Lynbrook | Module #9: Productivity Tips and Strategies
Module # 9 Produc-vity Tips and S trategies By Carl Shan, Kavya Shankar, Brandon Liu, Betsy Tsai, Varun Pemmaraju
Module # 9 Introduc-on Carl Shan, Kavya Shankar, Brandon Liu, Betsy Tsai, Varun Pemmaraju The purpose of this module is to compile a list of effective tips and strategies that can quickly help youbecome more productive with your time.The module is organized into several sections:I. Studying Strategies – This section will go over general tips for studying.II. Writing Papers – We know this is a big part of being productive.III. General Strategies – Strategies for general activities such as email management.IV. Productivity Tools – We will list some applications and tools that we use to build our productivity habits.As a caveat, we know that not all of our strategies will work for everyone. Please try to take the time todiscover the amalgamation of strategies that work for you.
Module #9 Sec-on 1: Studying Strategies By Carl Shan
Module # 9 Sec-on 1: Studying Strategies Carl Writes: 1. One of your goals should be to make studying unnecessary. I mean this as in, you should cultivate thediscipline to pay such close attention in class and to tune in in such intensity that your brain naturally capturesmost or all information such that the only studying left to do is to skim over material before a test. Of course,this is difficult for most but we’re trying to help you get there. One way I think you can begin to discipline yourmind to that state is simply by practicing or engaging your knowledge soon after you’ve learned it. In myCS class for example, right after I learn about the concepts in lecture I attempt to apply what I’ve learned tothings I already know. We recently covered the topic of recursion, and I just thought about how closely that tiesinto the movie Inception. By doing so, I am forming more neural connections between concepts in my head,leading to higher memory retention and better comprehension.2. Take the initiative to seek help when you need it. There is no shame in asking seemingly ‘dumb’questions. Those who judge you for asking questions about what you genuinely don’t know aren’t worth yourattention. It took me quite a long time before I learned this lesson.3. Repetition or rote learning will only get you so far. You should truly understand the lesson and not simplybe able to memorize it. The reason behind this is simple – you build your intellectual capital base. Just as youmight have heard it is easy to make money when you have a lot of money, it is easier to get smarter when youare already smart. The reason behind this is simply due to the fact that when you have an eager brain thatcontains much knowledge, a new piece of information can fit snugly right in. Get smart now so that it’s easierto get smarter later.
Module #9 Sec-on 2: Wri-ng Papers By Betsy Tsai
Module #9 Sec-on 2: Wri-ng Papers Betsy Writes: Firstly, dont try to force anything. If you really want to write that scholarship / college essay about leadership, but your personal experiences cant really aPest to this (really hackneyed) subject, then dont. You want to come up with something unique and representa-ve of your capabili-es. In the long run, we all get -red of trying to write something were not. And then we just cant. And then comes writers block. College essays: -‐-‐Recall and chart down your past experiences. Even go through old elementary school porYolios or middle school photos. Recall signiﬁcant conversa-ons with teachers, parents, friends. By synthesizing these, youll gain clarity for how your life has illustrated the prompt. And, the readers will know that you are actually human, not just a resume. -‐-‐When asked about your "goals," "ambi-ons," "aspira-ons," dont immediately think about a career. If every kid your age was thinking about careers in this much detail, the majority of them would be lying. Think of the ques-on this way: "what is your mission statement?" Go on university websites for examples of mission statements. What in abstract terms do you want to do? Give a unique face to the ambi-on of being a district aPorney or electrical engineer.
Module #9 Sec-on 2: Wri-ng Papers Betsy Writes: Open Research Prompts: -‐-‐Start ac-ng like a prompt and asking ques>ons all the >me. Read a book, have a conversa-on, and wonder why someone said something, or came to that conclusion. -‐-‐ex. My friend traveled to Taiwan and China this summer to teach English and found that the Chinese were a lot less gregarious and embracing, and more self-‐contained-‐-‐-‐maybe a result of the One-‐Child Policy? BAM! Research paper topic! (Im sure this works in all sorts of ﬁelds.) Planning & Outlining Outlines. Use complete sentences. Fragments are for archaeologists. If you have a bullet point that just says "my community project," great, 3 days later, how were you going to link that to the prompt again? Dont be afraid to use sentences that sound immature. Its just your outline. This is not whats being submiPed. If you want, use sentences like, "A indicates B, which means C, which is like point D, and is related to the thesis because E..." Makes for a more cohesive paper. A very beefy outline is also a lot less daun-ng to write than an actual paper. Theres a sense of ﬂuidity, that you can go back, screw around with it, and write without erring. Keep the ﬁngers tapping out the ideas. Let your brain have more to work with when you put things visibly down on paper. Having a really strong outline also makes wri-ng the paper seem a lot easier, almost like transcrip-on.
Module #9 Sec-on 2: Wri-ng Papers Betsy Writes: Actually Wri>ng -‐ Take breaks. Run. Play your instrument (I know you lie on those Music department prac-ce sheets). Look at some art or photography. Essen-ally what youre doing is taking a break from trying to juice yourself. Were all aﬀected by the environment around us, so being cooped up in your liPle room 24/7 wont do you much good. -‐ If theres a genre of music or ar-st that gives you energy, by all means... -‐ If you struggle with wri-ng a good, interes-ng variety of sentences, or how to charge through a paragraph without making it sound as tedious as the wri-ng process, try reading other ar>cles. Find a voice you like and see how they set up the claims of each sec-on. Youll ﬁnd some-mes the best writers arent necessarily linear in their trains of thought. -‐ If you have a thought inside your head, but dont know how quite to communicate it, say it aloud. Your mouth will somehow form it into a sentence, or at least a couple of fragments. If you need to, write what you blurted out on a separate sheet of paper / Word document, play around with its structure, clarity, and then insert it into your paper. Proofreading -‐ Read it aloud. Youll immediately pick out the verbose, aristocra-c words with more syllables than you would normally care to pronounce. -‐ Have someone (Hanford and Clark are hard-‐asses ;P) read it. If it makes sense to you, great, but youre not the grader, are you? -‐ Aher reading each sentence, ask how its related to the other sentences in the paragraph, the paragraph, and the topic. Ask yourself if you really need to make this point. I cant tell you how many -mes Ive read peoples papers and they have threads in there that dont need to be there and make reading the paper a heavier task.
Module #9 Sec-on 3: General Produc-vity Strategies By Carl Shan, Brandon Liu, Varun Pemmaraju
Module #9 Sec-on 3: General Produc-vity Strategies Varun Writes: 1. Planner: I thought everyone uses planners.. but apparently thats not the case. For me a planner is a way of passing memory and RAM, as Brandon calls it, so that it can be saved for other stuﬀ. 2. To-‐Do Lists: I keep a structured set of lists through my iPhone Notes. It used to be on this neat liPle pad that someone gave me but I went through so much paper it was ridiculous. But anyway, I have a Current To-‐Do which is all stuﬀ which has to get done today, followed by things that should get done if I have free -me that day. Then theres a longer term to-‐do list. I think the most important thing is get in the habit of being able to cross things out. If you dont start and get into the system, it becomes harder and harder to aPain the produc-vity goals you want. 3. Dont put oﬀ small tasks if you can do them at that moment. If theres an email that can be responded to, dont mark it as unread and say youll "do it later". Like I said before, cross stuﬀ oﬀ the To-‐Do lists while you can. 4. Along those lines, everyone has to ﬁnd a way to ﬁght Facebook/TwiOer/etc. Counterintui-vely, for me it was to have them always open along with Mail. Firefox has this neat way of pinning websites you always use, and then ﬂashing them blue when they update. At ﬁrst, it was addic-ng to check but now, Ive become bePer at ignoring it un-l the problems done or the chapters ﬁnished. Also, with them constantly up (but tucked away on the side), I dont have the urge to open a tab and go check.
Module #9 Sec-on 3: General Produc-vity Strategies Varun Writes: 5. Find things in your life that you can accomplish and feel like youre gePng something done, but involve no academic work whatsoever. It can be working out, cleaning your room, etc. For me, Triathlon prac-ce really gets me through the day but it literally can be anything. 6. Sounds cheesy but when youre showering in the morning or while ea-ng breakfast, think about what your goals are for the day and how you plan to accomplish them. Be speciﬁc! Dont just say "Do CS HW"; quan-fy what you want to get done so that its easy to turn it into an accomplishment at the end of the day. 7. Leave room for spontaneity in your schedule! It keeps you sane!
Module #9 Sec-on 3: General Produc-vity Strategies Brandon Writes: 1. Capture all the things you need to get done somewhere so you dont need to use extra "RAM" to remember 2. Schedule which day you want to get these things done, so that each day you have a todo list that you dont have to look at un-l that day. 3. Leave room for unexpected occurrences, and dont get upset if you didnt accomplish everything you wanted to do. 4. Remember the purpose and outcome youre gemng out of comple-ng a task. 5. Some-mes produc-vity means cumng out tasks that you shouldnt be doing. Always ques>on every single task and ask yourself whether its something you should be doing. Some-mes we end up doing things that dont actually contribute to anything! 6. When applicable, see if you can leverage someone elses skills to get something done faster 7. hPp://regardingwork.com/2011/09/01/100-‐ways-‐to-‐get-‐more-‐done/
Module #9 Sec-on 3: General Produc-vity Strategies Carl Writes: 1. Start small -‐ dont try to accomplish 100 tasks in 1 day if you dont have to. It just burns you out and makes you cynical about produc-vity. 2. For big projects, do a por>on the DAY that its assigned. A small por-on, but more than just a symbolic gesture. For many, just star-ng is the diﬃcult part. 3. Plan things out. So much can be accomplished when you plan out what you want to do and when you want to do it. We have a tendency to think vaguely to ourselves “Oh I’ll do it tomorrow.” Think instead, “I’ll complete the Biology homework assignment from 4PM – 5PM tomorrow.” 4. Priori>ze. It’s very important to do so! It gives you a sense of perspec-ve of what’s important. By priori-zing your tasks and ranking/categorizing them in terms of importance, you are essen-ally telling your mind what tasks it needs to concentrate on.
Module #9 Sec-on 4: Produc-vity Tools By Carl Shan
Module #9 Sec-on 4: General Produc-vity Strategies Carl Writes: Apps: 1. Use Google Calendar or some sort of calendar to keep track of everything. Especially big and important dates. I simply cannot emphasize how important this is. By keeping a calendar, I no longer forget any big or important events. I even put the deadlines of school projects down and have periodic reminders to ping me! This has been an immense help to me. 2. I use Boomerrang (Gmail Plugin) to keep track of emails that I have to follow up on and send. 3. No>fyMe -‐ Cell phone reminder tool. Its 5$ but theres other ways to get it for free (hint hint). 4. Ive used TaskPaper, Todoist, Things, Omnifocus, Wunderlist Rememberthemilk and much more. All are kinda meh. Ive stuck with Taskpaper for now because its by far the most ﬂexible. These dont solve the problem of produc-vity. Theyre just tools. Buying amazing running shoes doesnt help you use weight if you dont use them in an eﬀec-ve manner. Don’t mistake the tools for what the tools are supposed to help you do. 5. Check out Self-‐Control if you have a Macbook. It’s a website blocking app that can keep your Facebook/Reddit/TwiPer/Whatever urges under control.
Module #9 Sec-on 4: General Produc-vity Strategies Carl Writes: Where Can I Get These Tools? Email Tools: Boomerrang -‐ hPp://www.boomeranggmail.com/ CloudMagic -‐ hPp://www.cloudmagic.com/ To-‐Do List Applica-ons: Wunderlist -‐ hPp://www.6wunderkinder.com/wunderlist/ Taskpaper -‐ hPp://www.hogbaysohware.com/products/taskpaper Omnifocus -‐ hPp://www.omnigroup.com/products/omnifocus/ No-fyMe -‐ hPp://no-fymecloud.com/ ToDoist -‐ hPp://todoist.com/
Module 9 In Closing… Carl Shan, Kavya Shankar, Brandon Liu, Betsy Tsai, Varun Pemmaraju In summary, these are all some of the techniques and tools that have helped us become more productive. Itdoes not mean that these are the right tools for you. Find your own mix of strategies and systems that help youbecome more efficient. Take what value you can from our advice and craft something out of it.Keep in mind that one of the hardest parts of becoming more productive is finding the willpower to even trulywant to. That means being able to watch less TV, use less FB, stop playing games etc. so that you canaccomplish and achieve more in life.The best way to build up this willpower, and you definitely can do it, is by changing your habits slowly butsurely. Start small, with just one unproductive thing that you do, and cut it down by 10%. Increase every otherday by a little bit more until you have a firm grasp on it and rinse and repeat for all your other wasteful habits.We, as your mentors, can only guide you to see the paths that we’ve walked in our lives. It is important for youto also discover your own.And we all believe that you can find it.Cheers,Carl, Kavya, Brandon, Betsy and Varun
Thanks! Authors: Carl Shan, Kavya Shankar, Brandon Liu, Varun Pemmaraju, Betsy Tsai For more informa-on, email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com