Where college girls get better grades without the stress, overwhelm and lack of social life.
Last week we talked about why your current study routine isn’t working, and I gave you the 3 key elements of a consistent study routine. Today we’re going to deep dive into how you begin creating your consistent study routine. I will show you how to choose the right learning activities that will make it into your new routine.
Before we can do that, we must address two additional steps in creating a consistent study routine…
They are a cue and a reward.
Every routine needs a cue.
The cue is a catalyst that catapults you into action. If you recall in the experiments of the rats, before they dashed in the direction of the chocolate they waited for an important step, the sound of music. That was their signal that it was time to perform. Every routine needs a cue, something that triggers you into the action steps I am going to help you come up with in just a bit.
How do you decide what your cue should be?
To determine your cue you need a better feel for your schedule. What are you already doing everyday? Where do you have free pockets of time? Are there days of your week that generally always play out the same?
Maybe your typical day goes something like this:
In this routine there is an obvious action that can trigger your reading routine and become your cue: walking by the library.
The beautiful thing about this is you’re not changing anything about your daily life. You’re just inserting a plot twist right as you’re walking past the library. Instead of heading to the dorm you whip into the library and start your new routine.
Your cue doesn’t have to be a location like in this example, it can be a certain time of the day, a class, a meal or a day of the week. The cue is important because your brain will remember and condition itself to repeat the activities that normally follow, especially when you introduce the reward.
Your action step is to try to think about your daily routine and pinpoint something that is always the same about your day. What can you turn into your cue? Make sure you leave me a comment telling me what your cue is going to be.
Every routine also needs a reward.
A rush of dopamine that will create a craving. Studies have shown that cravings drive our behaviors. If every time you accomplish a task your brain got filled with happy feelings, you’d want to repeat that behavior. The best way to choose a reward is to think about what you always choose over studying.
What feeling is that giving you? How can you build that feeling into your study routine?
If it’s community, maybe put together a study group or schedule your study routine right before you meet your friends for dinner each night.
Building Your Study Routine: How do you come up with the best learning activities to create your study routine?
Well, first we have to think back to the purpose of your routine.
- Do you want it to help you stay on top of your reading assignments so you don’t have to play catch up later?
- Will it help you complete your homework on time so you don’t lose points?
- Do you want it to help you finally pass the class? Your purpose is crucial to determining what activities go into your routine.
The requirements of your class and the purpose of studying also tell us what steps to include.
The reason why we study is to learn what we still don’t know about the material we’re going to be assessed on, so that we can fill those knowledge gaps before it’s too late. You need to know the requirements of your class so you know how to get an A and prepare.
- What makes up your grade? Class participation, pop-quizzes, daily homework assignments, attendance?
- What’s the style of the exam (essay based, multiple choice, open book, verbal)
All of these things are going to determine what you do when you’re studying. The things you do to study for a verbal spanish exam are going to be different than the things you do to study for an open book psych exam.
When you come up with the learning activities for your study routine you always have to ask yourself, what actions will help me best learn the material and test my knowledge on it?
Let’s say we want a routine to help us optimize our textbook reading time so that we can stay ahead of our reading assignments and corresponding notes. Our exam for this class will be short answers and essay based.
What are the key learning actions that have to go into a textbook reading routine optimized for testing and time?
- Well, to save time we don’t want to read a textbook like a novel. Instead, we want to hunt for what we really need to know, the key points.
- The objectives, headlines, tables, graphs, end of chapter questions and summary serve as our map and guide us to the key points. It makes sense to include these steps as part of the reading routine.
- The end of chapter questions allow us to test our knowledge but, we can also do this by writing a summary of the section we just read. This helps us practice writing short answers.
All of these steps are useful learning actions that will make up our new reading routine.
Your routine needs clear, detailed steps you can duplicate.
Don’t be vague and say things like, I’m going to study for biology on Mondays at 3pm. Nothing becomes dynamic until it becomes specific. What does studying look like?
Within your routine you can also include things like meetings with your professor, the writing center or tutoring. I’ve created an extensive list of learning activities for you in this week’s cramsheet. You can download it below.
Addressing procrastination. What good is a routine if you never stick to it?
Let’s just be clear, there is no cure for procrastination all we can do is work towards procrastinating less. At the core of your procrastination is lack of self-trust and confidence and I’m going to prove it to you.
When we were little my brother Jayson and I had an agreement that I wouldn’t share his secrets with our other brother Joshua. But of course, I was also playing double agent for Joshua so I would immediately tell him what Jayson shared.
One day I was trying to get Jayson to tell me a secret and he blatantly said, “No. I’m not telling you because I don’t trust you anymore, you always tell Joshua.” And he was right, my track record proved to him that I was not trustworthy. In fact, I was a straight up blabber mouth.
This is exactly what happens with you internally. Every time you make an agreement to study and you procrastinate, you break an agreement with yourself. Break this agreement enough times and you begin to lose trust and confidence in yourself, just like you would if someone else kept lying to you.
If you want to procrastinate less, at some point you have to earn back your trust. How do you do that? The way I had to rebuild my trust with Jayson, one secret at a time. You must follow through with one agreement at a time. Even if the next day you break it, it’s ok because you’re proving to yourself that you can do what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it. This will build your confidence.
The more times you stick with your new study routine, the faster you’ll begin to rebuild self-trust and the less you’ll procrastinate in the future.