Do you find studying difficult as well? Do you have a hard time understanding certain topics or concepts?
It doesn’t matter whether you are one who often ace or fail the exams. No matter how smart or stupid you think you are, you can become 10 times or even hundred times better than you are right now.
In today’s blog post, I’ll be sharing with you the 7 habits to become smarter in your studies and understand faster.
Habit 1: Love To Learn
When students don’t study at all, or they don’t have the “mood” to study, it is usually because they like doing something else – like playing computer games, watching television, hanging out with their friends.
Now, I know most of you will say, “Only nerds love studying”, “Studying is boring”, or even “ Why do I have to study?”… And your parents are usually very worried when you lose interest of your studies.
I’m not here to force you to “love” what you are studying, but just to share with you some personal experiences and my perspective. And it’s about you making yourself love what you are studying.
Why do you need to love what you are studying?
Do you notice that you’ll get better results when you love what you are studying? When you love to study a particular subject, you’ll be more interested to read more about it, to practice more, and to think more about it. The more you are thinking, the smarter you become.
From young, I like mathematics more than most of my other subjects. As a result, my grades for mathematics were often better than my other subjects. No matter how difficult a mathematics test is, I could at least still get a C or Ds. While for other subjects, I may get a F, or even less than 20 marks for some tests (Yes, I really get less than 20 marks).
However, even though I like mathematics more, I still love playing computer games even more. That was during 2000 – 2001, when Internet was started to grow faster, and we can play games among our friends and with other strangers online. Games like Counterstrike, Starcraft and Warcraft were some of my favorite games. And that was why I’m pretty good at winning my friends at that point in time.
I somehow knew that interest is important in our studies, but I couldn’t understand how to “love” what you are studying. Later on, it was because of the rejections from some junior college that got me “fired up” and putting more interests in my studies. I learned to like what I was studying.
As I looked back towards my journey, and how I started to like what I’m studying, I realized that I used some of the motivational techniques to spark off the desire and interests in my studies.
Pain and Pleasure
We need both pain and pleasure for us to take action so that we move towards our goals. Some people are more motivated when they have pain, a few are motivated when they are moving towards something pleasurable.
For us to shift our interest to study, we need both pain and pleasure to motivate ourselves to love what we are studying.
Let us go in depth into what’s pain and pleasure.
Most parents usually implement some punishments for their kids if they do not study or do well for their exams. Well, this is known as external pain and it may work or may not work for you as a student.
I don’t think external pain is very effective as I was a very rebellious student, and the more punishments there were, the more I will try to find a way around it. I feel that most students nowadays are like this as well.
What I feel that is more powerful is the “intrinsic pain” that comes from inside. Like “I want to do well so I could support my parents”, “I want to do well because I am sick of being in poverty”, “I want to excel in my studies so I could find a cure for my mum’s illnesses”.
For me, I was trying to get into the junior college and the principal rejected me, even after pleading with her. It was humiliating and I felt like I’m not smart enough.
And it was in that point in time that I said to myself that “I’m going to prove her wrong and get all Aces for my Cambridge ‘A’ Level Exams.”
This became a real motivation for me when I was studying for exams.
Whenever I got stuck in some problems or questions, this whole incident would appear in my mind and I would continue to crack my head for answers to these questions.
You need to search deeply for what’s making you pain that will make you take MASSIVE ACTION towards studying.
We feel happy when there is a positive outcome in an experience. When we reached our goal, we will experience the positive outcome. Most parents try to reward their kids when they study hard and achieve good grades. And this is also a form of external pleasure to motivate the students.
Different people have different values in what makes them happy. Some people yearn for fame, some needs love, some feels happy when they achieve something.
Just like pain, you need to know what gives you the real pleasure. Not those kinds of external pleasure like winning a lottery, but those internal pleasure like having quality times with your loved ones or achieving the results you desired.
If you talked about games, what really makes the games so addictive is that every time you win someone else, you feel a sense of satisfaction and achievement. Sometimes you lose the game, and sometimes you win the game. But the more you played the games, the better you become and the more times you will win the game.
The truth is winning a game isn’t easy. If you are a parent and you try to win the game, you’ll know that it’s not easy.
And because it is not easy to win, when you win a game, you feel more sense of satisfaction and achievement.
This sense of satisfaction and achievement is very strong. It can make you addicted to the game so badly that sometimes, a person sense of self worth depends on the game.
That was how I felt in the past. As a 14 year old teen, I was pretty good in the game and it made me feel that I can only succeed in the game (especially I failed so many of my tests).
What if you can transfer this sense of satisfaction and achievement from winning games to winning your studies?
That was exactly what I did. However, in the case of winning in studies, it is a matter of winning myself.
Every test, I made it a point that I must get better grades each time. And each time I get better grades, I feel the sense of satisfaction and achievement just like winning the game.
I then became more and more interested in what I’m learning in school. And the more interested in my studies, the easier and easier it became.
If you can control these 2 pull and push motivational factors well, you can easily motivate yourself to be interested in your studies. Start by finding out what’s your own inner pain and pleasure buttons.
Habit 2: Whole Brain Learning
Different students have different learning styles. The geniuses learn differently as well. Most research have shown that geniuses are able to tap 4-5 times more than average people. And it is believed that average people only tap into 1% of their brain power!
Do you know how geniuses like Albert Einstein learn?
Albert Einstein was considered a slow learner – He learned to speak at a late age, and the teachers labelled him as a autistic because he seldom pay attention in class. The truth is he was usually daydreaming in class. However, he was a natural musician and he could play the violin well.
And it was much later on, when Einstein applied both sides of his brain, he developed the theory of special relativity. He was riding a bus and began to day dream. As the bus moved forward, he looked back at the clock tower and ask the question “What if the bus were to accelerate and move at the speed of the light?”
He asked again, “What would he see if he looks back at the clock?”
He imagined that if a person were to stand at the clock tower, the clock would seem normal to him. But when the bus moves at the speed of light, the light from the clock is not able to catch up with him and hence the clock would stop moving.
And this was how he discovered the theory of relativity.
To learn effectively, you want to tap into both sides of your brain and apply whole brain. By using whole brain learning, you are able to connect your facts and ideas effectively and look from a bigger picture.
Whole brain learning is about using more senses in learning – visual, auditory and kinesthetic. With your imagination and visualization, you are able to tap into apply whole brain learning in your studies. In fact, whole brain learning is a entirely different system of learning that is much more powerful than what we are usually taught in school.
Back in those junior college days, I had a classmate who often topped the class with the best grades. He is different from many other friends as he would often crack lame jokes using what we are taught in class. Sometimes he even cracks lame jokes in class and the teachers would be exasperated with him.
As I looked back in those days, that was exactly what made him scored so well for his exams. He was unknowingly using his imagination to crack those jokes and enjoying himself in the learning process.
Sometimes a little humor and imagination could also help us to learn more effectively in class!
Habit 3: Never Give Up
Do you find it painful or difficult when you are studying? Most of the time, when we are faced with a difficult question or a problem, we often want to get the solution or answer straight away.
In fact, after tutoring many students in their studies, I realized most students gave up easily. When they are given a question, and they don’t have an answer, they would straightaway ask me for a solution without even thinking for a minute.
What most students don’t understand is that ‘Learning is a thinking process’. In order for us to master and learn a certain topic, we must first think through it in a very specific and detailed manner.
The initial phase of learning a new thing is the most difficult stage. Even when we play a game, the initial phase isn’t easy as easy as we thought. But once explore and learn through it, it becomes easier and easier.
This applies to our studies as well. We will face many hurdles and confusion when we first started to learn it. But if we give up without even thinking, then we are not learning anything at all.
When I was practicing questions back in those days, I had gotten stumped in some difficult questions for a few days. And I never give up till I work out the solutions all by myself. As a result, the methods I’d used to solve the questions left a lasting impression in my mind.
But that’s not all.
Usually advanced concepts and topics are developed upon the easier ones. If you don’t understand the easier concepts, then it’ll be harder for you to understand the difficult ones.
The key here is to think of the solution by yourself for some time. Even if you have done it wrongly, it doesn’t matter, you just need to learn from your mistakes.
Habit 4: Being Consistent
Most of the top students understand the power of consistency. When we do something consistently, we developed a very strong habit of doing the particular action. And when we consistently do something in the long run, we can become successful in that.
For example, if you are a student and I am to ask you to take out USD$300 for this month, you will probably find it extremely difficult for you to do so.
However, if you were to save a dollar in your piggy bank every day, by the end of the year, you would have saved a total of $365. Saving a dollar each day is much easier than trying to find $300 in a month.
That goes for your studies and learning as well. For most students, they are not consistent with their learning. They study only when the tests are approaching. And when they do that, they find that it is extremely painful and difficult to master everything in such a short span of time.
However, for top students, they study consistently. All they do is to spend an hour a day to study and when the tests are approaching, they just simply got to revise a little for it. They can still have fun and play near the exams. Even when you use whole brain learning, you also want to learn consistently.
Habit 5: Effective Planning
Nowadays, there are so many things to do in school – From projects to homework and as well as revision. And if we don’t plan the time well, we may not have enough time to complete them.
To plan effectively, we need to gauge the time needed to complete each of the task. For example, you need to know how much time to finish reading a chapter and understanding it, how much time to make your own notes, how much time to memorize the notes, and how much time to practice the questions.
You need to get an organizer and plan your time according to daily, weekly, and even monthly schedule.
To avoid missing the deadlines, you may want to leave some buffers of a week or two so that if you can’t finish, there are still 1 or 2 weeks for you to complete them.
Habit 6: Allocate Breaks At The Right Time
Getting excellent grades do not mean that you need to mug the whole day. In fact, if you study for the whole day without taking breaks, then you are not studying effectively.
For example, you can memorize 100 words in an hour. But at the 2nd hour, you became tired and you can only memorize 50 words in an hour. At the 3rd hour, you became even more tired and can only 25 words in that hour. If you add that up, you have memorized a total of 175 words in 3 hours.
Can you see that you are not using your time effectively when you study too long without resting?
You need to take a rest too when you study so that you can keep your productivity at 100 words per hour.
Here’s what you can do to keep your productivity levels up.
Take a 15 minutes break after 1 hour.
During the 15 minutes, do something else like washing up, exercising, playing a musical instrument, go for a toilet break. But don’t do anything that suck your concentration away like playing computer games.
Take an hour break after 3 studying session.
After each studying session, take an hour break before you start another studying session. With these strategic allocated breaks, you will have no problem in studying effectively and keeping your productivity up.
Habit 7: Learn From Mistakes
Do you know that one of the best ways to learn something very fast is by making mistakes? The top students know this very well and treat each mistake as a feedback. They learn from their mistakes.
Average students don’t learn from their mistakes. Whenever they’ve gotten back their results, they would be sad thinking that “Why am I not getting better grades” and some feel sick to look at their mistakes again.
They feel that they are stupid to make those kinds of mistakes and let the mistakes to discourage them.
Think making mistakes as playing a game, whenever you lose in a game, you can always retry until you get a higher score. And you can keep on change your strategy till you get better and better scores.
This apply to studying and learning as well. You want to learn from your mistakes and treat it as a feedback that you can change and learn from it until you eventually succeed in it.
There was a period of time when I usually get C’s, D’s or F’s. And at that point in time, I took a close look at my exam papers to find out what kind of mistakes do I usually made.
And most of the time, I found that I don’t understand the concepts or facts well enough. As a result, I went back home and redo the questions again one more time. After that, I also took similar questions from past year papers and try to do it again to see if I understand how to do it correctly.
Apply the 7 Habits of Super Learners
What are some of the habits that you can apply in your studies now? Try applying it in your daily life and boost your grades immediately. If you find this article useful, share it with your friends by hitting the facebook “like” or “share” button.
And wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2011!