Goodbye, Facebook

Goodbye, Facebook

I’ve had a longstanding tradition of ditching all social networks when the last two weeks of classes come by. In fact, I’ve gone so far as to install browser extensions that let me block websites completely; so I’m not tempted to try and visit while I’m working. While this may initially seem like something crazy … Read more

bye bye facebook

I’ve had a longstanding tradition of ditching all social networks when the last two weeks of classes come by. In fact, I’ve gone so far as to install browser extensions that let me block websites completely; so I’m not tempted to try and visit while I’m working. While this may initially seem like something crazy to attempt, it actually has helped me to increase focus, study time and energy – at a time that I need it most. If you’re interested in doing something like this, here’s what I do.

Block the sites

Let’s face it, we’re creatures of habit. Writer Grace Boyle puts it succinctly:

We are creatures of habit. We find comfort in regularity. When something out of the ordinary comes along, forces us to dig deep and make a U-Turn instead of keep going straight, it’s jarring.

We don’t like change. Nonetheless, change is what’s required for us to achieve our goals of better focus and better grades. We’re not alone, however, and we have some tools that can help us achieves our goals, in the form of browser extensions. These extensions add functionality or, in our case, remove it. This particular extension, Mindful Browsing lets you block websites with a single click and makes you wait a specified amount of time before allowing you to enter again. I’ve found that the wait, even at just a couple minutes, really helps persuade me back to work.

mindful browsing

Now, Mindful Browsing is just available for Safari on the Mac, but I also highly recommend Temporary Site Blocker for Chrome and Site Blocker for Firefox.

Commit

It should go without saying, but I’m going to say it: you need to really commit to cutting out your social activity if you want to succeed. As someone who has done it several times already, I can promise the results will be good and you don’t really miss as much as you think.

Mobile

But what about when you’re away from your computer? We need to take the battle to your phone as well. During the last two weeks of classes, I delete Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and YouTube apps from my phone. I don’t actually lose any data, all my information is in the cloud, and I’m given a freedom you have to experience to understand. My phone changes from a device that occupies each spare moment I have to one that’s a useful communication and scheduling tool.

Do the work

Now that you’ve cut out the big items competing for your time, you can actually get to work. Even though checking Twitter may have only taken up 10 minutes of your time, you essentially start over your mental process when it’s back to whatever you were doing. By giving yourself the opportunity of uninterrupted time blocks to work, you’ll find you’re much more efficient and get much more done.

You can email me with questions at dregerkq@mountunion.edu

Top 10 Random Awesome Things

Top 10 Random Awesome Things

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Watch the video LAST. If you watch it early, it will take away the excitement of knowing why it is #1 on this list.

I’ve decided to make a Top 10. Everyone loves a good Top 10 of anything and if it is awesome, then who wouldn’t want to read it? I’ve recently been excited about a few things lately, things that have or haven’t even happened yet. Basically, just read this list and I hope something on it makes you smile.

10. Back to the Future: Trilogy. Travel back in time with a Delorean? I’ve seen these movies multiple times and I keep finding new things I didn’t realize before. Good job Spielberg. These movies had action, comedy, romance, time travel and even a dog. Back to the Future is awesome.

9. History section of the library. There are very few people in the history section of the library, which means I am able to get my studying, homework and blogs completed. The history section, it’s awesome.

8. Gerard Butler. I realized that I have a man crush on him. He is always the toughest and manliest in movies, and he always wins. He also was the Phantom in the Phantom of the Opera and has an amazing voice. I don’t sing well. It doesn’t matter if I sing well, it only matters if girls think I sing well and it is a lot easier to get girls when you have a voice like Gerard Butler. Gerard Butler, he’s awesome.

7. Christmas sweaters. They are only in fashion for about a month and everyone notices when you wear one. They are usually made with love or in China, but they are always warm and people are usually uber jealous of your sweater. Christmas sweaters, they are awesome.

6. People who read my blog. I like attention just like any other person and when people read my blogs and tell me nice job, it’s a good feeling. I like writing, but I never see my audience or hear their applause. The only way I know is if there is a comment or if someone tells me they read it. Readers are awesome.

5. Women that don’t wear make-up. Most men would agree, we prefer a woman without make up and also dyed hair. I don’t mind girls with make up or dyed hair, I just have simple preferences. Women without make-up are awesome.

4. Letters in the mail. I’ve already made a post about this, but simply getting a letter from a friend in the mail makes my day way better. Friends that send me letters are awesome.

3. Anything free. Free t-shirts, free scholarships (money), free food, free massages, free Play-Doh, free socks and free laundry, etc. Free stuff is awesome and usually comes at no cost to you, which is what makes it free. Free stuff is awesome.

2. Peaches. I just love peaches. They are awesome. The Presidents of the United States of America even made a song about peaches titled “Peaches.” Peaches are awesome.

1. This video. I love dancing and it is fun for everyone, no matter what style. These people are insane. They are awesome.

This list isn’t the most awesome thing in the world, but I hope it brought you into my little world for just a few minutes. I like to change things up once in awhile. Next semester will be interesting since I have only one class on Tuesday and for the first time I start class at 9 a.m. instead of 8 a.m. This is awesome.

Different Way to Think of Studying

Different Way to Think of Studying

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I am not the best with names. If I meet you once and you don’t make a memorable first impression, I won’t remember your name the next time I see you. If you do something out of the ordinary though, I will remember your name. When I see someone every day, I am obviously going to remember this or her name whether I want to or not.

In high school, I never studied and I passed comfortably, but I know I could have done better if I applied myself. College is obviously different when it comes to studying. I have to study more often and not just the night before.

Learning new material is just like learning a person’s name. Sometimes you can remember something if it is so out of the ordinary, but not everything you learn is going to be like that. You have to see the person more than once to get his or her name in your head, and the more you get to know the person, the more you understand them. When you study material for multiple days, the better you will understand it. You can get the basics of it, but won’t fully understand it until you rehearse it multiple times for multiple days.

Repetition, repetition, repetition. That is basically what it comes down to. Finals are coming up, so start slowly getting familiar with those names and by the time finals come, you’ll be best friends with your exam.

The Bane of My Existence

The Bane of My Existence

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As I sit here “multi-tasking,” thinking that I’m taking in real information from my study materials while keeping my eyes on NCIS and slowly scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, I realized I really need a reality check. I guess thus far the reality check isn’t working because logically I realize writing this is just my latest procrastination tactic. However, a little more productive than Facebook or TV, eh?! Anyway, the reality check… I really need to study up on my study skills. I’m standing at the bottom of a very tall mountain of a week: three exams, one quiz and one paper due. For some strange reason, the panic has not set in that the first of these exams happens in just over 12 hours.

So… for all of you out there who also have a bit of difficulty getting started on that paper or starting the long road to preparing for an exam, I’ve decided to compile a few study tips. Now, I’m doing this for myself too, so bear with me if they aren’t the greatest.

1. Turn the TV off. I know, the Law and Order marathon that’s on right now is killer, but chances are you’ll waste at least 25 minutes of every hour staring at the TV. No, turning the volume all the way down does not work… I’ve already tried it!

2. Don’t have music on too loud either. Personally I enjoy classical piano music when I’m studying… that way there’s no lyrics that will distract me.

3. If you don’t need the internet, turn your wifi off/unplug your ethernet cord. Facebook is a daunting thing to avoid.

4. If you do need the internet, try this to “keep you out” of Facebook, Twitter, any website that will distract you: http://keepmeout.com/en/. All you need to do is put in the website you’d like to be kept out of, make a bookmark for the page, and it keeps you out of the website for a designated period of time.

5. Take breaks. Going straight for six hours will make your brain turn to mush. Try smaller chunks with short breaks between each, maybe an hour of studying with 15 to 20 minute breaks between. Take a walk, make some food, watch a funny YouTube video (here’s your time to Facebook creep as well!).

6. Try studying with one or two other people. Maybe you missed some of the notes… chances are someone else will have caught it. Not to mention, actually saying things out loud sometimes engrains them in memory a bit better than just reading them over and over again.

7. Finally, and arguably most important, is that you GET SLEEP! It’s recommended that you get at least six hours the night before an exam. If you study all night and only get an hour of sleep, your brain doesn’t have time to process it. (It’s true… my cognitive psych professor told me!)

Search and destroy

Search and destroy

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One of the hardest parts of keeping on top of your schedule at college is actually knowing what you have to do. Most of us get the work done, but sometimes I find myself wanting to avoid having to see what I need to do for a project. What little motivation I have is further squandered when I have to go out of my way to check on assignments; whether they’re online or the teacher sends them out after class.

The best way I’ve found to keep track of, and actually do the work I’m assigned, is to get into a mindset of actively seeking out my tasks. Once I do that, I take 30 seconds and assess how long a given assignment is going to take me. Suddenly, things get a lot easier. Even though the difficulty of the task may not have changed, at least now I am aware of the time and energy it will take to complete, which allows me to schedule my day around my work more effectively.

Stay away from throwing the task into a long list of to do items. Rather, actually block off time in your day to attack the assignment. Have a half an hour between lunch and class? Start your Introduction to Psychology flashcards. Make an appointment with your tasks and keep to them.

Search for your work.
Assess how long it will take to complete.
Mark it into your schedule.
Do it.

Cram No More With Easy Flashcards From Cramberry

Cram No More With Easy Flashcards From Cramberry

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cramberry

Through the years, low-tech flashcards have remained one of the best ways to help you memorize facts, vocabulary or pretty much any sort of information you need. However, many times the process of creating flashcards can be tedious – writing a hundred front and back cards is exhausting for anyone. If you’ve made flash cards before, you realize that keeping track of many sets is a pain as well. Once a hardcore flashcard user, I’ve tried almost every online flashcard creation site out there. They all have different strengths, but none really gave me the simple, yet robust, flashcard experience I was looking for on both the desktop and my mobile device. And, then I met Cramberry.Cramberry is one of many online flash card creators out there, but it packs some killer features that make studying away from the computer a breeze. As our exams slowly approach, it can be hard to find time to sit down and study with a large pack of paper cards or at our computer. Along with its website, Cramberry also has excellent apps for the iPhone and iPad, with an Android app expected soon.The beauty of Cramberry’s apps lies in its simplicity. When you launch the app, after you sign in, you are immediately presented with your sets. From there, you can jump right in and begin studying in less than two taps. There are two methods you can use to study – Study or Match. Study takes you to a typical flashcard interface, but the emphasis on simple execution is still there. You are shown a single card, tap “Tap to show answer” and then tap whether your answer was correct or incorrect. If you get a card incorrect, the app will shuffle that particular card back into the pile and show it several more times before you can finish. The other studying style, Match, is both unique and effective. In this mode, you are presented with eight small, movable cards (the fronts and backs of four cards) that you have to drag on top of their counterparts. When you find a match, the cards disappear as a confirmation that it was correct. I find this method of studying particularly enjoyable and found it helps me learn from both sides of the card instead of one.Cramberry’s website is no slouch either. This is where you will be doing most of the creation and organizing of your sets, although you also have the option to study right from your browser. You only get the Study option while in the browser, but Cramberry gives you easy keyboard shortcuts to move through the cards so your hands never have to leave the keyboard. You also have the option to type your answers. If you type in the exact text on the other side of the card, Cramberry will mark it as correct and advance you to the next one. However, if you miss a letter or two, it will show you the answer and ask “Were you right?” and let you mark your answer.I’ve been using Cramberry for three years now and love it. Being able to create cards in the browser and then have them available to study at any time has been amazing. Studying flashcards with a mobile device also has the benefit of being able to operate in the dark. This means I can lie in bed at night and study without having to worry about the desk lamp waking my roommate.The app cost USD 2.99 on the App Store, but they also have a free version which is ad-supported. If you’re not sure yet, I encourage you to try the free version and see how you like it. Everybody has different tastes when it comes to memorization, but Cramberry can definitely give you an experience you won’t forget.Happy studying!