Study Less Study Smart | Marty Lobdell | Summary
Marty Lobdell. Lobdell taught Psychology at Pierce College in Washington State for 40 years. During Lobdell's career, he has taught tens of thousands of students. Here he talks about what works best, to ‘study less, study smart’.
It does not matter, where you work. If you can study, you can work smarter. If you can study smarter, you need to study for less time :)
How long can you study effectively
Most of use lose concentration, after studying for 30-40 minutes. Continuing without pause after that is simple waste of time
doableAction Take a break after 30 minutes of concentrated study.
You could use a Pomodoro Timer on a Smartphone App. The old fashioned hourglass timer works well too. Especially if you use it to reinforce your study habit (see next section also)
doableAction Keep your breaks short.
Coffee, Calls, Exercise, Listening to Music are all great ideas for a break, as long as you ensure your breaks do not stretch on.
Monitor your breaks duration for a few days, if needed, to make sure, no changes are needed here.
doableAction After 3-4 sessions with short breaks - give yourself a longer break.
Reinforce your study habits
doableAction Add a small ritual to begin your study.
Switch on a table lamp. Pray to Lord Ganesha. Sit on a particular chair. Set up a Study timer. Whatever, works for you.
As the mind builds association of a particular ritual with concentrated study afterwards, the ritual itself will help you slip into concentration more easily.
If you use music while studying, it has to be truly background music. Anything that gets you thinking in a different direction or your body moving and swaying to a rhythm, is a distraction too.
Thought it may be pleasant enough to convince you, that you study better with it.
Create or use a study area
If you study in the bed, you could doze off. If you study near the kitchen, you could snack more than you want. Near the TV, your breaks could turn into marathons :(
doableAction If you can easily go to a Library to study, do so.
Others studying will reinforce your intent and unplanned breaks will be a little bit harder to take.
Intentional learning is retained more than incidental learning. When you set out to learn something, the setting out to do so (intention) itself makes a difference.
doableAction Before your study session, make an intentional resolve to learn, whatever you are going to learn.
See if speaking it out, works even better for you. ‘I am going to learn, XXX’
If you Pray, this can be simply a part of your one-sentence prayer :)
Discovering the meaning
doableAction - Try the remember all the letters in the sequence, H-W-A-E-D-P-N-P-E-S-Y-D-Y-A.
Done? Now try to remember, H-A-P-P-Y-W-E-D-N-E-S-D-A-Y
doableAction - When you finish your learning session - before you get up to take the break - Relate what have learnt, to something that you already know.
It is great if it is something related you have already learnt. But it is OK even if your relationship is nonsensical to begin with. Associating ‘Machine Learning’ with ‘The Terminator’ is also OK.
The mind needs to store your new stuff somewhere in relation too the things already in there and you are just helping it to do so.
Below are some more tactics to do the same -
Prof. Marty divides his class into two group and asks each group to perform a task. Group 1 is to estimate the number of vowels in each word he will then speak out. Group 2 is to estimate how useful each of the spoken words (items) will be on a deserted island, on a scale of 1 to 5.
A short 30 seconds later (to dump the short term memory), after the words have been spoken - he asks them to recall the words heart.
Students in Group 2 outperform students in Group 1 by double. Group 2 was drawing a deeper meaning around the words beings spoken.
doableAction Discover the meaning of what you are studying and think of how to apply it.
You could also ask yourself, ‘What is the big picture here?’, ‘How it affects me?’ and so on.
These are great question for your teacher also, if you have one.
Upto now, if you have simply realised on memorising the material, then that needs to change big time!
Instead of cramming, come up with an acronym. Acroynms are coined words. Example - ’WHO’. This makes it harder to forget, ‘World Health Organization’.
I did not forget, ‘Black boy raped, one young girl, behind victory garden walls’. It is the code for remembering resistance values in color code. I recalled it just now, 30 years after using it last. Black=0, Brown=1, Red=2, Orange=3, Yellow=4, Green=5, Blue=6 and so on. See this on wikipedia if curious.
doableAction Look for mnemonics to remember facts around a topic. A google search may be all you need.
Let us begin the next section with a Mnemonic
doableAction Remember SQ4R. Survey, Question, Read, Record, Recite, Review.
Consider learning in this sequence -
Survey - simply glance through it
Question - as you survey, do some initial Deeper Processing around the material. ‘Why am I learning this?’, ‘Where does it fit in?’, ‘What does this answer?’ We learn better, when we are looking for answers.
Read & Record - As you learn, take notes in the margin or on a separate paper. I used acronym the key points in the margin with a pencil, with no intention of coming back to it later (or of erasing the pencil marks later :() Just making the acronym immediately after reading was sufficient.
Recite - The more active you are in learning, better it is. Try explaining it to someone imaginary (Library learners, watch out!)
Review - Recall the key points.
doableAction do not scribble away furiously, trying to capture everything. Instead listen and let it go in. Then write only key points, facts, definitions, concepts.
If necessary, make notes in 3 different layer.
Jot down, just then, your ‘I-am-scared-I-am-going-to-forget-this facts in an instant and get back to listening / reading.
Make notes when topic comes to a logical point or in breather breaks. Build around your jots. Add - Not only what you have learnt, but where it links and how it applies.
End-of-day - Review day’s notes and bring them to completion.You may need to cite details, google a bit, gives examples, consult with someone. All this is very valuable to do, while it is still fresh in the mind.
See the difference! of putting in the same learning time, but in this more disciplined way.
Underlining may hurt your efforts
Studying with underlining or a highlighter can be deceptive. You mark it and maybe you come back and read it. But you have not made it your own yet.
That can only happen when you can recite in your words and when you can place it in context of what you already know. Maybe you have a mnemonic for it too.
doableAction If you underline to study, supplement it with some tactics from here, to make your learning deeper.
Is not only about getting into a class. It is about getting your study routine on a regular basis.
doableAction Study with buddies a group. Say, Friday afternoon. It is fun. It is reinforcing. You can make meaning better too.
To get into regular rhythm of studying, you may also need to doableAction ensure you are not binge watching Netflix and Getting enough sleep!