Tag Archive for: studysmarternotharder

“The tougher the setback, the better the comeback.”

Do these wise words by Bernard Osei Annang sound like something you need to hear right now?

If you received some disappointing results at the end of last term, then they may resonate more than you would like.

Or you might just dismiss them as platitudes that you don’t want to hear.

But the truth is, success without setbacks is impossible. While it might be nice to sail through school – and life in general – on a wave of success, the reality is, you will hit some rough seas.

The time has come to overcome the sense of failure.

Read on to learn how you can master disappointment and come back stronger than ever.

 

#1. Take Stock of Your Routine

Poor results do not appear out of thin air.

Life has a sense of humour and likes to kick us down when we are already struggling. It’s easy to put your poor results down to bad luck, or subjective marking. But chances are if you take stock of the way you used your time last term, I’m guessing you’ll see that the warning signs were always there.

Did you prioritise your schoolwork over other activities?

Did you create a study routine at the very start of the year, or did you wait until the assessment started rolling in?

Did you allow yourself to procrastinate or did you just swallow the frog and get stuck into it?

Hindsight is 20/20, but with a little bit of work, you can make sure your poor time management and prioritising of activities of the past do not influence future academic performance.

#2. Damage Control 

Is the disappointment of your results having a broader effect on your current performance? Are you finding it hard to put it behind you and move forward? Are constantly second guessing yourself and your abilities?

Don’t panic!

No, seriously, this is not the time to give up or stick your head in the sand and hope it will all go away. [Spoiler alert: it won’t!]

You can control the situation and come out stronger.

Take a look back and reflect on where you went wrong. Did you run out of time and leave your run too late? Did you study the wrong stuff? Or just not study at all?

Knowing where you stuffed up is the best way to raise your awareness and ensure you don’t do it again this term.

 

Top Tip: Take it from someone who has failed as much as she’s succeeded.

If you look at where you went wrong and adjust your future actions accordingly, you can get yourself back on track – and maybe even ahead. What have you got to lose?

#3. Accept Help

I know you like to be independent and go it alone, but this can just get you tied up in unnecessary knots and spiralling down a hole of disappointment and confusion.

Instead, if you accept help, you can easily overcome obstacles before they overcome you.

For example:

  • If you’re struggling with the content, you should always ask your teacher for clarification.
  • Why not tap into the vast range of Youtube clips and online learning platforms – especially for those of you who are visual learners.
  • How about studying in a group? Being able to ask for assistance from your peers can help you move forward quickly and easily. Plus, as an added bonus, having to answer a question or explain something to someone else requires in-depth knowledge that will push you further.

 

#4. Future Planning

Now that you’ve reflected on your poor results, it’s time to leave them behind you and create a plan to get you the results of the high performing student that you are!

Remember: Poor results are common, and you are not stupid, or hopeless just because it has happened to you. All you can control is how you deal with the disappointment and use it to fuel your determination to succeed.

Here are some tips to implement moving forward:

  • Create a study plan that ensures all subjects are covered equally throughout the term.
  • Prioritise your time so that you have clearly allocated slots of both study and play.
  • Use spaced revision throughout the term to avoid last minute cramming and you’re your brain transfer learning to your long term memory.
  • Create a study group.

 

#5. Act, Don’t React 

Did your teacher tell you that one, too? Don’t roll your eyes at me! You know we’re both right.

Action is the mother of improvement.

Reaction puts you back in the headspace of failure.

Rather than dwelling on the past and wallowing in disappointment, use it to put a fire in your belly that propels you to take positive and determined action.

You can’t change the past, but your actions can certainly change the future.

 

So, How Can Edvantage Australia Help?

Are you still flailing a little or want just a bit more help to get you back on your feet after your disappointing results?

No problem!

At Edvantage Australia, we pride ourselves on supporting students to achieve their full potential and get the results they need to follow their dreams.

That means you don’t have to flail around aimlessly wondering how to improve. That’s what we’re here for.

We have 28 Study Skills workshops designed to take any student from failing to flying. Unlike regular tutoring, we don’t focus on content, but on teaching you how to deal with the content so that you can improve your results and still have a life.

In short, our aim is to teach you how to study smarter not harder.

Our workshops include a range of tips and easy actions that you can implement right away to see a huge improvement in your results.

We can’t wait to work with you and help you get the results you want.

 

 

 

Like many others I always thought that multi-tasking was an efficient way to get things done.

Rather than just focusing on one task and letting the others slide, I deliberately ensured that I juggled all my tasks and did a bit of everything each day so that I could keep all my balls in the air.

But lately I have come to realise just how inefficient this actually is.

Because rather than staying on top of everything, I’ve all too frequently had all the balls come crashing down on me at once.

So, let’s have a look at why multi-tasking isn’t the answer – and most importantly at what you should be doing instead.

Multitasking and Me

So, why was I such a fan of multitasking in the first place?

It’s all to do with dreams.

I guess I’ve always had a low boredom threshold and have always had multiple activities on the go at any one time.

I have this recurring dream that I am cruising along happily crossing things off my to-do list and feeling pretty smug about my organisational skills, when I look back at my calendar and realise I have a Modern History research assignment due the next day that I haven’t even started!

Believe me, this is not a comforting dream to have at 2am.

And especially disconcerting when you consider that I haven’t actually studied Modern History since 1987!

So, to avoid that dream becoming a reality, I have developed a habit of multitasking – doing a little bit of everything each day so that I don’t forget any one thing altogether.

There’s just one problem.

Far from being more efficient, multitasking actually ensures that we actually don’t get ANY task completed effectively.

So, any time I was juggling multiple tasks, the final results were sub-standard, despite my best efforts.

But why is this the case?

Reason #1: It’s inefficient and time-wasting

Our brains are only designed to concentrate on one thing at a time (and no, that doesn’t just apply to males).

Women may be compelled to multi-task more often as they are more frequently responsible for little people who can’t perform tasks for themselves, but that does not make them efficient at it.

When we multi-task we don’t actually do two (or more) things at the one time. What actually happens is that we constantly shift our attention from one task and onto another. It’s just that we do it so rapidly we are often not aware of the process.

When we engage in an activity, we make a conscious decision to do so. Each activity has a set of ‘rules’ associated with it, that don’t necessarily apply to other activities. For example, the ‘rules’ required to cook dinner are very different from those required to text a friend. Trying to combine the two can make both tasks difficult.

When we swap from one activity to the other, our brains are forced to go through a process of goal shifting (deciding to focus on the different activity) and rule activation.

Each time we do this, we actually lose time. While it might only be a few seconds each time, if you spend your whole day shifting from one activity to another you can end up losing significant amounts of time.

Reason #2: Multi-tasking Causes Us to Make Mistakes

Those who frequently multi-task are seen to be more impulsive and therefore less cautious and methodical in their approach to tasks.

They are more easily distracted and often overlook key elements.

This can lead to careless errors (if not downright dangerous outcomes – ie texting and cooking).

Often work that is completed when multitasking will need to be done again, completely negating any time saving benefits.

Multitasking Infographic

 

Reason #3: My Brain Hurts

Multitasking definitely makes me feel exhausted – and it’s not just an age thing!

It’s actually quite mentally draining to have to focus intently on a number of different things at the one time.

Think about how hard it is to read 3 books at a time, or watch 3 television series at the same time – or even just to try to text while you’re carrying out a different conversation with someone face to face.

It’s really quite exhausting.

And an absolute invitation for something to go wrong (think texting your tutor ‘I love you’ when you meant to say that to your Mum!)

Plus, researchers at the University of Sussex have conducted brain MRIs that clearly show damage to the brains of those who frequently multi-task. The scans reveal less brain density in the anterior cingulate cortex, a region responsible for empathy as well as cognitive and emotional control.

Other studies show that frequent multitaskers experience a drop in their IQ of up to 15 points.

Any perceived benefits of multi-tasking get thrown out if it’s going to cause brain damage!

Reason #4: I’m Tired

When we force our brains to keep switching between multiple tasks, we overstimulate them.

The brain is not only coping with the information, but with the different types of media or stimuli; the different rules required to achieve the tasks; the different information that needs to be pulled to the forefront to have this new knowledge connected to it; and then storing it effectively.

All this takes a lot of energy and makes our brains go into overdrive.

It’s no wonder that by the end of the day we feel quite exhausted – the kind of tiredness that not even a good night’s rest can improve.

Allowing our brains to focus on only one activity at a time gives us greater clarity, better concentration and a sense that we have room to breathe.

This helps us to feel on top of things and far less overwhelmed, allowing our brains to shut down at night – a vital part of the learning and consolidating process.

Reason #5: It Stresses Me Out 

Research shows that people who multi-task have higher stress levels than those who don’t.

And frankly, I’m not surprised.

Working on multiple tasks sends our brains into overdrive. They respond by pumping out adrenaline and other stress hormones in order to keep up. These hormones provide us with a burst of energy, but it is often more distracting than helpful and it quickly dies off.

If we continue to practise multitasking, the constant stress can actually be dangerous to our health. These stress hormones can cause a number of medical issues such as headaches, stomach issues and sleeping problems. The increased sense of stress can cause issues in the workplace, home and relationships. It can also lead to chronic health issues such as insomnia, back pain, heart disease and depression.

What I Do Instead of Multi-Tasking

As you’ve probably guessed, now I avoid the temptation to multi-task. Instead, I make sure that I am only working on one task at a time.

This works better for me because:

  • I know that by focusing solely on one task at a time, I can complete it more efficiently and effectively, resulting in fewer errors and ultimately saving me time
  • I am protecting my brain by not overloading it and forcing it to work in ways for which it wasn’t designed.
  • I finish the day calmer, more relaxed and more satisfied. I can actually cross completed tasks off my to-do list rather than having done lots of bits of things, but nothing in its entirety.

However, I’m not just asking you to trust me on this. After completing our workshop on The Myth of Multi-tasking last week, my client Margaret wrote:

Student testimony

 

And, to address that Modern History nightmare, I make sure that I create a clear schedule that allocates blocks of time for every subject or activity I need to complete. That way I will never have the terrifying realisation that I have completely forgotten to do something important.

(For more ideas about why we all need to use planners, read my blog article Five Ways to Make a Calendar Work For You)

Do you have any more questions? Why not book an ATAR activation call so we can help you formulate a plan to improve your study habits. Or, we’re always happy to chat with you on our Social Media platforms, where you’ll find more helpful hints and tips.

You know what?

There’s a whole lot of misinformation about studying, which is why it’s easy to feel defeated when you’re doing everything “right” and still not getting results.

Before I learned how to overcome my limiting beliefs, I tried every guide and article I could find.

Expert #1 would say writing information out multiple times is the best way to learn it (it’s not).

Expert #2 would say reading over the content and highlighting key words is the way to go (another myth).

Expert #3 think the best way to get top marks is to study on your own as you have more control.  

No matter what I did, I still couldn’t find a study plan that worked for me.

I kept thinking there was some big secret I just didn’t know. That everyone else knew exactly what they were doing and I was the only one who didn’t.

But then I learned the truth.

The big secret that was blocking my success was that I had to trust myself and overcome my limiting beliefs.

Whatever you think about is what your brain focuses on.

So while I was focusing on all the things I was getting wrong, the more my brain kept going back to them and doing them more often.

Once I finally started turning it around and looking at my limiting beliefs as beneficial, things really fell into place.

You can do it too!

Read on for some sneaky limiting beliefs that may be holding you back from getting top results, and how to turn them into your superpowers.  

Limiting Belief #1: I Don’t Need Help

If you’re used to being self-sufficient and doing things on your own, you can probably relate to this. And it’s probably worked for you up until now. But the final years of high school can be quite challenging and having a support network around you can make a huge difference.

Many students find study groups a great motivator – it’s hard to avoid showing up and doing the work when others are counting on you.

Some like having the reassurance of a mentor – someone who always has your back and can pick you up when you’re feeling down.

Others like to have a kind of PA – someone in the background reminding them of when things are due and helping them to stay organised and on top of things.

How to turn it into your superpower

First, challenge your belief. After all, it’s just a belief and you have no proof that it’s reality (spoiler: it’s NOT!)

Ask yourself why you think you need to go it alone. Is it that you don’t want others to know your weaknesses (or steal from your strengths)?

Maybe it’s that you’ve always done it alone and assume that’s the only way?

Or perhaps you’re a deadliner and have never been organised enough to think of getting help until it’s too late.

Once you have the answers, think about what it would be like to do the opposite. What would it be like to have help? Would it make studying feel less isolating and boring? Would it give you more confidence to proceed?  Would it improve your time management and organisation, reducing the number of last minute cramming sessions?

You don’t have to take action now. Just let it sit with you and try to broaden your perspective. Keep challenging yourself. 

When you’re ready, try reaching out for help. We have a number of ways to support you in your studies. Here are a few resources available:

  • Our workshops will help you strengthen your skillset
  • Join the forum in our study skills group to interact with other students or to receive assistance
  • Ask for our study support team to send you SMS reminders of assessment dates and milestones

Limiting Belief #2: I just have to… 

“I’ll get to my studies as soon as I finish working out my study schedule”.

Sound familiar?

We all have a list of things we need to do, and in what order we want to do them.

But if you’ve been procrastinating on a specific task for weeks or months, it’s probably time to re-prioritise.

While it’s great to have a planner and know exactly what you’re doing, do you really need to have one set in stone before you can tackle your workload? Or is it that actually doing the work scares you? 

It’s common to put off things we’re not “ready” for

But you know what? You’re never actually going to find the right time when you feel totally ready.

Putting tasks off never makes them go away or helps them get any easier. In fact, the more you procrastinate the worse things will get. Your anxiety levels will rise and your time frame will reduce.

Besides, have you ever noticed that the things we dread doing aren’t actually that difficult or time consuming once we actually knuckle down and get them done?

How to turn it into your superpower

Believe it or not, procrastination can actually be used to your advantage.

Any time you hear yourself thinking “I just need to…”, count to 5 and make yourself do it. That way it is done and can no longer be used as an excuse. 

You’ll be amazed by how many tasks you manage to get out of the way if you adopt this attitude.

Plus, completing these smaller tasks will give you the motivation to keep going and get to work on those bigger tasks that you’ve been avoiding.

Many people don’t want to start things until they feel they have all the knowledge and ability to do them well. Taking small but imperfect action is always better than doing nothing at all.

Whatever you have to do today, do it with the confidence of a 4 year old in a superhero cape

Limiting Belief #3: I’m not clever enough

How many times have you put off studying for your exams because you tell yourself you’re not clever enough to succeed?

You’re not alone. This is another belief that comes from a place of fear, and we all have them.

When you’re about to try something new, you picture all the things that can go wrong.

This is especially true if you have experienced failure in the past.

The problem with this belief is that it can prevent more empowering beliefs from forming if you’re not aware of them.

If we focus on the things we can’t do, we end up in a negative spiral where we doubt ourselves to the extent that we question our ability to do even simple things.

As Henry Ford once said “whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right”.

Just because you once tried and failed does not mean that will happen again.

Imagine if when you were starting to walk you fell on your bottom once and decided you weren’t capable of walking!

How to turn it into your superpower

If you hear yourself thinking “I can’t do that”, add the word “yet”.

This simple trick will help you find the motivation to develop the skill you feel you’re lacking, rather than simply giving up in defeat. 

You absolutely CAN get the results you want!

I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but the right attitude will certainly hep you get there. 

Here’s an activity that might help…

Think about all the things you couldn’t do once that you can now do without thinking. 

Write each skill on a post-it note and place them in a jar.

Now you have a visual representation of all the things you can do that once you couldn’t.

Rather than giving up, find solutions to the problem. What can you do to help you achieve this skill? Do you need to ask for help? Complete practice exams? Watch a Youtube lesson? 

Focusing on what you CAN do will help turn your limiting beliefs around and help you use them to drive your success.

Jar of skills

Limiting Belief #4:  I don’t have time

If you believe you have too much work to do and not enough time in which to do it you’ll find ways to keep yourself occupied with other activities rather than studying.

Saying you don’t have time is really saying it’s not a priority right now.

The truth is, as a full-time student, you have to make studying a priority!

How to turn it into a superpower

You don’t need huge blocks of time to study. You just have to do it with consistency. 

In fact, frequent short study sessions are far more effective than a few long ones.

Parkinson’s Law tells us that work expands to fit the time allocated. So having more time doesn’t help the situation – it just allows us to work less efficiently.

I always thought I worked effectively, but once I had my babies I became far more efficient as I had to squeeze my work into any little windows of opportunity throughout the day. 

As they say, if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.

Don’t be afraid to say no to things that aren’t absolutely necessary. Draw a line in the sand and make studying a priority, no matter what else you have going on

If you can carve out even one hour a day, you can revise everything you learned that day and re-visit at least one subject.

Here’s how to get started:

  • Step #1 Create a study schedule that includes all of your time commitments. This will help to give you a visual representation of how much time you have available.
  • Step #2 Prioritise your commitments. Do you really need to spend that number of hours at your part-time job? Even if you love the money and the freedom that brings you, is it the highest priority while you are a student?
  • Step #3 Find the self-discipline to make use of any gaps of time you have. Stop thinking of studying as being something that has to be done in long blocks of time. Use flashcards, quizzes and past papers to constantly self-test and revise learned work. 

You’re making great progress!

Your limiting beliefs can pose the biggest obstacles to your success. Identifying, acknowledging and understanding them helps you turn them into superpowers that boost your performance and your results.

It’s time to turn your limiting beliefs into empowering beliefs! If you find yourself procrastinating over your studying, think about what may be holding you back. Write down 10 limiting beliefs, and don’t be afraid to see them on paper. 

We all have them, remember. It’s what you do with them that counts. 

Will you push through and keep going? You bet you will! 

Remember, you can always reach me here if you want some help with this. Let’s get you the results you really want!

One of the biggest challenges people face is finding the balance between their everyday “life” activities – sport, cultural activities, work, relaxing and socialising – and studying. So how – and when – can you find enough time for studying? Should you do it first thing in the morning? Lunchtime? Or later in the day?

Are you ready to get great results in your studies?

You may already think you have a great routine, but I hope to add a new perspective on what it takes to achieve top grades.

Many people believe that it takes hours and hours of studying to great results, but that may be exactly what’s holding you back.

If you’re struggling with finding that amount of time and still having the life you want, then this is the place for you.

Ready to dive into a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into achieving top academic results?

Study Smarter, Not Harder

If you’ve been finding yourself procrastinating in your studies because you don’t want to be chained to a desk, then you may want to re-evaluate the situation.

Ask yourself, why do I think successful studying requires hours and who benefits from that idea?

Other students at school might tell you that they have spent hours studying, but have they really? Sometimes they just say things like that to psyche you out and boost their own confidence at the same time.

Teachers might tell you that you need to be doing hours every night, but that’s because they need to provide a benchmark based on the average student and they want you to be aware not to leave things to the last minute.

But you’re not the average student.

Because you’ve learned how to study smarter, not harder.

You see, it’s not about the hours you spend at your desk, but about how efficiently you work while you’re there.

My Routine for Working Smarter, Not Harder

I’m happy to say that after many years of struggle I have finally achieved the art of working smarter, not harder, and my routine directly influences my ability to succeed.

A day in my life looks a little like this:

Morning: set my goals for the day, along with a clear to-do list so I don’t waste time having to think about what I should be doing
Afternoon: check my list and re-prioritise tasks if necessary so that I ensure I complete anything that absolutely has to be done today
Evening: tidy up any loose ends, do some small tasks to get me ahead for the next day and move any incomplete tasks to tomorrow’s list. Then I get to spend the rest of the night relaxing and recharging before the next day.

So how does it work?

Mornings

Starting the day with a clear to-do list helps me get my thoughts clear and organised. It also helps me to look for any time saving tricks. For example, if I need to return a book from the library and get new pens for my upcoming exams, I can put those two tasks beside each other and do them in the one trip.

Maybe I can get new books for a different subject while I’m at the library, saving me time on another day.

Knowing exactly what needs to be achieved during the day stops me from wasting time having to think about it. If I have any spare moments I can look at my list and see if I can squeeze anything into that time and get it crossed off my list.

Knowing what I need to do also helps to energise me. It’s much easier to make ourselves work if we’re striving to achieve a specific goal.

Without this, I would feel that I have an unending number of tasks to complete and feel too overwhelmed to actually start.

Afternoons

Before I sit down and get started on my afternoon tasks, I always go back and re-assess my list. Crossing off any achieved tasks provides a great sense of accomplishment and puts me in a positive headspace to keep going.

Sometimes I find that having completed certain tasks I no longer need to worry about others on my list, as they have indirectly been taken care of as well. This is a great boost as now I realise that I have more time than I thought.

If I have time I can systematically work through the rest of my list. If I feel that time is tight, I can re-prioritise the remaining tasks on my list to ensure that I complete those that are essential today.

For example, if I have Biology tomorrow, I will prioritise my Biology homework over my History homework as I don’t have History until the following day.

Evenings

In the evenings I set aside some time for new work and allocate time to revise everything I learned at school during the day.

This gives me an opportunity to consolidate my new learnings and to ensure that I really understand the content. Looking over the work the night you learn it means that you can ask your teacher to clarify anything you don’t understand the next day so you won’t continue to feel lost during the following lessons.

I then use my study planner to guide me on what revision or assignment tasks need to be prioritised.

Breaking any tasks or study down into just 45 minute sessions helps to prevent me feeling overwhelmed by it all.

Before I finish up for the night, I write myself a clear plan for the following night so that I know exactly where I got up to and what still needs to be done. In this way, I can hit the ground running the next night without having to think about where I was at.

So, how does my routine compare to yours?

How is your routine helping you to achieve the best possible results?

Don’t be afraid to change it up or to get rid of parts that don’t work for you.

Remember, I’ve had years to get this sorted. And that’s why I’m sharing it, so that you don’t have to go through the same amount of trial and error to be able to enjoy success.

Whatever works for you is what will work best for getting you the results you really want.

Never be fooled into thinking that the amount of time you spend at your desk is an indicator of how hard you are studying

Let’s be honest here. We’re not always working at our most effective levels when we’re ‘studying’.

It’s easy to get distracted. Suddenly you realise how much your desk needs to be cleaned. Or you turn your to-do list into a work of art rather than actually achieving any of the tasks written on it.

Maybe this looks a little too familiar:

Study Graph

We’ve all done it.

But it’s these bad habits that cause us to feel overwhelmed and resentful of the amount of time we spend not getting anywhere.

If you organise your day, you can achieve far more in far less time.

You Need Discipline to Succeed

Now, just because you’re not currently getting the results you want, doesn’t mean you can’t get those top grades.

But it does mean you that you need to take an honest look at how you spend your time before you can prioritise your tasks for manage your time efficiently. But I know you can do it and am here to support you every step of the way.

Let’s be specific in planning out your day:

  • Step #1 Start with a clear, prioritised to-do list so that you don’t forget any tasks
  • Step #2 Re-evaluate your list during the day to celebrate your progress and to see if any activities can be consolidated or deleted.
  • Step #3 Finish off as much of your to-do list as possible, and complete any revision of new learnings from the day. Think of something you can do to get ahead for the next day (eg read the next chapter in your textbook). Always finish by leaving yourself a clear outline of what you have achieved during the day, and where you need to pick up the next night.

Because I know how important daily organisation is, I put together this free (really free!) guide for you. Use it to organise your day and study smarter, not harder.

Click here to download The 5 Step Daily Planner

Wrapping it Up

Success doesn’t stem directly from the amount of time invested.

If you want to succeed as a student, the trick is to organise your day efficiently so that you can achieve more in less time.

Once you get this right, you will have plenty of time for all the other things you want to enjoy, and will no longer resent having to spend time studying.

So, what do you think? What tips could you adopt from this post to help you plan and organise your time more effectively?

You’re well on your way to getting the results you want by studying smarter, not harder.

Remember, you can download my 5 Step Daily Planner to help you study smarter, not harder right here.

Click here to download my 5 Step Daily Planner