Why is it the case that some students study extremely hard, but only get average grades? While some other students may not invest even half the amount of time and energy into academics, but get outstanding results? Well, while intelligence certainly plays a role, the real difference is because some people study hard, while others study smart, and studying smart always beats studying hard.
The way you study can either make or break your time at school/college. This article will teach you all about studying smart. By doing so, you can save countless hours of your precious time that would otherwise have been lost to misguided attempts to study hard. You will be guided on how to make the most of your study time, and enable you to reduce the unnecessary parts of your syllabus and focus on what’s actually essential.
HOLISTIC LEARNING IS THE BEST LEARNING
Most people study by pure rote memorization. While there is nothing wrong with this technique per se, it can be quite inefficient when you have to learn vast amounts of info, or some new complex concept. A much better alternative strategy is holistic learning.
Holistic learning is simply a way of learning that focuses on using the available information to build a mental model. Instead of cramming information into your cranium, the main focus is on the relationships between ideas. This involves linking concepts and ideas together and creating a ‘big picture’ of the topic at hand. Here are some ways to start learning holistically:
SOME GENERAL TIPS FOR STUDYING SMART
WHAT KIND OF LEARNER ARE YOU?
People fall into four basic categories of learning methods. It is an excellent idea to introspect and figure out what kind of learner you are so you can play to your strengths and optimize your studying techniques to your type. The four categories are-
In order to study in the smartest possible way, you need to discover which type of study you prefer. Once you know what works best for you, align your process of learning to make the most out of it. Mathematically talented students should put their notes into spreadsheets, graphs, and charts; kinesthetic learners imagine the learning material as vivid as possible; linguistic learners discuss the content with others or record their voice while reading the subject out-loud, etc.
USE THE POMODORO TECHNIQUE
The Pomodoro Technique is a popular time-management method invented by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s. It involves working in shorter, more focused bursts with frequent short breaks between them. This has been scientifically proven to be more effective for learning than long stretches of activity. The Pomodoro Technique has been popularized by several professionals and intellectuals, and those who use it swear by it.
The original Pomodoro Technique involves six steps:
Absolutely fundamental to this method are the stages of planning, tracking, recording, processing, and visualizing. Tasks are planned and prioritized by recording them in a ‘To Do Today’ list. The regular breaks aid in assimilation.
The main aim is to lessen the impact of internal as well as external distractions on your focus and workflow. A single Pomodoro (25 minute period) is indivisible – if some other task interrupts you, either completely abandon the current Pomodoro, or postpone the new task using the INFORM, NEGOTIATE, SCHEDULE & CALL BACK Strategy.
THE EISENHOWER MATRIX
One of the most critical components of studying smart is knowing what to focus on and prioritize. The renowned management legend Peter Drucker once said, “There is nothing as useless as efficiently performing activities that deserve no attention at all.”
This also echoes the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 Principle. This was postulated by Italian economist Vilfred Pareto, who stated that “80% of your results emanate from 20% of your efforts”. Thus, to work efficiently, you need to pinpoint the most rewarding of your activities and prioritize them over the less impactful.
One way to rationally prioritize your actions is through the Eisenhower Matrix. World War 2’s Supreme Allied Commander, and later President of the USA, Dwight Eisenhower utilized this technique to prioritize his decisions. This matrix assists you in determining the tasks you should work on immediately, jobs to work on later, tasks to delegate, and tasks to ignore.
The Eisenhower Matrix looks like this. Simply categorize your pending tasks as either urgent or not urgent, and important or unimportant, and fill them in the respective slots. It greatly simplifies the establishment of priorities.
The Eisenhower Matrix
As you can see, there are many extremely effective ways you can use to save time and effort while studying. Of course, this does not become an excuse to not study at all – some amount of hard work will still have to be put in. But the difference is that the results you see for the amount of effort you put in will be much more impressive. We hope you found this article informative and interesting. Thank you for reading!