The average student prepares for his university finals for more than 300 hours over one month. I prepared for mine only for 3 hours each day.
For the past several weeks, I was working hard on finishing my University and preparing for the finals. That included:
- learning all about microeconomics
- learning all about macroeconomics
- understanding how businesses work
- understanding how finance works
I did all of this in my full working routine, without my customers even noticing that something was different. I simply prioritized what was important, cut all the insignificant parts and focused on the inevitable.
This way, I was able to study each day for an average of just 2-3 hours.
It might seem like an impossible task, but I was just following three core concepts:
#1: The earlier you start, less time you need each day
The first principle is obvious and yet so many students fail to plan accordingly. We have a natural tendency to procrastinate and postpone the beginning of unpleasant things till the very last moment.
This hilarious Ted Talk of Tim Urban explains how it works.
So instead of starting one month in advance, I was making summaries on-the-go during my whole study. That way, when I wanted to review all the exam topics, I did not need to write summaries all over again. I simply used my old ones.
#2: The law of the vital few
To everything I was studying, I applied simple Pareto principle (known also as 80/20 rule or the law of the vital few):
Roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.
That means I focused on 20% most important things from each subject leading to 80% of required knowledge. And when I went over everything for the second time, I simply … applied Pareto principle again. And then again.
When you have too much stuff to remember, apply Pareto principle multiple times. At the end, all the unimportant facts dissapear and only core principles remain.
Just for your imagination:
- For the first time I was able to minimize 30 pages long chapters into 4 page summaries.
- For the second revision, the summaries had maximum of one page.
- After third revision, the summaries were smaller than a post-it note.
And it’s not so hard to remember 20 post-it notes (a.k.a. exam questions), right?
#3: Garbage in, garbage out
The last point is not so connected with the act of studying as it is connected with lifestyle.
You are what you eat.
This simple advice is especially important when it comes to mental activities such as studying or working on tough tasks. When you eat quality food with healthy fats and without any artificial sugars, the quality of the whole process grows exponentially.
So, throw away all your Snickers and candies. Buy some avocados, all kind of nuts, carrots or even dark chocolate (at least 85%). And make sure you don’t run out of them in advance.
So, the things you need to remember are: start early, focus on the most important things and watch out what you eat. And now — go. The schoolwork won’t learn itself by reading this article.
This article is the part of my creative writing challenge. 30 days. 30 posts. At the worst possible time. Follow me to find out more.