Tag Archives: lifehacks

January 13, 2010, 7:30 am

Daily routines

John Cook shared this interesting article on Twitter the other day. It lists 25 great thinkers and their daily rituals. This got me thinking about my daily routine, the little rituals that I observe, and how the rhythms of a routine help me find balance, stability, and productivity in my life and work. I’ve seen the value of a routine through my kids (ages 6, 4, and 1), who early on needed routines to help them learn day from night and know when to eat and nap, and who still need to stick to a routine or else become incorrigible.

While having three kids this young makes routines and rituals more a matter of probability than anything and routines hard to follow, there are a few rituals I like to keep around no matter what happens:

  • I get up at 5:00, and from 5:30-6:15 I do Matins from the Treasury of Daily Prayer, eat breakfast, and get all the stuff the kids need for school that day as…

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September 22, 2008, 6:32 am

Monday GTD moment: Handling grading in GTD

This is the second installment of Monday GTD Moment, where I take a post to blog about Getting Things Done and how it applies in an academic setting. Here’s the first post. If you’re unfamiliar with GTD, here’s a good overview, and make sure to read David Allen’s book that started it all.

It’s week 5 of the semester for us, which is crunch time for students — and professors. This is the time of the semester when everybody has tests and papers all due, usually on the same day, which means there’s lots of grading. I don’t like grading, but it has to be done. And if I treat grading lightly or let it pile up, I will make mistakes when I grade and students won’t get the feedback they need to improve in a timely way. As an academic type, grading is one of the most important, difficult, and time-consuming features of my job and therefore requires careful management. But it doesn’t fit…

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January 1, 2008, 9:03 am

Beating bad study habits in 2008

Happy New Year to all of you out there. For those of you about to start back to school (I don’t until February thanks to our January Term), Study Hacks has five bad study habits to swear off in 2008. Here’s a clip from the first one, which is “Studying Without a Plan”:

Do you still use “study” as a specific verb? For example, as in: “I’m going to go study, see you in 12 hours.” If so, you’re in trouble. “Study” is ambiguous. No one can “study.” What they can do is specific review activities, such as “convert first month of lecture notes into question/evidence/conclusion format,” or “quiz and recall study guides 1 to 3.”

I can’t recall the number of times a student has come to the office, having done poorly on a test or other assessment, and plaintively says “…but I STUDIED!” To which I reply, “OK, so tell me what you did.” And there’s often a stunned silence -…

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December 10, 2007, 8:58 am

How to take a final exam (part 2)

74907741_c2d59deb64_m.jpgThis is the second and final (pardon the pun) article in a brief series about how to prepare for and take final exams. Here, I presented some strategies for getting ready for the final exam. And here, we saw some strategies for the time leading up to the final exam and into the first five minutes of the exam.

The first moments of a final exam are like the Big Bang — there’s lots that happens in those first few moments, and then for the remainder of the time things proceed at what we hope to be an orderly, even pace. Let’s talk now about those 115-or-so minutes that remain in the exam after the “big bang” of the first few minutes.

First: Watch the clock and stick to your time budget. I’ve mentioned how important it is to set up a quick time budget at the beginning of the exam, for example by dividing the number of minutes you have in the exam period by the point value of the exam and…

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December 7, 2007, 11:31 am

How to take a final exam (part 1)

scream.jpgOn Wednesday I posted about how to prepare for final exams. It seems only fitting that I should talk about what happens after the preparation is over. So visualize yourself as having done all that preparation, gotten a good night’s sleep and a good breakfast (and had some chocolate, as some of the commenters suggested). Now it’s time to go get it done.

I’ve been teaching professionally for ten years and spent four years in college and five years in graduate school prior to that, and I like to think that I’ve basically seen it all when it comes to exams. Here’s some advice I’ve gleaned from my experiences on how to actually take exams effectively. I’m gearing my remarks primarily towards finals in mathematics, since that’s what I’m most familiar with. But I think these also transfer reasonably well to other disciplines.

And in this article, I’ll focus on the final exam up through the…

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December 5, 2007, 12:21 pm

How to prepare for final exams

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Update 2: There’s a sequel to this article on How to Take a Final Exam.  

Update: Welcome, RateYourStudents readers! If you like this article, be sure to check out my Top 12 Posts list for a further sample.

Posting has been light around here because it’sthe last week of classes, and the run-up to final exams has begun in earnest. This morning I talked with my precalculus class — all freshmen, many of them first-generation college students, about to experience their first real college final exam — about getting ready for our final, which is coming up Monday morning at 8:00 AM. There was the usual discussion of topics, suggestions for review exercises, and so on. But I also included a discussion of the aspects of preparing for a final exam that don’t have to do with the class itself.

I think this aspect of preparing for finals is crucially important and rarely treated with the…

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