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My Recent Experience With Working Harder, Not Smarter

At the start of the year, I made a set of academic goals that I wanted to achieve next year. I composed them primarily by looking at what I wanted to do better than last year. One of my goals was to start and finish work and studying earlier than required. I thought it would stress me out less, increase my marks, and give me more flexiblity if I need to go out the night before a major test, etc.

After two weeks of trying to implement this habit, I realized that it wasn’t working out as I had expected. What I had previously thought would make me less stressed, more flexible, and bring higher marks was doing the exact opposite. I felt more stressed, and less flexible for only not much more reward. How could this happen?

Cal Newport posted a comment on my article about 4 Reasons Why People’s Study Systems Fail, saying that he believes a major reason is that people add more work, instead of studying smarter and reducing work. It occured to me as I read his comment that that was exactly what I had been doing for the previous weeks! After all I have talked about studying smarter and saving time, I easily fell into one of these traps. Luckily I realized this, and I am able to re-focus my goals.


Moral of this story? First, feedback from other people is a wonderful thing. Second, you never know how well you are doing something until you try doing it the other way.

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One Response to “My Recent Experience With Working Harder, Not Smarter”

  1. Cal says:

    One of the students I interviewed for my last book told me that the way she improved her grades was to wait until she was actually on her way to the library, and then ask: “what could I do to get out of her faster?”

    At that moment, with the grim specter of work hanging overhead, she was at her most motivated to fix bad habits, because she really wanted to be done as soon as possible.

    Once, of course, better habits were discovered, it was impossible to go back. She ended up doing quite well for herself.

  2. [...] is explained well in detail at Gearfire Student Productivity. So I’ll shut up with this and let you check that link out [...]