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lainchan archive - /sci/ - 270

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How do you study, Lainons? Do you use fancy memory techniques? Do you have small rituals that you perform before or after? What do you do during the break? How do you approach topics that you are really unfamiliar with? I want to know everything!


I *always* go to any instruction, and I always follow along and take notes in my notebook. If I miss a day, I still write notes from their lecture notes. Writing stuff down with pen and paper is, for me, the best way to absorb it.

For studying(i.e. before a test), I go back through those notes, and I try to either use sample questions given to me or think up my own. Sometimes I'll rewrite my notes.

To get into subjects I know nothing about, I'll read a textbook casually, and visit communities that are into that subject. Currently trying to get more regular in my textbook-reading.


>What works(for me)

Take notes during class, NEVER bother to rewrite them just re-read them when you're flaky on a concept and learn how to find the answers in books.

Whatever I read I try and tie those concepts directly into either lab work or the physical world.

Probably the best way to learn/study is to help someone out and explain it to them. It will be readily apparent when you don't know the concepts well and its also a way to review on the side. bonus: you can net friend

>What doesn't

highlighting is shit. most useless thing ever.

cramming, although if you're fired up on a subject you can down dozens of pages at a time.

>what i've never tried

flash cards. i always considered it rewriting my notes tier which is gayyy

making up tests for myself. i think it's a waste of time when you can be solidifying concepts another way


I'm a big advocate of spaced repetition, and using the pomodoro technique. There's a really great free course on Coursera called "Learning How to Learn" and it's been instrumental in me learning how to study better.


If I face some really unfamiliar topic, I begin studying backward. That is, I try to solve exercises first to get the hang of what should I focus when reading.

If it's CS or EE stuff I try to achieve the topic with the knowledge I already have and follow through the instructions, forcing myself to experience inevitable aha moment and motivation behind topic's introduction.


How strict to it are you?
How long have you been doing it for?

Also; here is a pomodoro program for like all platforms:


I never take notes with laptop during lecture. Pen and paper is enough. This has worked well. With laptop, you are constrained by the keyboard and mouse and you really don't have time to draw anything.


Good stuff. I remember watching some of these lectures. This might also be the place where they tell you to take notes with pen and paper rather than a keyboard, but I'm not entirely sure.


Making flashcards might sound lame but you are supposed to actually use them to quiz yourself. That's a form of active recall and is very effective.

How do you schedule your spaced repetitions?


What you could do is play instrumental music, on low volume in the background, that helped me a bit ( usually listen to bethoveen or vivaldi, it's preety chilling ).
Also you should try taking some lecithin. :)


When studying for an exam I do whatever is humanly possible for me to find the questions from old exams, or any clues I can find as to what might be on the exam. Luckily some teachers give downloadable mock exams or publish their question database.

If all of that fails, all teachers are required to publish their presentations, so I learn from those.

But what is more interesting about my learning system is my time management system. It is basically a very detailed timeboxing system that I have described in this txt file for my friend:

Anyways, this is just an old version of my system. Because the system is modular, I upgrade it a lot. I would say the biggest upgrade is that since in such a small timebox I was unable to do larger stuff or experimentation, I upgraded it by creating a special 2 hour timebox for experimentation and any large tasks(that can't or shouldn't be separated into smaller ones) between 19:00 and 21:00 each day.

Ask me anything about either my time management or learning systems.


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>How do you study, Lainons?
I start my day doing some calligraphy excercises, then I study whatever I like. I write every single note using cursive handwriting; this help me think about what I'm studying; and finally I throw them out, because if I really understood what I was studying, then I consider myself to be capable of understand it any other time, and, if not, studying the same topic again must be easier than before and more illustrative (it actually is).

>Do you use fancy memory techniques?

No. Rote learning is what I use.

>Do you have small rituals that you perform before or after?

In case of some repetitive tasks like chinese character memorizing, I clock myself. It's like a race: I feel good about myself when I notice I could finish a full notebook sheet in less time than a day before, and this forces myself to focus on it. This week I've learned 30 characters.

>What do you do during the break?

Listening to kpop.

>How do you approach topics that you are really unfamiliar with?

I try to find definitions, but that's really hard when studying topics like philosophy and linguistics.



I have an excel spreadsheet with each of the topics listed, and what's required for the exam. I then colour code these (0-25, 25-75, 75-100) so I can keep track of how I far I am.

When an exam is coming up, I create a new sheet for every topic, and I then have a colour for
a) Going over the topic and understanding it

b) Doing questions or past papers

>How I study:

This varies for my subjects.
For chemistry, I go over my notes and then briefly rewrite the key points elsewhere without looking back at my notes, and try to re-teach myself. Another method that works is teaching someone else.

For mathematics, I just do rote practice.

During my sessions I try to avoid using any electronics, but if I do so (either for music or more information if my notes/textbook is inadequate).
I usually listen to ambient music or peaceful video game soundtracks (e.g. Skyrim or The Witcher 3 ambient)

>During my breaks:

I either meditate, read a book or play an instrument.
When possible I get away from my desk and go elsewhere, in order to clear my mind from all work and to just relax.

>Approaching unfamiliar topics:

I usually read over the textbook. If it doesn't click in my mind, I'll try to rewrite it in my own words, or to derive the information so I can understand it in relation to what I already know.
Diagrams, brainstorming and lists help a lot.

If that doesn't work, I'll go on YouTube and look up a video explaining the topic.


I've been trying to get into meditation but don't know where to start.
Got any resources?


I take a lot of notes. But I never look at them. Its just that the process of writing helps me understanding a lot.


The only decent app I've found is called 'Headspace' (on iOS. Not sure if it's on android)
Otherwise, you can just look up 'mindfulness' tutorials on youtube. It is more on focus rather than spirituality.

But basically, while meditating you have to stay still and focus on a certain thing. Typically your own breathing. The whole purpose is to clear your mind of everything else, so you only have one thing that you're thinking about. Having this 'clear mind' will help you to focus more in general, and can calm you down.


Not him but... When I was still on rpm based distros, they had this gem in their repos:


This worked for me for a long time:

Sit down in a comfortable position and if you can in the same spot daily. Close your eyes and observe your mind.
It probably is full of noise. Don't try to shut the noise up, just observe it. Acknowledge the thoughts that spring forth, but don't feed them, don't follow, don't respond, just observe and acknowledge.
As time goes on, if you don't get lost in thought, you will begin to see that these thoughts start becoming sparser.
That's it for this technique. It is quite powerful if you are constant in your practice. Focus on your own progress, not on an end goal.
At the beginning you can start with 10 minutes daily. Then as you feel like you can handle more, extend that time some odd days.

A teacher can help you, but you help yourself as well.

If you need more info I can drop some more of my experience here.


speaking from personal experience, get some isolated/noise canceling in-ear headphones, learn some sclang, maek drone loops/paulstretch'd {j,k}pop, or you could purchase some good quality ear plugs/find yourself a quiet environment where you won't get easily disturbed.


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>How do you study, Lainons?
That's a though question, it depends on the material. While doing CS50 (a harvard course) i could study up to 10 or even more hours in a day, the content was easy without being boring.

Now i'm doing SICP (course and book) and it's much harder, i just can't keep attention for so long, so i do 1 subchapter, 1 class and read the class notes each day, i try to do the exercises too but it's not always achiavable.
That takes about 4 hours, the rest of the day i either do nothing and just procrastinate, or i follow another course along like algorithms.

So the answer is it depends, sometimes it's easier to follow a resource blindly, and my interest is really important too, if i have to force myself to study (as i had in college for example) the methods for studying will change. I hated going to class, but it was easy enough that i barely had to study outside of basic obligations, so i can't say much about difficult college experiences, mine wasn't difficult.
>Do you use fancy memory techniques?
Never worked for me, i'm lucky because i study computer science, i rarely have to use any memory techniques for anything, syntax comes naturally.
>Do you have small rituals that you perform before or after?
I meditate sometimes, i usually stay in bed a few minutes before studying, and try to empty my mind of clutter. I try not to open anything like lainchan during studies but it's not always possible, specially if i'm not particularly interested in the subject/chapter.
>What do you do during the break?
Depends, i try to do something related to the main subject i'm studying, for example, right now i'm reading SICP, during a break i'll try to watch a defcon conference or something equivalent. Project euler exercises are fun too, the important thing is not to do something completely unrelated to what i'm studying, i can't watch porn or play games for example, that'd make it very difficult to get into a studying mindset again.
>How do you approach topics that you are really unfamiliar with?
Lots of sources, videos, blogs, etc.. I try to get a feeling for the thing until i grok it, otherwise it's very hard to actually learn anything that isn't mechanical.
This is specially true with books, you can find dozens of books for the same subject, it's important to get different authors when you cant get something quite right. Seeing things from a different point of view helps me understand it better, it's as if each point of view cleared my vision a little more, sometimes one POV is enough, often it isn't.


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Since I left university long ago, I mostly learn through books. Lectures and podcasts are just too slow for me.

After fixing my handwriting to such a degree that I was able to comfortably read it, I started taking notes by hand instead of on the PC. Much better recalling.
I usually try to extract and rephrase (very important) the main points of a page/chapter/paper. I usually condense about 2-5 pages of book into 1 thinly covered note page.
Pic related its my notes I did when I worked through the ebook "distributed systems" that someone posted on vola.

Right now I am brushing up my Common Lisp skills for a job that coming up, so far I have condensed about 3 books into 80 pages of notes. Currently I am in the middle of "Practical common lisp".

After trying different color schemes for years, I settled on a 3 color scheme:
- Erasable blue (got a Pilot FriXion for that, they are great but guzzle lots of ink) for the text and sub-sub headings
- Black for main Headings such as chapters, underlines for sub-sub headings and code
- Red to underline the most important points of my notes and possible traps or capital key points (since my notes are already the condensation of books, just looking at the red underlined stuff, I can recall a chapter in only a few minutes)

If I have questions "to" the book, I write them down in my notes, and later the answer when I find it. (this is derived from the SQ3R technique)

When Im not doing that, I work as a private tutor for IB, MYP, Baccalaureate (french) and Matura (swiss). For my students I recommend:
- Cornell note taking system for in-lesson notes and questions they dont dare to ask to the teacher
- SQ3R method for book studying, or any of the SQ3R derived methods
- Feynman method to really understand complex interconnections
- Flashcard for all rote-memorization. This means language vocabulary of course, but also simple formulas, math and science vocabulary and short definitions. Spaced repetition is best: one 1-4 hours, another the next day and finally one after a week (optionally: one after a month) each time you forget the card, it goes back to "start" meaning you start again with 1-4 hours, then the next day...

And of course: Old exams, and tons of problem sets for anything that involves calculations.
IB is very nice here, since its standardized there are quite a few torrents with old exams out there.

When I "study" in preparation for a lesson, my notes are of course a lot shorter than when I study the subject for the first time. Most of the time I make my notes with regards to the anticipated difficulties of my student.
There are stuff where almost everyone struggles the first time, so over the years I have built up a whole arsenal of analogies and word pictures for them to understand better.
My notes often resemble a todo list more than actual notes, that way I do not accidentally skip important stuff.


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>Right now I am brushing up my Common Lisp skills for a job that coming up, so far I have condensed about 3 books into 80 pages of notes.


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For uni physics here's my lackluster method:

Take half ass notes during class, NEVER re-read them, they should just be a second run-through of the material since you already glanced at it before class (and will have hours of problems to do on them anyway).

GO thru old hw again and pick out tricky questions from the books, seek out other lectures and books for more problems or different perspectives (chem lectures are super rewarding for quantum/thermo sometimes).

For philosophy and social works I take notes once but again never re-read them, just need something to slow me down enough to ask questions.

And for programming, JUST fuarrrkING CODE SOMETHING, if you're messing with internals or RE open a debugger, by far the most hands on discipline in that reading books, taking notes and traditional studying will do very little.

I'm by no means a great student, but the above works for me.


whats so unbelievable about it?


That's awesome! Two questions: how do you say on a resume that you've self-taught in a meabinful way and 2) how do you stay disciplined enough to follow a reasonable study program on your own?

Do you think this would work for non-cs disciplines as well?


I would only mention the self-taught part if you are being asked about it.
For me, I liks the time I was at university and what subject I was studying there. But this is only 2-3 lines. Most space in my CV is taken up by the description of what I did during my different jobs during and after university.
If you have a position where it reads "Implemented secure software using contract based programming in Ada 2012 for a corporation in the finance sector during Date1 - Date2" or something like that, people will assume that you are indeed proeficient in Ada programming as well as contract based software, and that you have experience in the finance industry. They wont give a damn where and how you got those skills. If they do then take that as a hint that you should definitely not work at that place since they seem to be obsessed by certificates instead of by what people actually know. Lets be honest here: attending a university class, even at the MIT, on algorithms makes you much less of an expert as someone who had to use algorithms to solve a tricky problem in the real world.
(just as an example)

2. There are two ways. In general the trick is not to wait until inspiration strikes or that you feel motivated before doing it. You just do it ad maybe motivation will come. Routine helps.
First: small blocks of high intensity learning. 45-90 minutes max. to one block in the morning, one in the afternoon, and absolutely nothing else. Your mind needs rest. Trying to do 8 hours of straight studying a day is completely pointless. Either you wont remember much or you wont maintain maximum intensity for very long. Also you will subconciously assosciate studying with pain and discomfort. This kills the motivation.
Second: Low intensity studying thrououth the day. This is mostly what I do right now: I sit in the library from 8am to 10pm. I study a little, play a little, surf a little. Not as efficient as the high intensity method but as long as your surfing/gaming lasts only a few minutes at a time, better than nothing. It helps that I am on my tablet and only have casual games on it.
This approach is ideal for really difficult material, it does not put you under time pressure. If you read only one sentence per minute, thats ok, after all you are here all day.

>for non-cs disciplines

Depends. Self-taught neurosurgery: no
Consulting is big for autodidacts, some of the more exotic finance professions too. Pentester/Hacker also (but thats CS in the widest sense of the world), tutoring of course also (just know your curriculum and its pitfalls) as long as the grades of your studets improve many parents wont care where you went to university and what exactly you studied there.


Do you think this would work for non-cs disciplines as well?
Most jobs/careers require you to have a specific degree.


I just cheat as much as possible. I studied test answers minutes before quizzes.


how to not learn anything


Pretty much this >>482
You probably dont realize it (yet) but learning for tests is the easy part since all questions and their answers are clearly defined and have right/wrong distinction.
The real world is much more complicated. You are not doing yourself any favor by opting not to learn anything. You will break your neck with that attitude, either in grad school or during your real job.


You really are just shooting yourself in the foot. Maybe that won't hurt you on gen-ed stuff but if you do this your math education is worthless. You're useful in the field because you can figure out novel problems, not because you can answer test questions a tired professor came up with.


I do most of my learning during winter/summer holidays. During uni terms I'm exam focused and putting autistic detail into reports and projects. Get good grades but feel like I've forgotten everything till I get a top up of doing useful stuff on my own.


I read the chapters assigned. Then, and this is important, I think about what I read.


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Surprised nobody here has mentioned sense-immersive studying. I've found immense success with it, and I've saved more than a few people's asses with it.


What you need for each subject:
1 bottle of knockoff cologne/perfume
1 package of sugarfree gum
1 computer
1 phone w/usb cable
1 Set of notes



Pick a scent + taste combination for each test. Each session ideally takes one day. If you're panicking right now, simply do Round I for each one, eating a snack and washing up a bit in between, you can probably fit 3 of them in in an 8 hour period.


Round I:


1) Spray the cologne on, and start eating a candy.

2) Record yourself reading your notes.

3) Take a break.

Round II:

1) Add a spritz of cologne and get another candy.

2) Listen to your notes and take notes on them by hand.

3) Take a break.


Round III:

1) Spritz + candy.

2) Listen to your notes and read along.

3) Stop.


At this point, you're finished with the hard part. Copy the recording of your notes to your phone, set your alarm, put the cologne and candy in your bag, and go to bed.

When you walk into the class, spritz yourself on the wrist with a bit of cologne, rub your wrists together, and then rub them behind your ears. When you get your test, put a hard candy in your mouth, and take the test.

YMMV, but the general "feeling" you get is that you're remembering a lot more than usual, and the answers just kind of flow, rather than you having to go look them up.


Fie- voodoo, y duz et work m95?

The senses are intimately engaged in the human memory process, which is a reason why immersion is so effective in learning a language. We all have experienced brief flashbacks triggered by sights, sounds, and other sensations. By selectively immersing yourself in a given topic, you embed sensory links to the pathways involved in studying. The kicker is that because you are controlling the input to the taste and scent subsystems (which are the most powerful), you've basically got a direct pointer to the associated sense memory that you can invoke on demand by simply spraying on some cologne and eating some candy.


Bonus: Cyberzen Mode

Again, YMMV, but this seems to be extremely effective, especially when you're studying for multiple subjects and only have time to do 1 or 2 rounds with them.

Instead of going straight to bed when you're finished, copy your recording of yourself to your phone, pop your headphones in, and start listening to the recording. Set things up so that your laptop is playing relaxing music (80s-90s new-age is great, like Enya, Davol, Yanni, etc.) loud enough that you can barely hear it over the sound of your own voice coming over the headphones.

At this point, feel free to create some further ambiance (incense, candles, scented oils, fireplace, etc.). The key is that you want to be /comfy/. Once you've brushed your teeth and all that, and you're ready for bed:

1) Get into a comfortable sitting position.

2) Pay attention to your breathing/the sounds around you/your own voice/etc. Let your mind wander. If you itch or whatever, just scratch- be comfy.

3) When you feel like it lay down in the position of pic related.

4) Take 3 deep breaths.

5) On the 3rd breath, breathe out very very hard.

6) Sink into the bed- don't worry about falling asleep, just be.

7) Get up, feel refreshed and a little weird, go to the test.

8) Spritz + candy, take test.



This sounds like it might actually work... too bad the semester's over and I'll have to wait a month to try it out. On the other hand, it would be cool to have a similar method for inducing particular mindsets, e.g. I write a lot but usually it takes me an hour or two to start experiencing "flow", the state of mind where you are working constantly and are either feeling really productive and good about it or you're just so zoned in that your personal feelings about work don't even register.

The only thing I can think of though is applying particular scents and tastes when you're in the desired mindset, and simply doing it often enough to the point where applying the scents and tastes have conditioned you to automatically achieve that mindset. Maybe it would work, maybe not, but it seems really inefficient.


I dont study, drink a lot and get very average grades.


>How do you study, Lainons?
Very carefully.
>Do you use fancy memory techniques?
No, I am blessed with a very good memory. If needed, though, I will use flashcards.
>Do you have small rituals that you perform before or after?
I drink some water. It is imperative to stay well-hydrated, so I always make sure to drink water before I start my studying.
What do you do during the break?
Well, during this break I am going to read and study a few hours each day for my classes next semester, so that I will be able to sleep next semester.
>How do you approach topics that you are really unfamiliar with?
Prayer + DuckDuckGo. Nah, for real though, I read a book about it. For example, I am taking Calculus I next semester, and the highest maths I have taken is algebra II. What am I doing? Well, there is a "review of precalculus" chapter in the beginning of the book for the class, so I am going through that, as well as making flash cards for all of the algebra/geometry/trigonometry equations that the book says are fundamental.

In general, though, at uni my studying goes in a very specific manner. I go through the same material several times, I will remember it.

1. Lecture
2. Book
3. Homework
4. Review

I sit in lecture and take notes of everything. I usually do not come back to these notes, though I sometimes do; the notes are for getting the information into my memory to begin with. Then I read the book/given reading for what was just covered. I do not take notes; I read the specified chapter once. If the book I am reading has a summary at the end of the chapter (science textbooks are great for this), I read the introduction to the chapter, and then the summary, and then the chapter. Later I do the homework that is required. While doing the homework, I try to do as much of it as I can without referring to anything, but if needed, I will refer to the book and reread a section of the chapter.

Before exams, I glance at the summaries in textbooks, powerpoints (if provided by professor), and sometimes the notes. If I need to memorize anything, I may try to write it down to learn it, the first time from the book, and then from memory after that; if needed, I may use index cards to memorize something (such as specific generalized reactions in organic chemistry). If I need to know how to draw a diagram, I do the same thing. I look at the diagram in the book while I'm drawing it myself, then draw it again while trying to not look at the book for a part of it unless I have to, and then I draw it from memory until I can do it well, and quickly (my exams are fairly rushed).

This all works fairly well for me, I get all As. Not enough time for homework? Sleep a bit less. It's a terrible thing, and I loathe doing it, but I must to be able to get enough time for studying (mainly because my time management is the absolute worst).


>when I worked through the ebook "distributed systems" that someone posted on vola
Was it the "Concepts and Design" one by Coulouris et. al? If not, would you mind re-uploading it?


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I'm not sure about "flow," but here's a paper that suggests that associating a scent with a problem and then exposing yourself to that scent during sleep helps with creativity regarding your problem.


Here is something that might sounds dumb but that bugs me nonetheless:

Do you use only one textbook or several for every courses/books you study?

Let say I'll focus on studying maths, the SICP book, and another course on computer science or something language specific about data structure and software architecture. I currently have in mind to keep only one textbook and specify in a heading the name of the course each time I switch, but it might be inefficient. I'm used to split everything in a .txt file but real life note taking confuses me


Lol, the literary equivalent of bloated code.


Whatever mnemonics or nootropics end up working for you, I think the most important thing is to get plenty of sleep, because REM sleep is when your brain shuffles the day's memories into long and short term memory. Sleep is the first thing that suffers when you crunch and cram, so start early and organise your time.


I use method of loci with a representation items for numbers 0-9
Its slow but it burns a hole in your brain that you cant forget.


You must have a lot of friends with that attitude


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Do you mean notebooks? I usually have one for each course and an additional one in which I do all the practice exercises.

I use these single-wire bound notebooks that you can take apart at the end of the semester, merge the used parts and rebuild new notebooks from the unused pages.


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Yeah sorry, NOTEbook, not textbook. I like the idea of separating the exercises from the actual notes in another notebook. I did try to do it with a ┬źnote to the left, exercises to the right┬╗ layout, but it wasn't very efficient

When I was in college and being a soykafty student who discovered some of the courses night before the big day, not fuarrrking up my sleep outside of the times I had to rush a presentation was still a priority and saved me at least some useless stress. Reading notes before bed is useful only if it has already be done one or more time during the day. Otherwise it's just needless noise.

I still graduated from an archaeology degree and first year master degree, so I wasn't that bad, or maybe lucky. For this field of study, a couple of thing helped me :

Cramming is inefficient most of the time, needless to say. It's bad time management to begin with, and time is running way, way more quickly when you have less than 24h to learn a whole course on a niche subject full of case studies.

The shorter the better. Starting from a name or a keyword makes it way easier to retain informations than dumbly reading big chunk of notes, formatted or not. By simply putting name and keywords as a (sorted or not) list, everything related is flowing from it once memorised and the actual notes skimmed a few time: Date, place, context, what make this fact important.

External sources are important for several reasons : Confirm unclear informations, additional case studies. Teachers love case studies. Sometime the lectures are based off one or two books, and it's good to spot early which ones are using recent case studies and exclusive research data and which ones could be studied in books, just to know where and when not to fuarrrk up a be clueless at the end of the semester if lacking notes and informations you couldn't even find in a specialised academic library.

Trying to elaborate the plan of a dissertation or essay from the notes is a good exercise to spot where you're on point and where you lack knowledge and regret playing nethack or going for a stroll in the park instead of listening to the lecture. This is generally where additional note from external sources come in handy. This is the best time to work with friends that can have a different understanding on complex problematic and some more example to use during exams. Even alone it's a good way to twist your brain into the right frame and give structure and perspectives to your knowledge. it's a long process though, and formulating potential exam question to work on them might be shorter if time is a concern.

Pictures are also very useful when you deal with buildings, objects, geographical areas, characters and works of art. Binding a word to a picture make it easier to recall what it is.

None of this worked for Prehistory tho.


Um... I read the book...

Also my friends transcribe what professors say and I read that


I have been looking for that book on my tablet for the past weeks, after all it was there that I had it to take notes. Unfortunately I cannot find it anymore, sorry.
All I know is that it was not "... algorithms and concepts"


I'm in my third year of my PhD, and I just figured out how to study last year. This is what works for me.
Cal Newport, wrote a really bad book (in my opinion) on Deep Work. The only parts that matter I can sum up as: Schedule hours for Deep Work; Don't let shallow work infect the hours you schedule for deep work; train your brain by meditating on cognitively demanding ideas while you are in situations that don't allow you to work (riding the bus, walking to work, pooping).

Deep work is defined as extremely cognitively demanding work, creative work, mentally taxing work. For me this is mostly reading, writing, coding. In that order. This type of work is done free of distraction, and in timed intervals.

Shallow work is the opposite, think necessary evils. A lot of people on Lain watch video programming tutorials, this is that. For me shallow work is writing emails, planning my lessons to teach, general schedule planning, meetings. Things that require me present, but don't tax my cognitive ability.

The idea of meditating isn't supposed to be the thing people do to try and get sleep or relax. Instead, it's just taking advantage of the time you can't work, and not sitting on your phone refreshing lainchan. It takes me 30 minutes to walk to my office, 18 minutes to go from the office to the gym, and 35 minutes from my gym to the house. That's a lot of time spent walking. If I use that to unpack ideas I may be stuck on, things like algorithms, or rhetorical arguments in my writing, that time inst' wasted. In fact I find that it gives me a lot of clarity when I sit down to work again.

So the big idea behind this and how it works for me is that you have to train it. You have to train the ability to work uninterrupted for long periods of time. I put my phone and turn off my E-mail or internet if I am reading something important, or writing something. Therefore I can really focus and dive into my own head and explore some of these topics in depth. I may sit down with three articles and give myself an hour and a pen, and just go to town. If I get bored, there isn't anything else to do!

I had to train myself, because at first I spent a lot of time distracted. So at first I started with 30 minutes of deep work, it was grueling. Now I do 4 2 hour sprints, in a week, on Friday I do one 90 minute sprint, in the morning. I wrote a small program that timed how long I spent on certain tasks, and noted if I was tabbing through programs or irc or something. I found out that in a week, I was spending 8+ hours writing emails, or at least tabbing through reading them, writing drafts and then going back to something like coding. I was spending an average of 5 hours watching Anime on Youtube, and 10+ hours tweaking my bash config, or my WM, or writing Emacs scripts. Now, I spend about 2 hours a week on Email, and answer them all at the end of the week. I spend Saturdays and Sundays, on my own hobby projects, and ricing my os.

Hope this helps some lains.


Thank you for summarizing Deep work technique, it sounds helpful.
What I find difficult is to keep focus. As most users, I tend to multitask, which sprays my attention in thin layer, e.g. here is irc convo, here is a book I meant to read, here is a browser with some spreadsheets open, here is a movie, etc. Even when while not at the PC, my thoughts tend to jump over from idea to idea.


Yeah exactly what you are trying to address if you subscribe to a 'deep work' style. While it is possible to multi-task and be productive, I am sure; anecdotally I find multitasking helps people feel more productive, but doesn't actually make them productive. You have to train your ability to think/work on one thing! When I started I had the same routine: Here is thing Im working on, irc convo, change music, slack convo, check phone for text, edit config file, oh yeah I'm working on something.

I started by doing 30 minute intervals, and forcing myself to work through it. It was hard, but now I am able to think about one thing for a predetermined amount of time, and reward myself with leisure.

In the book, Cal talks and cites some research about how adults think about taking breaks from leisure FOR work. If you restructure that to taking breaks from thing for Leisuire, it becomes a more productive setting.
The other overarching theme was that we as humans are too connected, and while I agree with that--I think I am maybe 8 or 10 years older then the generation he is talking about, so social media didn't come out until I was 30 and I am not really attracted to it.

If you feel like reading the book, check it out from the library, don't buy it. It suffers from what I call "self-help brevity", where self-help books arrange the sentences to feel concise and informative, but you still have to read 300 pages to learn what could have been said in 50.


That's nice.
Do you have some tips to training the "Deep Work" stage?

I don't get the Shallow work.


Sure! So if you want to stop the meme, let's just call "deep work" deep focus. You can train deep focus by not multi tasking and focusing on a cognitively demanding task for X amount of time.

Let's say you code.
Give yourself 30 minutes, without multitasking or disruption, to really sit down and code what you need a predefined thing. Let's say you are building a headless browser in Lisp, and you first need to figure out how to get lisp to let you access the web. You may read about it for a few minutes, but then as soon as you are ready you sit down and code. If you get stuck, say at minute 10, you sit there you think, you try and you figure it out. Once you can consistently do 30 minutes of focused cognitively demanding tasks, then switch to 40 minutes. Whatever you were stuck on, you can address after your time period is up. I spent about a year to get from 30 minutes to 2 hours.
You can apply this to studying a new concept, solving math problems, etc.

Shallow work may vary depending on what stage you are in your life. If you are a young college student, shallow work are things that seem dumb, but you still need to do. Things like meeting up for a group project, designing a power point, writing a blog post for class, reviewing grammar on a paper you typed.
If you are in the working stage of your job, this can be things like writing E-mails, attending meetings, writing down end of the day reports, billing hours.
For me shallow work is planning lessons, doing meetings, and writing Emails.

Shallow work doesn't require you to think deeply, like say a proof for math or computer science. Or writing a book report if computers aren't your thing.

Deep work, or deep focus, is just a way to manage your time so that all your cognitively demanding tasks are done in uninterrupted chunks. The interruptions can be from distractions, like watching an anime, or answering a text message, but for some people those interruptions are chummy coworkers, or "urgent" e-mails.

Try not to overcomplicate it at first or it makes it a bit harder to approach. Just think, do the hardest stuff with no distraction, do the dumb menial stuff after the hard stuff.


That's pretty insightful, thanks


How do I stay focused?

If I'm not engaged in something (Reading off notes for a test is not engaging) I feel like I'm in agony, more brainpower is going to forcing myself to keep reading than properly absorbing it, most of the rest is paying attention to the clock, waiting for the time I said I'd allocate for a break, and when I do take a break, tearing myself from whatever I'm doing to get back to studying brings most of the mental fatigue I was trying to dump back.

When I have a midterm or something, I try and get 4-5 hours of studying in a day, but hardly any of it sticks.

I've posted about this in /feels/, but I've often had profs tell me that the understanding I demonstrate during class/1 on 1 discussion of the course material is much better than what my test performance would suggest, and I have no idea how to fix it.


I've always had trouble with cramming for exams too. I've found that it's pointless for me to study for extended periods of time; instead I try to understand the material as it is aborded in class.
It might not be as much a focusing problem as it is a learning methodology issue. You should probably try learnning another way.


Like what? The above is an inquiry into some recommended methods of study, wheras this longer, second text is to accomodate the minimum post length requirements of the board.


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You are not supposed to just reread things, that's a waste of time. During the test you need to recall things you already know, not reread them, so you should practice recalling, not rereading.

Only read your notes when you need to control what you have already recalled, or when you realised that you don't understand something.

How you actually practice recalling is up to you. Some people like flashcards (check out Anki), others like to pretend to be explaining things to others, some make their own tests with friends. They all work well although certain methods are easier done with the right kind of subject and test type.

Of course if you have practice questions/problems available or even tests from previous years, do all of them, like you would do the real thing, on limited time without any outside help. You should check them after if you can, or ask a friend to help control it.

This is very active and will probably hold your attention (it can be exhausting though), but if you still have problems focusing you can try the pomodoro method. Get a timer, set it to 25 minutes, study, when the time is over you take a 5 minute break, repeat. If 25 minutes is too much, you can shorten it, and when it eventually becomes too short, you can gradually build up longer sessions. Also keep in mind that studying one hour for four days is better than studying four hours on a single day, so spread it out.

Hope this helps!


first i write down all the topics i need to study and their prerequisites.
then i put on some music (i always study with the same 15~30 musics, i keep looping them until i finish)

then i start learning these prerequisites and keep going...

my favorite breaks are: drink latte, meditating and taking a short walk


Hello laions.
I need some tips to make good use of Evernote. I dont like to have lots of papers with soykafty notes everywhere.
Its good to use it as a main source of organized notes?

I guess that I can't use that Cornell system.

Thank you. Do you use any kind of soykaf Luke pills stay focused?


I'm not sure what a luke pill is. Regardless, the only type of pill I use is caffeine, and I only use it when I forget to drink coffee and am in the middle of a work session. I think it's just placebo for me, but I need it so that everything "feels" right.


I don't use that, but probably because I don't use any type of new software, so I don't know if it's good or not. I do take a lot of notes using Emacs and org-mode, configured to read papers, and write notes about them.


>luke pill
Swiftkey fuarrrked up, sorry.


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I tried to follow some laions tips to study, but I can't keep with it. What the fuarrrk is wrong with me?

>try to take notes

>basically the same textbook content, without examples
>try to focus
>open some soykaf 20~40 minutes later

soykaf, I'm fuarrrking stupid. ;_;


Nothing. Just keep doing it! Soon you will figure out what kind of notes to take and your focus will improve with time too.


Studying is a skill. A real skill, like programming or archery or swimming. You don't sit down to code on your first day and make an operating system. The issue with studying in my opinion is the lack of instant gratification.
Anecdotally we are programmed to react to instant gratification all the time, and we get it in different ways. Even in coding, the newer editors have all sorts of extra stuff that help keep someone entertained. Websites these days are bustling and constantly trying to get your attention, Instagram has endless scrolling etc. You don't even have to really search the net for answers anymore, before you might have had to find a website with a conversion chart, or google to find a site that explains something academic; now you can just google " 42oz to lbs" and google gives you everything. However, studying hasn't changed, because the way we learn has not really changed (this is what a tiny part of my phd is about). We actually know more about learning now then we ever have, and most people aren't doing anything about it.

So think about it this way: Studying is a skill, perhaps unlike any other skill you have had to acquire in your life, because in a way studying is life or death. Allow me to generalize a bit here, but if you never learn to study, you may find gaps in your ability to focus, those gaps as the years start passing can form into real issues in your everyday. I have colleagues that have to buy illegal adderall pills, or Modafinil, simply because they have never developed the ability to work on one thing for a long period of time.

You have to learn to study, you have to practice studying you have to actively study. Staring at a textbook is not studying, writing down the notes on a powerpoint slide is not actively studying. You have to interact, you have to push your bounds of understanding to threshold and play with the idea. It's taxing, it's hard, and it doesn't get better. The bright side is, if you figure this out in undergrad you will be way ahead of a large amount of people that are currently in undergrad. I didn't figure it out until ten years after undergrad, I didn't even figure it out until three years into my PhD. Hell, somedays I think I still don't know what I'm doing. You have to work hard. There is no shortcut, things like evernote etc, are just praying on the fact that everyone is looking for the answer to their lack of cognitive discipline.

Hope this helps. If you care about my opinions and have any more questions feel free to ask. If you hate my opinions pls no bully.


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>you have to actively study


>There is no shortcut, things like evernote etc, are just praying on the fact that everyone is looking for the answer to their lack of cognitive discipline

I know, but I feel like I'm far behind from my classmates. Hell, some of them are really smart, they always do the "homework", even the hardest ones.
I don't know. Maybe a psychologist can help me.

Is >>907 you? I liked that "Deep Work" thing, but to actually implement it is hard, very hard.
I'm not that Evernote guy, but I think it's nice to save notes online at the end of semester.


How long do you think it would take to obtain the ability to focus for someone who has been a neet for a couple of years?
I mean, without meds.
I've been reading a little about different topics like math, philosophy. And sometimes I find myself struggling with a simple five words sentence. Like I can not make the connections between them.
Other times I do just fine. I believe it has to do with my inability to concentrate that came as a consequence of my neet years.


Not very long. Just avoid too entertaining music and use paper (writing helps you to memorize)


>>you have to actively study
Once again, how you study is up to your own preferences. You can try out all the different methods that were mentioned in this thread.
Personally, I condition myself by drinking a glass of water, turning off my computer (or only leaving the web browser on if I need it for my work) and perhaps turning on some music (no headphones though). I constantly use a whiteboard; since I only use it for studying, it really helps with my concentration.
So yeah as you have guessed, I'm all about "rituals". I have never forced myself to do them though, they became parts of my studying "routine" (not sure you can call it that..) before long.

Keep in mind that you will never never be able to truly immerse yourself in studies if you aren't interested in the subject and/or can't see the end result.


>sometimes I find myself struggling with a simple five words sentence.
This sometimes happens to me as well, honestly when this happens I'm better off just doing something else for the time being.
Hanging out on the internet and "multitasking" are extremely bad habits when it comes to concentration. Try spending less time on the computer and more on getting an understanding of your subjects.


I'm quite interest on your time management system. Any upgrades since November?


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Most likely a psychologist can't help you, but if it would make you feel better to ask them and rule out the possibility of you being mentally ill then go ahead. They may however, just put you on pills you don't need and force you to form a life long habit.

>active study

This lain has a point.
When I mean active study, I mean interacting with the subject though. If you give me your subjects I may be able to help you closer. Like what the lain said about constantly using a white board.
I don't recommend listening to music, and even though it works for >947 doesn't mean it works for you. Applied psychologists have done a lot of research on music and studying, and while imo they haven't found anything significant, most studies point to a lower-work quality when background music is used in the context of studying. However, if you think the only way you can study is with music feel free--but also understand that you may be willingly applying a point of distraction to something that needs a lot of focus.
Music is good when it's something meaningless, writing an e-mail, a powerpoint, but nothing that requires a lot of focus.

>Keep in mind that you will never never be able to truly immerse yourself in studies if you aren't interested in the subject and/or can't see the end result.

This is true, but if you can learn to concentrate and think deeply on command, you can treat those subjects that you aren't interested in with an extreme level of thought, if you recognize that it's important to do well, even though you hate it. For instance, I hate qualitative stuff, but when I was starting my PhD, I was forced to take a qualitative research class, and every thing I turned in was done with the same level of seriousness, depth and breadth as something I would have like to do--I just didn't like it.

> Is >>907 you? I liked that "Deep Work" thing, but to actually implement it is hard, very hard.

It's not supposed to be easy, hell it may not even work for you. The main point I am trying to express is that the sooner you recognize that learning to study well is not easy or fun, is the sooner you will begin to succeed in these classes. It's a muscle you train. Bodybuilders don't get massive in 4 weeks, academics don't get good at studying in a short amount of time.

It could take you a while, or it could be quick. It depends on your ability to handle cognitively intense workload. Why don't you try for yourself. Think of it like running. Turn off your computer sit down with the topic you want to study, and study for 20 minutes straight. If it's a book read for 20 minutes straight, and then call it a day. Work towards 30 minutes, and then work towards two 30 minute sessions in a day, and then towards an hour, etc etc.

Any time you feel your mind wander off, think of it like meditation, and force yourself to go back to what you are doing. Think of it like a video game, anytime you read a word and get an unrelated idea ZAP it, and go back to work. Some people like to write all the ideas they get while they study down to explore as a reward after they finish, but I don't personally like that style.


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Pic. related is a good way to actively study. Doing exercises and practice problems is great too.


>If you give me your subjects I may be able to help you closer
I'm taking Calc 1 and other stuff.
Computer Science degree.


this is how i actually study/prepare my anus for the exams

>recover everything we did in class

>re study everything using le net
>do soykaf ton of exercises as it builds my reaction and my way of approaching certain type of questions.It also increases my confidence and make every exam much easier (I'm talking about Maths/Physics. I'm bad at literature)


soykaf ton not sokyaf or whatever i wrote kek


Okay Calc1 and CS is my specialty. I normally teach Calc1 and CS intro classes.

What this Lainon said
Is very very good advice for approaching your calc 1 class. Math for me is something that I have to interact with every day. These days I do Project Euler, but when I had to take Calc, I did exactly what that lain said. I look up a concept, read about it a bit as sort of a primer to get my brain in the mood. Then work problems until I am exhausted. Math is a way of thinking, and if you can figure out how to think in math you will be way ahead, the way to figure out how to think in math, is to do tons of problems. There is no easy way here. A strategy I used to use was wake up early in the morning so that there were no distractions, and then treat math like grinding in a korean MMO, and sit for an hour and just do problems. Any problem I couldn't figure out I would write down and bring it up in class. I would do and redo problems so I could start picking up on patterns. Then when test time comes it feels no different then my everyday. Even bigger though when life throws you a calc problem, you don't get scared.

> CS

Same as Math. Students fail my class the most when they think that you can passively learn to program. You need to be doing the problems in the book, making things on your own, etc. I failed my first programming class and dropped out of school shortly after because I thought that if I went to class I would be okay on the tests. Sure enough, I would get to those tests and realize that I had no idea how to do anything, anything except talk about programming that is.

I hope I am able to help you--and I hope you don't see me as some guru or something and are hanging on my words. I just figured out a lot of stuff and I've been in college for close to ten years. If I could talk to myself when I was in your position I would tell myself that in ten years I am not going to wish that I had more time to spend playing warcraft3, and that I wouldn't regret working harder then everyone around me. You can be literally anything or anyone, and be better then everyone, you just have to work harder then everyone.
Nothing is given for free here, and it will only get worse as technology seems to degrade peoples ability to reason and critically think.


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You helped me a lot, thank you.
When I'm studying calculus, with Stewart's textbook Spivak's textbook, reccomended by several people on Internet, is too advanced to me, I read the chapter, do the examples and work on odd-numbered exercises. This can take a (exhausting) day, sometimes I can't even finish all the problems. After this, I do the problems that appeared on old exams (my professor shared a file with lots of problems, maybe ~ 200, some of them are tricky and hard).
Let's see what happens.

>and I hope you don't see me as some guru or something

Well, arent't you a professor?
I'm just a dumb student.


A lot of people like to space assignments or studies out and do a little bit of mutiple asignments each day. I find I prefer the opposite and like to work on a project or subject nonstop for days on end. Its very cathartic to do math or read papers for 8-10 hours a day. its almost meditative in that anything else in my life disapears for a few days and I have a single focus and I exist only to persue that focus. During breaks while working Ill find myself thinking about it even if im eating, riding the bus, or watching youtube even dreaming about it. Im not sure if its healthy but I end up knowing my soykaf inside out. I really like this method but it only works if I have plenty of time. its hard to learn/do anything correctly if youre panicked from an impending deadline.


>fancy and complicated time systems
Why Lain, why? Why are you making it? Why don't just study as far as you can, anf then rest?


No, I have never studied in my life.
That's why uni was such a culture shock and I have failed all my classes so far.


I prefer this as well. It feels nice to be so entranced in your work.


I wish I could do this. But so far I've been sticking with the opposite approach. Focusing in a single task for a short amount of time.

I was thinking about studying while commuting, but I have the feeling it's going to be uncomfortable.
Was planning to carrying a small notebook with math problems written in anticipation on it. I'm not sure though.
Anyone ever tried or have a suggestion on how to pull this off?


When you can explain it in words or on paper you understand it well enough to not worry about it and move to the next subject.
Just talk it over with or without a buddy or grab a piece of paper and write it all down how you would tackle that problem.
Also doing quizzes and heaps of problems helps learning.
Just do problem sets everyday and you'll learn much more than from reading.

Talking to yourself may sound bit crazy, but if you can explain it than you're set.


What kind of commuting? I have experience studying whilst on public buses.


I'm talking about one-hour bus rides.
Most of my notebooks are cheap A4 (approx.) sized. Which I believe will be too big to carry and write on the bus. I mostly work with pencils and erasers but, for simplicity's sake, the best choice would be a pen and scratch whenever I screw up.
The hardest part for me would be to take the time to write the problems in my practice notebook though.
Any tip will be appreciated, lainon.


I take 2 Benadryl, slam 16 ounces of coffee and work until my eyes bleed every day.

Only mildly kidding. For monotonous stuff flashcards are the only way I can memorize anything.

I'm super visual so re-writing notes helps a lot.
I'll take a notebook and find a new notebook and then copy all of my notes page by page.

If I'm doing something more hands on, I will replicate and do and do until I can't any more or until it becomes second nature.

Getting under the hood of things and looking for WHY it works not WHAT it is helps me too.


Why Benadryl? What's the relation with studying?


Only do small notes during class. Try to pay the much of attention as possible. Take picture of the blackboard and copy them to a notebook if necessary.


I'm always trying to improve my studying habits. Anyway, for me:

Begin by carefully reading through the chapter, supplementing any confusing portions with videos, physically working my way through the examples and summarizing the chapter and important details in LaTeX (reinterpreting it helps me a lot, not just copying and pasting except for theorems).

Then, working through the exercises and watching videos, referring to notes and examples when stuck.

In an ideal world, I'd be doing a little bit everyday, as everyone here should know it's best for learning, but I'm a crammer :/ Trying to change that though!

And before an exam, I go through and do a couple problems from each section (each subsection of each section to get a taste of everything), picking the challenging looking ones of course.

and yeah, pomodoro. I took LH2L too, here's a neat little script for linux users:
sleep 1500; display /home/user/some//image & sleep 300; kill $!


What's up CS50 bro. It is a great course, I should finish it. I've already taken an intro course so I wasn't super interested in it, but the layout and content was amazing for someone who doesn't know programming or computers at all.

And hey what's up SICP bro. SICP is hard as fuarrrk. I got to chapter 3, realized I was going waaaaay too fast and I've recently restarted and got to chapter 1 after only moving forward if I understand everything, and take super good notes during the lectures and reading, at least TRY to do all exercises (is there an answer key?) .


I always end up smoking nicotine before finals. And my method varies from something like math, to something like history. It varies even more when self teaching vs. university. I think running after studying would help. I also try to think about the material when I'm not studying, like when driving.

For some reason, one of the more quirky things I do is GTFO of an area as soon as I start getting anxious, bored or distracted. I have like 6 different spots in my two bedroom home where I'll bounce between, IDK. Helps for some reason.

I study in the PM and review it the morning no matter what though. Frequency all the way. I usually try to go pretty intensely too, I want to be as efficient as possible. No dillydallying and if I do, I go all out. Pomodoro usually until I've been studying for 2-4 hours, then a big break. Sometimes I'll work on only one subject for days, sometimes I'll switch after every 25 minute pomodoro session. Depends.

One thing I intend to do is approach finals like it's a final, not use notes, textbooks, symbolab or youtube videos to get me through problems. It really bites me in the ass habitually doing this, because then, only by the time the exam rolls around do i realize how dependent I was on my tools / references.

I agree with your point about rephrasing, but why don't you like keyboards? I usually do both, sloppy copy paper next to my laptop for exercises, drawing diagrams, etc

Also, I too write down my questions to the book.

To me, it sounds like you should take the CS side of programming more seriously. I used to think the same ("just code something") until SICP. But hey that's just me.

>not to wait until inspiration strikes or that you feel motivated
totally agree. Discipline over motivation anyday. And as much as I hate studying, when I actually sit down and do it it's hella comfy, and it makes me feel good about myself. I could go for hours once I start.

tell me about these notebooks

Thank you for explaining more, interesting idea to "skip" what you are stuck on and come back to it during shallow time, I like it.

I do my best when I always carry my sloppy copy notebook with me, where I keep my unstructured notes before they get transferred to LaTeX. Very useful to be able to whip it out when standing in line or something.


> where I keep my unstructured notes before they get transferred to LaTeX
Does it helps you understanding the subject?


There are answers in the PDF, i think.