It’s no secret that students want to succeed. They really do.
Even a former dropout like myself dreamed of getting all A’s during all those years goofing off took precedent over serious study. I just didn’t have the guidance and strategies talented young people need to get the most out of their education.
So pay attention, because whether you’re in high school, college, university or taking training for certification …
Every Student In The World Can Be
The BEST Student In The World!
But first, you need to overcome a few problems, such as …
The Failure To Make A Cozy Little Study Nest
Far too often, students all over the map. They try to read The Canterbury Tales in cafeterias, do math at the mall and even work on programming logo-rhythms in the loo.
With rare exceptions, none of these places support extended concentration (more on that topic in a bit). But even if you do study well in a variety of noisy places, having a dedicated and protected area can work miracles for your memory.
Humans are creatures of habit, and none of us are stronger than our habits. But when we consistently engage in powerful practices, they guide us to amazing places.
How To Find Your Comfort Zone
In truth, I don’t know. You’ll need to experiment. And you may need more than one,
For me, one of my best study places was Joanne’s closet. She was my main squeeze during my BA years, but for a long time, I was her best-kept secret.
One day I didn’t leave her place in time to miss the people who weren’t supposed to see me, however. The only solution in our intellectually intelligent but emotionally immature minds was to hide me in her closet.
And that’s where I stayed for a very long time after she threw in my backpack, a blanket and a few pillows. Later, she brought me a flashlight so at least I could read.
Over the course of the day, Joanne kept me fed and watered and facilitated the odd trip to the washroom. (Very unusual trips these were indeed!)
The Most Unusual Productivity Hack In The World
Anyhow, the whole ordeal turned out well because not only was I very comfortable, but I wound up reading a challenging book from cover to cover and getting key points down on index cards. I didn’t know how to memorize a textbook (infographic) back then, but getting that work done in a focused place was such a boon, I’ve been reading in and even writing in closets ever since.
Heck, when I was in Gran Canaria, I even recorded two episodes of the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast in the closet of my hotel!
The point is, you can find a perfect place to snuggle in and get stuff done. If that means hiding from the family of your lover in a dark place, by all means do it. You’ll be pleased by the results that your regular homework, writing and study space brings.
Next, don’t fail to …
Rack Your Study Schedule Shotgun
I know. That’s a slightly violent image.
But the reality is that we as students and lifelong learners often fail to follow a planned schedule. And went that happens, it’s impossible to set ’em up and knock ’em down.
I’m talking about writing essays with enough time left over to edit them. I’m talking about giving yourself enough time to take a warm up exam before sitting for the one that counts. I’m talking about planning time for fun, relaxation and rest so your brain consolidates all you’re learning.
The problem is, so few know …
How To Create A Bulletproof Action Plan
And Consistently Implement
The best tip I know to help you with this one involves two simple sentences.
Conquer the Morning. Win the day.
Remember when I told you about my Mandarin Chinese Mnemonics And Morning Memory Secrets?
Well, I didn’t invent that strategy just for studying Chinese. I’ve been using morning routines for years to get the most important tasks out of the way first.
But You’ve Got To Know What Your
Most Important Tasks Are!
To do that means identifying and setting priorities. If your teacher is any good, you’ll have these loud and clear.
For example, with the Magnetic Memory Method, it’s simple: organize the target info, create Memory Palaces or select existing Memory Palaces, encode the info and then use Recall Rehearsal to place it in long term memory.
Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
But not all teachers know how to help you understand your priorities, so you must make sure you …
Stop Failing To Communicate With Your Instructors
I know, I know. They’re the teachers and it’s their responsibility to guide you.
But in reality, that’s only 50% correct. Every top-notch student needs to meet their instructors halfway. You need to observe where they are failing you and get what you need.
Avoid This Student Plague … Like The Plague!
Have you ever sat in class with a burning question and yet … you didn’t raise your hand?
If so, you’re in the majority.
Don’t feel bad. It’s part of the human condition not to want to stand out, or feel stupid or be the first to say something. You might also be wrongly assuming that the teacher will get to what you want to know later anyway. Or maybe you fear that the teacher might be annoyed.
Maybe the teacher will show some agitation, but who cares? Their position obligates them to serve you and if you’re worried about the opinions of other students, stop. They’re worried about your opinion of them too. It’s a vicious circle and will get you nowhere.
If nothing else, talk to the teacher after class or by email. This low-profile tactic was my favorite and always served me well. It made sure that I never suffered …
The Failure To Ask For Special Treatment
It’s a little-known fact that you can influence the course of your education and tailor much of it to your needs.
For example, one of the most exciting third-year courses I ever took was also … dreadfully dull!
It was called Shakespeare’s Contemporaries and the professor taught with such passion, that I couldn’t wait to hear him speak about weirdo playwrights like John Webster and Thomas Kyd. I admired him so much that I asked him to serve on my doctoral defence committee many years later. To my honor, he did.
The only problem during that seminar course was … the other students. I’m sorry to say this, but many were duds. They showed up unprepared and didn’t interact with this most excellent professor. As a seminar course, there were no lectures as such and the purpose was to have student-driven discussion.
Anyhow, as much as I loved listening to the professor, it also pained me to see him wrestle with my unprepared peers. One day after class, I approached him with trembling hands and asked him one of the most important and powerful questions of my academic life:
May I Have Alternative Assignments?
Instead of showing up for class to get my participation grade, I wanted to write extra essays to make up for the missing marks. Otherwise, I would need either to skip class or drop the course altogether.
Well, the professor seemed to understand exactly my needs and I wound up completing most of that course on my own. I even passed with an A+.
I went on to ask that question of professors again and again, ultimately customizing my entire undergraduate and graduate programs entirely to suit my needs – such as spending hours of study time in dark closets. 😉
Speaking of talking with your instructors, you also need to avoid …
The Failure To Speak With Other
Students About Your Studies
Yes, I know. Most of the time, the last thing you want is more of the same after a long session in class.
But if you do it right, you can learn more by revisiting your topic with others in some pleasant and exciting ways.
For example, after I dropped out of high school and returned, I had my first study partner. We took the advanced literature course instead of normal English 12 and it had so much reading, we split it between us.
Leslie would read, for example, John Donne and unpack it for me. I would read the extract from Paradise Lost and lay out all the cool things Satan says when he first lands in the pit.
That way, when I finally got around to reading her half of the load and she to mine, we knew exactly what we were looking for. It was kind of like seeing a movie again for the first time after many years. Plus, we had notes from class to round out our studies and guide our discussions.
When it came time to take the tests and write the in-class essays, we were both in top form. We knew the material inside and out. In the years since, I have done this with study groups large and small and we teach each other the key points from books we read.
Heck, it even happens in a certain way through the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast, such as when people tell me about the best parts of books they’ve read and I zip out my own study notes. You have heard The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci episode, right?
Without Study Groups, Students Fail To
Encourage And Motivate Each Other
Look, you don’t need to exaggerate it. But if you’re not meeting with other students outside of class, it’s impossible for you to notice when they’ve explained something really well in a relaxed environment. Of course, you can pat each other on the back for things said in class, but it’s not the same thing.
Plus, there’s power in generating ideas together. You also get to frame time by meeting on a predetermined schedule and using something like Roberts Rules to control the flow.
Study groups can also help you avoid …
The Failure To Be Clear And Realistic
Yes, it sucks cold beans, but when you’re a student, you’re being measured. And whether you pass or fail, the metrics make a mark and condition your confidence.
In this world, you need all the confidence you can get!
But by studying together, you’ll also be talking about deadlines and the conditions of the game. This process will keep your eye on the ball and guide you to the target. You just need to avoid …
The Failure Of Letting Worry And Stress Rule Your Mind
If you’ve been following along, you’re already way ahead on this one. You’ve got a cozy study place, the shotgun of your schedule racked, your teachers in the palm of your hand and a powerful study group.
These conditions themselves will reduce stress to a bare minimum. You probably won’t even feel it.
But why not take preemptive measures to make sure stress can’t rise up unnoticed? It’s easy if you’ll just meditate, sleep and eat a memory friendly diet.
Speaking of diets, to help you sleep, eat better and have way more time, don’t fall prey to the …
Failure To Hit The Kill Switch
Do you want to choose how to live your life? Or would you prefer to have it chosen for you?
Keep watching TV and farting around on social media and you’re giving up your right to be free.
I know that sounds harsh, but all appearances suggest that TV, social media and other digital delights like video games and instant messaging create dopamine spikes in the brain. Unfortunately, we get addicted to these, which can reduce concentration and create impulsivity that makes it difficult to get things done.
The best way around this?
Put Borders Around Your Mind Candy Binges
Here’s a simple trick:
Just as you should get all the most important activities finished before you switch on the computer and get tossed by the sea of email messages and social media, vow to stop all of it by a set hour.
My preference is 9 pm with 10 pm as the absolute maximum outer limit. Sure, I break this rule once in awhile of something needs to get done, but rarely by more than 30 minutes. The rule itself helps to contain any attempts at breaking it.
Plus, I watch programs with limits and check Facebook only once a day. Email gets a bit more attention, but even that I try to limit to three sessions per day.
Not only that, but my iPhone doesn’t receive calls, receive or send texts or have roaming Internet. It is simply for writing, reading and language study. It truly is a smartphone and I have a tiny old Motorola for handling the rest.
You may not want or need to be that extreme, but please, above all, avoid …
The Failure To Realize That Focus Is Your
Number One Asset As A Student And Lifelong Learner
More than that, focus is the future. As more and more things compete for our attention, those who can avoid all the failures discussed in this post will rule the world. Those who sink in the mire of unproductive lives and disorganized confusion will be their slaves.
That’s why the penultimate failure is so important to avoid.
The Failure To Be Mentored
Most students chase after tutors – or get forced into having them by well-meaning parents. Sorry to break it to you, bit most tutoring is a waste of time, money and energy.
Because most tutors look at your work and explain it to you. Or they babysit you while you complete tasks you should be able to do on your own.
A mentor, on the other hand, doesn’t bother with any of that. A mentor shows you how not to need a tutor at all by modeling effective study skills, lifestyle habits and teacher management. A mentor lives the way you want to be and will never be caught dead lapping up a pay check to tutor others. A mentor is too busy modeling others higher up the ladder and helping those a few rungs down.
How do you find a mentor? Well, that’s a topic all on its own, but I recommend taking (Jimmy’s course with Martin). That’ll put you in good stead, and if you execute, you will succeed beyond your wildest dreams with the help of a carefully identified individual who has the qualities and accomplishments to which you aspire.
All these things said, above all you need to avoid the most tragic failure of all:
The Failure To Develop Your Memory Abilities
The most shocking thing in the world is that the simple memory skills that help students the most are taught in schools the least.
One can go on and on about why, and perhaps it really is a capitalist conspiracy.
So what do you say? Are you ready to take action and stop failing as a student?
Of course you are. Start using the tips you’ve just learned and achieve the success you deserve. I’m rooting for you! 🙂
What If I Wanted To Memorize Entire Chapters From A Textbook