Study Hacks on Campus: Putra University of Malaysia

Archive for April 2010

Finally at long last, the Study Hacks Malaysia group have come about to organise their ¬†first ever official meeting. I (Daniel) as the leader had to go through a rather paintstaking process of convincing my fellow comrades in doing so after week after week of delaying it or should I say in my fellow mates perspective, hoping that I won’t jump or annoy them with this Study Hacks thingy again and lets-just-get-on-with-the-beer-in-front-of-us-instead-of-this-serious-make-believe-talk-thingy-majingy.

Nevertheless, after much persuasion I managed to get the whole group together. Below are the points regarding the 1st discussion.

  1. Time Managment System

Discussion started off with the following questions:

  • What system do you use to manage your tasks in a day ?

Lets start off with a typical day of a student. Say on Monday you have to go to 1 class, pay your phone bills, buy toothpaste, have lunch with friends, a movie date with your girlfriend, and not forgetting to revise for the upcoming Management test. What do you do?

Zaiffarally’s day management system consists of the traditional sticky note reminder system in which he will right down all the tasks that needs to be done on that day. Meanwhile, Rafique simply uses his memory to remember things. In this example, it would be on Monday. Zaiffarally’s list on the sticky note will look like this:

-Go to Algebra class

-Pay phone bills

-Lunch with mates at the mamak stall

-Buy tooth paste

-Movie date at One Utama

-Revise for next week’s Managment test

Notice that this system has 2 weakness:

  • How long will each activity take? In other words, there is no estimation on how long each activity will take ie estimated start and end time for each activity.
  • How do you remember an activity that is planned weeks in advance?

Here’s where the power of the capture system comes to play. The capture system concept here was mainly devised from Cal’s book. This article will then discuss various other techniques in “capturing” a task. However, lets start with the system that I have been using for the past 4 months. Below are the materials required for the Study Hacks task capture system:

  • A calendar where you can write at least a dozen tasks on each day.
  • A small notebook or a scrap paper that you carry around with you in your pocket
  • A pen to write down the tasks

Lets start with the scrap paper that you have to take around with you all the time.

The scrap paper from the above example then will look something like this:

8.00-10.00 a.m: Algebra class

10.00-10.30 a.m: Pay phone bills

12.00-1.00 p.m: Lunch with mates at the mamak stall

3.00-5.00 p.m: Revise 2 chapters for next weeks Managment test

8.00-11.00 p.m: Movie date at One Utama

Zaiffarally’s sticky note system now looks better. The scrap paper now holds an estimated time to complete for each activity. However, there are still weaknesses in the system which are:

  • What do you between 10.30 to 12.00 p.m. and the rest of other “time holes” not mentioned in the above list?
  • Does paying the phone bill and buying a toothpaste really take 30 minutes and at separate time frames too?

Here’s the caveat to the Study Hacks capture system though; the estimation must be an honest one (don’t lie to yourself). It’s better to have spare time than you originally intended than to be chasing for time. This is one of the methods discussed under the Zen Valedictorian Method. See

Lets start with the first question raised from Zaiffarally’s “improved” sticky note system.

  • What do you between 10.30 to 12.00 p.m. and the rest of other “time holes” not mentioned in the above list?

The answer to this one is simple. Go to the library and start doing your assignments in 50 minutes chunks for each study sessions.  For example from 10.40 a.m. to 11.30 a.m you will be doing that Algebra assignment that has been bugging you for the past 2 weeks. From 11.30 a.m to 11.50 a.m you will take a short break.

This short break can be anything from checking your Facebook for a short while, reading a newspaper article, texting or playing a game on your mobile. Anything to take your mind off the the studies for that period of time.

From 11.50 a.m. onwards you will then continue from 11.50 a.m. to 12.40 p.m. for another 50 minute chunk to complete that annoying Algebra assignment. It is advisable that this 50 minute chunk pattern to not be repeated for more than 3 hours to avoid mental fatigue.

From this example, we know that every Monday, Zaiffarally has a free time from 10.00 a.m until lunch time at 12.00 p.m. This is constant for every week. Since it is still pretty early in the morning, chances are this time frame will have a low chance of being hijacked by last minute adventures or “lepak” sessions organised by other students. Thus, Zaiffarally should capitalise on this and use it to get as much work or revision done before night falls.

  • Why did I say before night falls ?

Most social activities at colleges are at night. So if you want to do well in your grades and have a “life” in college, it is imperative that you should complete all top priority tasks by night which is usually around 8 p.m. Considering you wake up at 8.00 a.m (not including that hang over you had the previous day) you should have less than 12 hours in a day after you minus lunch hours, showers, tutorials, and classes. Suddenly, you don’t have that much free time do you? It is for this very aspect time management is absolutely crucial.

Time management is absolutely important to succeed in college.

TO BE CONTINUED… (rather busy with exams at the moment)

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