just added your RSS feed to my feed reader. Look forward to reading more from you.

    Karen Halls

  2. daveinthewest said

    Haha… I may have to look into this. Good find, Dave

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