Save Time: 3 Ways to Study Smarter

I spoke a couple weeks ago about the concept of high-leverage time, in which every hour of focused time is an investment that will reap exponential benefits in the future.  Studying engineering skills certainly qualifies as one of these, and it’s crucial to learn a few skills that will help you get the most out of your study time.  These three ideas provided great time savings when every minute was precious:

  •  Learn keyboard shortcuts for your OS and for Sublime.  You should be able to do most of your work without touching your mouse.  Every minute you invest in practicing keyboard shortcuts represents hours saved in the future.
    • OS: Use shortcuts to switch windows seamlessly and search for anything you need.  Be able to switch tabs in your browser without using the mouse.
    • Sublime: Copy/paste are givens.  You should be able to search one or all files, duplicate lines, swap lines, and move between lines and parts of lines with ease.
  • Tame information overload.  In school, a million ideas and software trends are coming at you every day.  It can be overwhelming.  If I had looked up every new term and trend that came my way, I would never have gotten any coding done.  I used two free apps to help manage the information overload:
    • Evernote is my note-taking app, and I place the word REVISIT next to any term or part of the lecture I want to come back to.  When I have free time, a simple search gives me my list of concepts to look up or code algorithms to work through.
    • Pocket allows you to save any online article for later [offline] reading.  It even has a browser plugin so that you can save articles from your desktop, then read them later on your phone or tablet.
  • Schedule task-switching into your day to give your brain a break.  If you work on the same project for long periods of time, you’ll lose a lot of time banging your head against the wall.  It’s best to switch tasks every couple of hours — for example, between a major project, an algorithm exercise like exercism, and doing mock interviews with other students. Set a notification to remind you to switch tasks.  When you come back to your project, you’ll have clear eyes and often be able to pinpoint your problem right away.
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