How to study?

Some notes on student success:

  • Someone’s got to tell you money is not extremely important, at least for now.
  • Success repeats.
  • There is one quality in all achievers, “Gratitude”!
  • Success is not bought. It is built, little by little.
  • Phased repetition is more important than one time slog.
  • Focus. Have a direction and stick to it.
  • First 15 hours or so of study gives you an idea, does not make you an expert.
  • After the first 100 hours of preparation, you will know that you know nothing. Keep patience and confidence. Stick to your direction.
  • Practice makes you perfect. There is this 10 year rule. Listen to Angela Lee Duckworth.
  • Mind works at a different speed. Writing perhaps slows you down enough to give your mind the time to think. So, write down important things. Revise.
  • When you can no longer think, stop reading. Take a break. Aptitude is what you are training for. Not, memory.
  • Most key events such as exams happen in the morning hours. So, keep your body cycle such that you are at your best during these hours.
  • Find pleasure in the process of achievement, and not in the achievement itself. That way, you will have many hours of satisfaction instead of just a few moments.
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231 Pages – Cover to Cover – Read in one sitting – 1.5 hours! You can also do it.

Today, I read the book, “How to read better and faster” (author: Norman Lewis) in one sitting, within almost one and half hours. I have always believed that I am a slow reader and I need to increase my reading speed. This book caught my eye at my college library. Today was a peaceful day with almost entire college taking off. So, decided to have a go at it, today.
The comfort of my lab and a purpose to read gave me the initial fuel necessary for speed reading. I looked for central ideas on speed reading. I felt that I sync’ed up with author’s style of writing very quickly, perhaps in the first chapter itself. Thankfully, the author kept to the same writing style and used very lucid vocabulary. The beginning of each chapter summarized the earlier chapters and gave hints at what to expect in that chapter. Clear titles and sub-titles made the speed reading easier. I picked up the concept of “no regression” from this book. This refers to the practice of not going back to re-read something that I believe to have missed. Further, I picked up the concept of “varying the pace” of my reading. I read the initial summary a little slower than the middle of the book. I saw the author cajoling, threatening and providing lots of evidences whenever he made some point. I was least interested in this part. So, I skimmed through the middle of chapters and slowed down in areas where some concepts were emphasized.
When my purpose was clear, I noticed that I did not perform “lip movements” or “hearing the words“, that the author claims as deterrent habits of speed reading. Whenever I felt that I have lost the author, I saw this happening. In this book, there very hardly one or two occasions in which I had such problems. But, it is not uncommon for me, with other books (novels, etc). Perhaps, the point is, as soon as we can sync up with the author’s writing style, vocabulary and get a basic idea of the topic, we should be good to read better and faster. If I feel that I do too much of lip movements and hearing of words, I should just stop and think, what’s wrong or missing in my understanding instead of forcing myself to complete the reading.
A key point that the author emphasized was on comprehension. There is no point in wasting our time on reading something that does not add any value to us or that which cannot extend our knowledge. To this context, it is important to mix the above techniques appropriately. Always read with a purpose. Decide what to gain and what to leave. Know if you are reading for pleasure or business.
Author also emphasized on practice. From my experience, I know that I am a slow learner. I always take time to learn. I excel in my second attempt. In my undergrad days, I used to wonder how my brilliant class-mates could understand the material in first attempt! Now, I realize, it is just my nature. I must skim first, get the idea. I should read again and again to master the thoughts. However, I understand that it takes fewer iterations for me to get the real mastery over the subject. My comprehension came a long way to help me with my current study/research rigor of PhD. I realize that what matters is not how much we can learn in a short while, rather, how much can we retain for a long while! Iterations of learning help much better than read-forget cycle, which unfortunately is heavily supported by our educational system in schools.
For someone of my kind, whose daily life includes massive amount of reading, it is important to structure the reading behavior. Time is of course, limited and we want to ensure that we make the most of every minute spent reading. I will strongly recommend anyone who feels that their reading habits are not efficient, to read this book titled “How to read better and faster”. Happy reading!

Just get one element correct for success in life

Do you wish to be a great researcher, an awesome speaker, charming actor, sharp businessman, elite athlete or exhibit any such greatness? Well it is easy. All you need to know is one simple thing, “Focus”. Focus is a very easy quality to understand but a very hard quality to practice. How many times have you sat in a class and just lost everything and entered your dreams in the first 45 minutes? How many times have you started writing a paper and ended up with a different story? We wish to do something that is important. We start with it. Somehow, after a few minutes, we just lose it. Lack of concentration or focus! How to control our mind to maintain focus? How to be alert? If you are a chess player, you will quickly understand all this. We work with multiple priorities and we chose wrong options many times, because of lack of focus. Success and greatness follows those people who have the highest element of focus. For instance, consider, the great cricketer, Tendulkar and the chess champion, Vishwanathan Anand. These players could have excelled only because they picked up one thing and stuck to it for life. No distractions. Ultimate focus. Nothing is impossible to achieve. Everything needs focus.

Learn to focus and enjoy success in life.

Don’t miss this awesome read.