Another semester is “in the books” and I have already begun studying some courses for the summer. Physics II and Chemistry II have both consumed neurons from my brain that I am not sure I’ll ever get back. But, it was worth it to get an A in both.
Here is what helped. Back in March I made a goal of being more organized. With working 40 hrs / week, studying four nights out of the same week, raising 2 kids, living harmoniously with my wife, and activities at church, things were bound to get hairy. So, I figured organizing myself would help keep my mind clear, lessen stress and give me time to be with my family and do the things I enjoy.
I am not a genius, so “studying smart” was going to be important. This was the “code of organization” I lived by this past semester:
1. Study every day – Some days I studied 30 minutes while other days I spent 2 hours reviewing concepts and notes. My brain was able to soak in little by little and not have to deal with the “mental overload” I experienced in the past with Chemistry I and Physics I (don’t remind me!).
2. Don’t cram – There is no way that I can cram weeks of complex information into my hippocampus while running on high doses of caffeine. No way! Not me!
3. Review and study specifics – I spent time focusing and mastering concepts I previously didn’t grasp completely. At one point after not doing so well on a lab quiz, a friend brought to my attention sections of the online homework assignments that I hadn’t completed. Ironically, these homework sections covered the exact material on the lab quiz. Doh!
4. Focus – Early on I learned that a key to my success was having my mind completely focused on what I was studying at the same time I was studying. This meant I needed to get rid of all distractions and actually pay attention to what I was doing. Distractions = nada in the brain-o.
After my last final I had a weird feeling. I wasn’t tired or exhausted or “ready for the semester to be over”. It was almost as if I didn’t have “closure” for the end of the semester.
I don’t possess a photographic memory so it took a lot of hard work for me to understand most of what was taught. But I believe that my success was due, in part, to having a plan and sticking to it.