A good percentage of the readers of this blog are what I might call, “well trained” students. No, that’s not that they’re good students. No, it’s also not that they’re well educated. They certainly don’t feel comfortable with the strategies taught on this blog.This week’s question can help me clarify what I mean:
I’ve read the advice on your blog. I want to try to the 15 Minute Study Strategy but I can never get myself to stop studying at only 15 minutes a night. I always feel super guilty if I stop studying too early. I’m afraid I’ll have to watch my grades get worse before they get better and that keeps me from following through with the strategy. Do you have anything for getting out of the traditional routine and into yours without going nuts with guilt?
I know that guilt you’re suffering through. I remember going through those feelings myself. Those feelings of guilt can keep you from ever getting well adapted to a shorter study session strategy. It’s an emotional block that, even if you are able to ignore once or twice, will constantly kick back and hinder your adaptation to the new strategy.
The guilt is fundamentally irrational though. If you accept that you can achieve equal or better grades investing less time into studying then it’s irrational to feel guilty about studying less. No… I’m not saying you’re crazy. I went through that adaptation phase myself. (Mine was long and drawn out because I was devising most of this from scratch and a few obscure studies.) This guilt usually is not really about you anyway.
Why do dolphins jump through hoops? Dolphins certainly don’t have any biological need to jump out of pools and through hoops to impress adoring crowds. They do it because they have been trained to do it. The trainers gave the dolphins food whenever they went through the hoop. Then, the trainers slowly moved the hoop higher and higher. Young people are regularly “trained” through similar methods.
Parents and teachers have wanted you to get good grades for years. Many parents and teachers reward students that invest a large amount of time into studying. (At a young age, the large time investment study strategies are often the most effective.)
When a student fails to study, there is virtually always a teacher or parent willing to scold the student. This is a form of training. While this way of describing it makes it sound negative, this training is the majority of the way people learn how the world works. The fundamental problem with this strategy is that it’s often inexact.
If you study for hours and hours before a test and your parents and/or teachers know how much you studied. There is virtually no person that would scold you for failing after trying so hard. They will tell you, “you tried really hard,” and “you’ll do better next time.” If you spent very little time studying and fail then you’ll get guilt trips from virtually everyone. No one will ask if you were experimenting with some new study strategy. Notice that imbalance.
Many students (unintentionally) are trained that study time is more important than results. As long as they waste hours a night, they will get the approval from those around them. The final scores hardly even matter. If you don’t invest that same time (success or failure) you will feel that guilt.
I’m telling you this, not because it helps in some awesomely unusual way. It’s just something that can help you to be aware of your own emotional blocks. There are no quick tricks to solve the problem you’re having. All the solutions ultimately come down to you learning a better way and realizing, intellectually and instinctually, that time invested is not synonymous with approval achieved.
The most powerful tool you have is awareness.
Pull it off like a bandage for one month. Convince yourself to follow through for that single month. After that single month, the results will speak for themselves. If you stick it out and follow the rules then you’ll never have that feeling of guilt again. You’ll be too busy enjoying your new short study session.
Do you want to know how to study in less than 15 minutes a night? That’s what this blog is all about. Be sure to follow and check out the archives to learn more. If you’re looking for a crash course, be sure to check out the ebooks in the sidebar.
Aaron Richardson took his grades from fighting F’s to Easy A’s. In the process, he read over 300 books on personal development. Today he’s founded 2 blogs on studying including Smart Student Secrets. He’s written 3 books on the subject. His work has been featured on some of the biggest news, psychology, and student sites on the internet.
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