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3 Simple Rules for the Formation of Good Habits

3 Simple Rules for the Formation of Good Habits

Do you often find that you don’t have enough time to study? You are not alone and many students are faced with this. Procrastination is often the cause for the students’ lack of time for studying and one way to address procrastination is to form good habits. In this article, I am going to share the three principles behind the formation of good habits.


1. Make the Habit Visible

In order to form good habits, the first thing we need to be clear what are the current habits that we practise every day. For example, on a daily basis, some of us will follow the habits of brushing our teeth, washing our faces, running on the treadmill, etc. By making the habits explicit and being aware, we can then think of inserting new habits at appropriate junctures in our daily routine. For example, students may want to form a new habit of studying for an hour straight after having their shower which make them refreshed.


2. Make The Habit Enticing and Satisfying

We all need to feel motivated to perform the habit. Getting a reward after completing a new habit makes it enticing and allow us to feel motivated. To do this, one has to link an action you want to do with an action you need to do. For example, after studying for an hour (action that you need to do), you will check on the social media (action that you want to do).


3. Make the Habit Simple

Many of us give up on habits because we find it difficult to do it on a continuous basis. For example, you want to lead a healthy lifestyle and hence have set aside an hour of exercise time each day, 7 times a week. However, as you have never exercised regularly before, trying to exercise 7 times a week will prove too difficult for you and you will probably choose to give up on the habit. Hence in order for one to start on a new habit, it has to easy at the start and then increase the difficulty level as one progresses. One way to do this is to use “The 2 Minute Rule” which is to downscale the version of the habit into two minutes or make it a much simpler action to perform at the start and then progressively increase the difficultly level. For example, if you want to form a habit of studying every day, applying the 2 Minute rule, it will be something like studying one page of your notes (a very light version of forming the habit of studying) everyday progressing into studying 3 pages of your notes every day and then eventually progressing to studying one chapter every day. Another way is to have one-time actions that will make your implementation of your habit easy. For example, setting a recurring alert on your handphone to study is an example of a one-time action.


Remember these 3 simple rules and you are on your way to form good habits!

Identifying Negative Thoughts and Addressing Them

Identifying Negative Thoughts and Addressing Them

As we step into the journey of adulthood, negative thoughts surface in our minds which results in self-doubt and impact on our confidence and ability in our academic studies. It is impossible for anyone not to have any negative thoughts because our brains are wired to think negatively. However, the extent of having negative thoughts is experienced more frequently for pessimists as compared to optimists.

I am going to share with you some of the common types of negative thoughts and I am pretty sure it will resonate with you.


1. All In or All Out

This type of negative thought assume things are either all good or all bad. For example, if you get an A for the subject, you are on top of the world. If you get a F for another subject, you think that it is the end of the world. Let’s challenge this type of negative thought using this example. If you get an A, there is also the likelihood that you rest on your laurels and may slack off in future. If you get a F, you can work hard and there is only room for improvement! So, things aren’t all good or all bad.


2. Just the Bad

This type of negative thought gets people to see the glass as half empty rather than half filled. For example, if one scores 90 marks for a test, instead of feeling happy about it, he sees the bad side of things and will instead lament on missing out 10 marks to get a perfect score.


3. Labeling

This type of negative thought involves attaching a negative label to yourself or someone else resulting in reducing your motivation in the process of doing so. For example, one who did badly just once for his exams will conclude that he is stupid and therefore feels dejected and gives up on his studies.


4. Palm Reader

This type of negative thought predicts the worst outcome with limited or no data. For example, one will predict that he will do badly for his O levels with no data to back up the prediction.


5. Cannot Be My Fault

This refers to people who externalize their own issues to others and blame others for their mistakes. For example, if one doesn’t do well for his exam, he blames it on the teacher’s unclear explanations or his parents for asking him not to study too hard. In any case, it is never his fault.


To address these negative thoughts, simply do a fact or fiction exercise. Anytime, you have a negative thought, ask yourself if it is true or false and it needs to be validated with evidence. More often than not, one will realise most of the negative thoughts aren’t true.

Exercise your negative thoughts and you will be able to achieve much more in your studies!

Finding the Motivation to Do Well in School

Finding the Motivation to Do Well in School

Getting good grades in school can only be achieved if you put in a lot of effort to study. However, the amount of effort that students put in is largely determined by how motivated you are. To be motivated, you need to find your individual source of motivation.

In this article, I am going to share on the possible sources of motivation for you to discover.


1. Relationships

Students want to do well because they care for the people around them which can include your parents, siblings and friends. You may want to do well because your parents have certain expectations of you and you do not want to disappoint them. Doing well in your studies may also offer you the opportunity to secure a good job and provide a better quality of life for your family.


2. School

You may have a certain school of your choice that you would like to enrol whether it is a secondary school or polytechnic or junior college or university. The reasons for entering that particular school could be due to the school having an excellent track record or you think that you fit into the school’s culture. Whatever it is, having your ideal choice of school in mind to enrol will be another source of motivation for you to do well.


3. Friends

Friends play an instrumental role in our growing up years and believe that some of you would agree that the choice of school may be influenced by the school chosen by your bffs. So for some of you who would like to stick with your good friends who happen to do well in their studies and are aiming for the schools that have good academic track record, that will be your motivation to join them in those schools!


4. Finances

There is no need to feel ashamed if the primary motivation for wanting to score good grades is because you want to earn more money. Many of the students strive to do well in school because of wanting to earn more money when they grow up. If that can motivate you to work hard, go for it!


5. Personal Interest

Having an interest in something often drives one to channel their energy in pursing their interest. Many will agree that we find time passes away so quickly when we are doing something that we are interested in. Hence, if you can find a course of study or subject that you are interested in and pursue it, that will definitely help in securing good grades.


See which of the sources of motivation speak to you and with that source of motivation in mind, chart out your goals and work towards it!

Setting Study Goals

Setting Study Goals

In an earlier article, I have mentioned that in order for you to be motivated, you need to find the possible source of motivation that will spur you towards achieving your goals. If you are not motivated at all, there is no chance that you will ever score good grades in school. After finding your source of motivation and focusing on it, you need to work on the “how” aspect of getting yourself motivated. One way to do so is to set yourself study goals.

In this article, I am going to share on the step-by-step approach that will guide you in the setting of study goals.


1. Frame Specific Study Goals

Write your study goal as specific as possible so that you can better focus on it and also it will be easier to measure if you have made progress towards it. Set goals using SMART as a guiding principle. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Based. Just to give an example of a SMART goal. I want to improve my score in A Level Chemistry (relevant) by 2 grades (specific, measurable, achievable) in 3 months’ time (time based).


2. List All The Reasons and Benefits For Achieving That Goal

Writing down the reasons and benefits for achieving the goal will serve as added motivation for you to strive towards the goal. The reasons can range from getting into a good school, increased self-confidence as a result of scoring well, feeling happy and motivated, etc. List the benefits that speak to you because different students will relate to different reasons and benefits.


3. Formulate a Course of Action with Specific Datelines.

After writing the specific goal and listing the associated reasons, you need to formulate a course of action in order to work towards your goal. For example, using the earlier goal that was mentioned in the article, you can list different course of actions which could include spending more time each day on the subject, getting a Chemistry tutor, consulting your school teacher after classes, etc. Make sure that you set a dateline for completing each course of action. Nothing will happen without any action!


4. Act Now

The killer for all actions is procrastination. Do not procrastinate and act now towards your study goals. Make a commitment towards your goal and share it with your best friend or parents to ensure accountability and your commitment towards it.


Follow this step-by-step guide and you will be one step closer towards achieving your study goals!

Understanding the Different Types of Tasks and Prioritizing Them

Understanding the Different Types of Tasks and Prioritizing Them

The key challenge to time management for students is finding time to work on schoolwork. To address this challenge, students need to be able to understand the different types of tasks and prioritize their time accordingly based on their relevance to the study goals you set. Tasks can be categorized using the two axis: a) goal directed or non goal directed and b) urgent or non urgent. Goal directed in this context will be referring to the tasks that are related to the achievement of academic/study goals.

In the rest of the article, I will share the four different types of tasks that will aid you in the prioritization.


1. Type 1: Urgent and Goal Directed (T1)

These tasks are urgent and contribute to the progress of your study goals. Examples of such tasks include submitting homework that is due soon, studying for an upcoming test, completing project work, etc


2. Type 2: Not Urgent and Goal Directed (T2)

These tasks are not urgent and contribute to the progress of your study goals. Examples of such tasks include reading your notes ahead of the lecture, making notes for exam preparation, exercising daily, etc


3. Type 3: Urgent and Non-Goal Directed (T3)

These tasks are urgent and do not contribute to the progress of your study goals. Examples of such tasks include answering phone calls from friends and family members, replying text messages to people in your social circle, running family errands, etc.


4. Type 4: Not Urgent and Non-Goal Directed (T4)

These tasks are not urgent and do not contribute to the progress of your study goals. Examples of such tasks include going to your friend’s birthday party, surfing on social media, binge watching on Youtube/Netflix, hanging out with friends, playing online games, etc


Now that you are able to relate to the different types of tasks that you encounter daily, you then need to have broad guidelines to allocate your time to the different tasks. For T2 tasks, you should spend 50-60% of your time on such tasks because they are critical to your progression towards your study goals. For T1 tasks, you should spend 15-20% of your time on them. No doubt such tasks contribute to your study goals, but if you are able to do proper planning, there shouldn’t be so many tasks that become urgent and compete for your limited time. For T3 tasks, you should spend 10-15% of your time on them because while it isn’t goal directed, you still need to complete them because life is not just about studies. For T4 tasks, you should spend the least time on them, say 5-10% of your time because we are still humans after all and spending time on pleasure and things we like is a necessity!

Hope that the tips provided above can help you manage your time better for your studies!

6 Tips to Achieve Better Concentration When Studying

6 Tips to Achieve Better Concentration When Studying

Do you find it hard to concentrate while studying? You are not alone. Most students find it hard to focus given the many distractions that we have such as social media, online gaming, Netflix, texting over the phone, etc.

In this article, I am going to share 6 tips that can help you focus better when studying.

1. Limit your distractions

Studying is already hard enough and when distractions come into play, it gets even more challenging. To achieve better concentration, you need to know what are the things that distract you and steer clear away from them as much as possible. Some of the common distractions include your handphone that has this immense power to glue you to it whether it is checking out the latest updates on social media or exchanging messages with friends or catching the latest shows on Netflix. Another common distraction is the presence of your bed. It looks so comfortable that in one moment you find yourself getting out of your study chair and plonking yourself onto the comfortable bed. You can try the following:

  • Put away your phone or pass it to someone you trust so that you can’t lay your hands on it.
  • If sleeping is a big temptation, don’t study in your bedroom and go out to a library where there are simply no beds.

The golden rule is to make sure that you remove the distractions or create as much difficulty as possible in accessing the distractions.


2. Do not multitask

Multitasking impedes concentration and results in lower productivity. You must learn to form a habit of not multitasking when you are studying.


3. Set a start and end time for each day

You may think that setting a start and end time for each day that you are studying may be seen as overly rigid or structured. Unlike engaging in your favorite activity such as catching Netflix, online gaming, etc where you can spend countless hours on it, most of you will not consider studying as your favorite activity. Hence, setting a start and end time for each of your study day will give you something to look forward as you reach the end time of each day and also provide some discipline in committing to your study time.


4. Reward yourself at the end of each study interval

You should set yourself a duration that is suitable for your attention span and commit to it as the duration for your study interval. At the completion of each study interval, you should reward yourself with a short break to do what you like to do for e.g. checking out your social media, watching netlflix or youtube, etc


5. Use your phone camera or webcam to record yourself studying

To ensure the discipline and commitment to studying, you should instil some form of accountability that will remind you of your commitment to studying. You can do a video recording using your handphone or webcam and share it with someone who can hold you accountable to it. The person can be your good friend who wants to see you do well or parents or even your tutors. The important thing is that the person you have chosen must take you to task.


6. Create an ideal study environment

You should try to find out what is your ideal study environment that will be conducive for you when studying. Factors such as good lighting, comfortable and quiet space, having a clear desk and cool temperature are things that you should take note of when creating an ideal study environment. Having said that, everyone is different in terms of what they want as the ideal study environment. Hence, what works for one may not work for the other person.


Hope that the tips provided above can help you concentrate better! Good luck for your studies!

5 Types of Mistakes Students Commonly Make

5 Types of Mistakes Students Commonly Make

After getting the results from a test or exam, do you review the paper and analyse the mistakes that caused you to lose marks? My guess is that most students don’t do that and hence missed out on a golden opportunity to identify the root cause behind the mistakes to do better the next time round.

There are five main types of mistakes that student commonly make during exams.


1. Did not study

Students lose marks simply because they did not study for the test/exam. The simple way to address this is to put in more effort or time to study for the chapters covered in the exam.


2. Unable to understand

You may have gone through the chapters for the exam but skipped the content which you didn’t quite understand and just merely memorized it. Hence, when the questions in the exam are meant to test for understanding, you feel stuck when attempting them. To address this, you have to conscientiously ask yourself if you are able to understand the rationale behind the content. To test if you truly understand the concept, try explaining it to another friend and if your friend understands your explanation, it shows that you have clearly understood.


3. Unable to remember

If you lose marks because you were not able to remember what you studied, besides putting in more time and effort to study, you will need to use different memory techniques to help you better remember the content. Some of the techniques include using spaced repetition over different days in a week, abbreviations linking to a term or visual, etc.


4. Cannot Apply

Application is a higher-level task than understanding and remembering in the process of learning. If you are unable to apply, it could be because you have not understood or remembered your content. If you have understood and remembered your content, it means that you have not practiced enough to tackle all the possible questions that come your way. The solution is to try as many past year papers as possible so that you are exposed to the different types of questions.


5. Being careless

To lose marks due to carelessness is really wasteful. To address this, students need to allocate time to check through their answers. They should also make sure they read the questions carefully before attempting. To avoid being careless is to make sure that you don’t rush through the questions and the only way to do this is to practise more so that you will be able to solve the questions quickly and won’t need to rush through the questions which may result in careless mistakes being made.


Try this out and am sure you can do better for your next exam!