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On Studying

How do you all study? Perhaps the better question is, "Do any of you think about how you study?" Maybe I'm just odd, but I have a fascination with meta-studying; that is, I constantly scheme about better ways to study, better places to study, and stratagies on the perfect work-to-break ratio. For all of these, I take in, of course, factors such as location, sleep from the night before, presence of caffeinated beverages, meals, time of day, interest in material, preoccupation with other aspects of life, amount of studying already done that day, etc...

My personal favorite combination is as follows:
  • Mr. Gerber, in the library, with the candlestick...Well, at least Mr. Gerber in the library. Being surrounded by books sometimes overwhelms me with two thoughts: (1) I had better get cracking or I'll never have even a chance to read them all; and (2) All these people that wrote these books had to study, so I should too. I personally prefer Love South (in the stacks) on level 3A; and yes, I do have a favorite study cubicle--the one just west of the very middle area.
  • I often walk up and down the rows of books if: (1) I am alone in the room or at least able to walk in a way that other people won't notice what I am doing; (2) I am reading a book light enough to carry for extended periods of time or am studying from bound notebook of notes; and (3) I am getting sleepy sitting down and am not too tired (leg-wise, not sleep-wise) to continue walking--sometimes I walk for hours in the stacks. I do have to keep a constant watch for the elevator since I don't want people to catch me walking through the library reading, but 3A is the most out of the way part of the library, so I generally feel safe.
  • While I am not walking, I sit in the cubicle, and, if I am reading, I like to put my feet up on the desk. This often induces sleep, but the position is not so comfortable that I am able to sleep for long periods of time. Thus, after having quickly fallen asleep, I wake up just as quickly, and those ten minute naps refresh me so that I can continue working. Sometimes sleep embodies my most productive breaks.
  • I prefer to take with me a mug of coffee and my Nalgene bottle of water. I drink the coffee first (generally while sitting), but then drink the Nalgene bottle either while I am still sitting or while pacing, all for which I have several reasons: (1) drinking the coffee first allows the caffeine to supply energy to me right from the beginning, and if I don't drink it right away, it will get cold; (2) the water is good for hydration after drinking dehydrating coffee; (3) drinking all the liquids force me to take more breaks than I would normally, because my impulse is to go full-throttle until I can do no more.
  • Because of class schedule and sleep habits, the afternoon is generally the best part of the day to study, but it is the time I am most prone to sleepiness. On Tuesday-Thursdays, though I do not have a class until 12:30. On these days, I make it a priority to take advantage of my hyper-productive morning hours by doing as much (generally reading that I do in the library) as I can before lunch.
  • When I do have to study in my room--for example, if I am writing a paper or working on computer programming--music is a must. If I am writing, classical is the best pick, but for computer programming, I have been pleased with the results of using Dave Matthew's Band music. I'm still working out all the bugs here, though.
That is a fairly good summary of how, when, and where I study. I would be interested in your suggestions, especially since I just realized how much time I just spent writing about studying efficiency that I could have applied to actually studying. Oh, well.

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It's probably just because I'm a music major, but I can NOT listen to music when I study. Pretty soon I end up only listening to the music and not studying. Then I focus on studying, but I get upset because I'm probably missing something good in the music. The TV is less distracting than music. A conversation at the next table over is less distracting than music.

I also can't listen to music in the car with another person unless we're really not talking (this bugs several people I know). I can't talk over music... not because I'm a music major purist, or anything, but because I can't concentrate hard enough to form a sentence that makes sense if there's music playing.

Anyway, what were we talking about?


First of all, I commend your study habits and can attest to the truth of each one. I often see Jacob while working in the stacks on 3A and make it a point to distract him as best I can. This mostly involves dropping things and making other loud noises, and once involved the stealing of "Mr. Sippy," his coffee mug.

Unfortunately, I am far less disciplined. When I lived on campus, I made a habit of going to the library at night to study, but have gotten away from this since I moved home. Now I try to study in my room, which is a complete disaster, with my computer, music, and an infinite number of other distractions. This inefficiecy has only exacerbated my habit of procrastination. I've been chronically behind in my homework and studying this semester, and I don't foresee the situation improving anytime soon.

I find there is something strangely fun and addicting about procrastinating on tests and major assignments. There's something of an adrenaline rush in starting a paper at midnight which is due the next morning. Tests are the same way. God has blessed me with a good short term memory, and I do my best to steward that gift by cramming it full of facts just before a test, and then emptying it onto the paper and forget them forever. I took this to a new level today on my Theory of Knowledge test, by putting off the bulk of my studying until an hour before the test, and skipping the previous class in order to do this studying. We'll find out whether it worked or not.

I realize such strategies could hurt me in the long run (e.g. trying to write a thesis a day or two before it's due) but, as they say, old habits are hard to break.

I am what I call a "procrastinating perfectionist," which means that due to my irrational expectations of perfection, I procrastinate until the last possible moment; needless to say, the results are not usually in the realm of "perfection," yet I invariably assume that I will--one glorious day--write that absolutely perfect paper at two o'clock in the morning.
As for reading, my extroverted self prefers to be in a room with other people; I alternate between the Neihardt study rooms, the Coho, and the Mill.
And as for cramming...well, I can't remember the last time I actually studied more than thirty minutes for a test--probably 10th grade biology or something. (Science has never been my forte.)

All in all, the only conclusion I can draw is this:
1. Lindsay's study skills bad.
2. Coffee good.

My forms of procrastination usually manifest themselves in typing out a study guide, completely forgetting about it, then reading it on the way to the test, willing myself to utilize my sometimes-functioning photographic memory. With my math class, I employ insipid attempts at reading the material followed by "I hate math! It is utterly useless to my existence!" then discarding the book until the next assignment.

When it comes to studying philosophy and theology, I take my tea and ensconce myself in the Engineering building, where no one talks except to compare notes on heat transfer and biochemicals. Seeing as I'm studying the "soft sciences," most are too scared to chat about Kant and Nietszche anyway.

I really don't know how to study. You read through your notes once or twice...then what? I don't know. I never learned any study skills in highschool (mostly because I never studied for anything in high school), and I sure haven't picked them up in college. Thankfully I'm to the point in my classes now where I don't really have very many tests, just projects and the odd paper here and there. (In the words of Napoleon Dynamite, "Yesssss!")

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