5+ Oddly Effective Tools That Build Great Habits with Thomas Frank

Back in July 2015, I presented a webinar, “5+ Oddly Effective Tools That Build Great Habits” with special guest Thomas Frank, from CollegeInfoGeek.com. This webinar was to help introduce high schoolers and college students to some unique and potent tools that they could use, and Thomas was excellent, showing us a wide variety of tools that were unique, creative, and very effective that everyone could add to their toolboxes.

So tune in to see what crazy ideas Thomas shared with us.

The tools demonstrated in this video are quite a few, and a summary wouldn’t do the video justice; however, I do want to give you all the links to the different applications and sites mentioned in the video.

Buffer, Tool, Tools, Habits, Habit, Thomas Frank, Gretchen Wegner, High School, CollegeBuffer is a social media management suite. It allows you to schedule posts, set up a queue of repeatable posts, etc. for Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, etc.

IFTTT is an application that allows you to connect two different websites/applications. In the video, IFTTT is used to connect Beeminder with Buffer, so that when a post from Buffer goes live, a data point gets added to Beeminder.

Beeminder, Tool, Tools, Habits, Habit, Thomas Frank, Gretchen Wegner, High School, College

Beeminder is a website application that allows you to have a system of accountability for your goals. You can set up goals, and if you don’t complete the goals, then you have to pay Beeminder. So, for example, if you don’t send out one post on Facebook a week then you have to pay $5 for each one you miss per week.

Habitica, HabitRPG, Habit RPG, Tool, Tools, Habits, Habit, Thomas Frank, Gretchen Wegner, High School, College

Habitica/HabitRPG is a habit tracking website. Effectively this website is a game based on your habits. The more habits or routines you complete, the stronger you get and the better you do. You can do a wide variety of things here, so here’s an example of what you can do: Let’s say you want to make sure you do your HW every day. You can schedule out your HW that you have in your planner, and then every day you can check it off, and you’ll gain EXP, items, etc.

ToDoist is a great place to keep track of all your tasks that you need to take care of. You can add tasks here to keep track of everything that you need to take care of.

Google Calendar is basically a planner that’s online. You can use it to schedule out all your time in a visual schedule. This offers a wide variety of features, including multiple calendars that can be turned on/off easily, time slots that can be overlapped and color coded, and much more.

As you can see there were a variety of tools listed in the video, and the system surrounding these were even better, not to mention starting at around 39:00 minutes into the video, Gretchen and Thomas answer a wide variety of questions from high school and college students. For a little sample, there’s one discussion about part-time jobs, another question about meta-habits, and so much more!

If you found this useful, I highly suggest you check out Thomas’s site, CollegeInfoGeek.com. He has a regular blog, podcast, and more for college students with tips and advice. And you can get even more tools and tips in my course, The Anti-Boring Approach.

How to Make a Final Exam Study Plan

Do you ever feel lost or stressed when it comes time to start studying for final exams?

I know a lot of my clients have over the years, and so I wanted to share with you all my favorite technique for how to organize your final exam study plan.

Don’t have time for the full video? No worries, I’ve got your back with this summary:

In this video, I show you my favorite way to organize how to study for final exams and get it all on one page. And this, especially when you have multiple final exams, is very important as you have a LOT of details you have to prepare. So to start, you want to start about 3 weeks out, even if you haven’t received all your information for the final exams, and draw out on a sheet of paper a calendar as seen below.

Final Exam Study Plan, Gretchen Wegner, Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying, Final Exam Studying, Time Management, Organization, Calendar, Planner,

Basically, you want to start out with a blank sheet of paper or white board, and then draw a table that has 7 columns and 3 rows (or more or less depending on how many weeks out your finals are. Then above each column put the day, and I like to start on Mondays and have the weekends grouped together. Then we want to number the days, so Monday the 1st, Tuesday the 2nd, etc. Next, on the final week we want to put in when our final exams are, so if you are in high school you likely have 2 exams a day and it might look something like above, with English and History on Monday, Math on Tuesday, Science on Wednesday, etc. Then in the weeks prior we plan out what we are going to do to study. In the example above I said that on Tuesday we’d study English with 10 flash cards, math on Wednesday with 10 flash cards, and then take a math sample text on Thursday. And my final tip is to leave Friday’s empty that way you can really focus your studying on the weekends when you have free time and give yourself Friday afternoon’s off; because let’s be honest, no one wants to do anything on Friday afternoon.

If you found this tip helpful, you can find a LOT more tips for studying and time management in my course, The Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying, so please go check that out!

Why the Word “Study” is the Worst Word to Write in Your Planner

Never Write the Word “Study” in Your Planner. Here’s Why.

It doesn’t take long for a teenager who’s just started working with me to learn this — I hate the word “study.”

Well, obviously that’s not completely true. My passion is teaching students to study strategically, and I couldn’t do this work if the word “study” weren’t involved. However, I do believe strongly that the word study does NOT belong in a student’s planner or To Do list. Neither does the word “review.” Check out the video for a full description of why.

Hey there, don’t have time for the full video? No worries, I’ve got your back. Here’s a summary:

I was working with a client recently on the skill “verberizing,” which is about finding really strong specific words for the tasks that you need to do when you are doing homework or studying to make it an easy instruction for you and your brain to know exactly what you need to do next. Now before we continue, I want you to look at the following four options and think about which of these would be the best way to verberize “study french” in her planner.

Gretchen Wegner, The Anti-Boring Approach To Powerful Studying, Academic Life Coach, Academic Coaching, Academic Coach, Why the Word "Study" is the Worst Word to Write in Your Planner, How to study, How to use a planner,

My client had written, “Study French,” to which I cringed and said, “Eeeh, I don’t like that.” Of course, she responded, “Oh my god Gretchen you always make me change these,” and I thought it was rather funny, but said, “I know, so let’s do it.” Next, she erased “Study French” and wrote “Review Subjunctive.” I still said it wasn’t clear enough. Then she wrote, “Go over Subjunctives.” This was getting there, but “go over” still doesn’t tell me what she needs to be doing. It’s very broad, and I can’t picture in my mind what the steps would be for “go over subjunctives.” So I had her change it one more time. This time she wrote, “Finish subjunctive worksheets.” This was MUCH better. You see she realized she had unfinished worksheets for subjunctives, and what better way is there to study subjunctives than to finish the worksheets – a readily available tool. Not to mention this tells her exactly what she needs to be doing next.

Now you might be wondering, why is writing super specific instructions in your planner so important. Well, the answer is that “verberizing,” or making sure your planner has crystal clear instructions, is important because it helps ensure that your brain has no excuses about following through on your plan/to-do as the instructions are so simple and crystal clear.

If you’d like more instructions and information about “verberizing,” including an extensive list of verbs you can use in your planner, you should check out my course!

How to Make Time Visible… and Feel Less Anxious Too

All too often, the teens with whom I meet tell me, “Oh, I don’t have much to do. I can remember it all in my head.”

Sometimes that’s true! But more often, we discover that they DON’T have their “to do list” as down as they think they do.

In this video, I share a story about a client who recently gave me this line, how I handled it, and what he discovered in the process!

Hey there, don’t have time for the full video? No worries, I’ve got your back. Here’s a summary:

With the start of the new semester, a client I’ve been working with a couple of years now was telling me how he was sure that this year he didn’t need to get any time management systems going again this year. So I shared some brain facts I have in my Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying and then I asked him, given the facts I shared and how the working memory needs things to be as clean and clear as possible if he’d be up for just practicing a planner to make time visible. So we devised a time tracking sheet that worked for him.

Gretchen Wegner | How to Make Time Visible | Reduce Anxiety | Time Management | Organization

After we created this blank chart, which we called the week sheet, he looked up everything he needed to do and what he needed to take care. After a little bit and it was all mapped out, some of which he needed to my help to be reminded of – mainly the major due dates for the future – I asked him, “How does it feel now that we’ve put all of this out there?”

Gretchen Wegner | How to Make Time Visible | Reduce Anxiety | Time Management | Organization

His response, I felt, was absolutely amazing. He said, “Before it felt fine, but now it feels better. I couldn’t actually tell how much anxiety I was feeling before, but now that we have it all mapped out in that chart, I don’t have to struggle to remember anything anymore and I didn’t realize that was causing me anxiety, but now that I feel better I realize it was.” I thought that was so smart of him, as a junior in high school, to be able to articulate that kind of understanding of his experience.

If you want more tips to reduce anxiety or time management, then I have tons of them in the Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying, which you can learn more about by clicking here.

Always Write These Two Things In Your Planner

Did you know that the WAY you write something in your planner can have a big effect on whether you actually follow through?

My client recently discovered that there are two things he needs to write in his planner for every major assignment — the WHAT and the HOW of what he needs to do.

Check out the video to find out more.

Hey there, don’t have time for the video? No worries, I’ve got your back, here’s a short summary.

I LOVE it when I get blown away by the concise way my clients articulate something they’ve learned in our sessions. I had a college student who was a freshman in college and in high school, he’d never used a planner. So we were working on making sure he planned out his assignments. In this instance, he came to the session and said he had an essay assignment, but not to worry he was great at writing essays. I asked him to take it out and just review it, and it turned out, while the essay was simple itself, the process for completing was a bit more complex than he had thought.

This led my client to realize that when he’s writing an assignment into his planner he needed to add 2 very important details. He needed to note, not just WHEN he would work on the assignment and when it was due, but also HOW he would complete it. For his essay, he needed to plan out a few different topics to discuss, as well as take the time to go to the library and research the topics chosen. So in his planner, he put down when he would figure out his topics, and when he would go to the library to research them, and when he would do the final writing.

It’s important to keep in mind that you don’t just want to plan around WHEN you will do something, you also need to plan out HOW you will complete what you’re working on when you plan to do it.

If you’d like more time management tips, click here to find out more about my online course.

Are Your Homework Plans Realistic?

Do you should on yourself when making plans?

During most of my coaching sessions with teens, we spend at least some of our time making plans for the next week. We break big projects down into smaller parts; we decide what study tasks will be done on which days before the test.

However, invariably my clients will make plans that they can’t keep! They tell me what they think they SHOULD say, rather than what they can realistically accomplish.

Here’s one way I handle that during our sessions:

Hey, don’t have time for the full video? I’ve got your back, here is a quick summary:

As you can imagine I do a LOT of planning with teenagers. Close to, if not more, than half of my sessions are planning out the next week or month based on what homework they’ve been assigned. Typically we look at what assignments they have upcoming and then planning backward to figure out what they should be doing each day/week/month as necessary.

During these planning sessions, quite often we’ll make a plan and my clients will say, “Sure I’ll do that”, or my personal favorite, “Sure I’ll do that Friday afternoon.” The vast majority of my clients and students I know, don’t want to do ANYTHING after school on Friday, even as a teacher I don’t. They are saying what they think they “should” say, instead of being realistic and making a plan they will actually follow through on.

Gretchen Wegner | The Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying | Homework | Plans | Planning | Clients | Assignments |

The way I handle this is by asking them, usually a few times, “Are you “shoulding” on yourself? Are these plans actually realistic?” I try to make sure they understand they don’t have to “should” on themselves. It won’t benefit them to make a plan they know they won’t follow through on, or that they will just end up procrastinating for later. So we revise the plan using my triangle, “tools, team, and routine”, to make a more realistic homework plan.

If you want to know more about the triangle, “tools, team, and routine”, you can find it in the “Overcome Procrastination” section of the Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying.

How to Start Homework After Taking a Break

Are you a fan of taking breaks? Me too. But how do you keep yourself from taking a break that’s way too long?

This is a common problem for many of my clients (honestly, it’s hard for me, too).

Recently, though, a client’s love of music helped inspire this new time management idea.

Check out the video, or read the summary below. Will this anti-boring idea work for you?

Hey, don’t have time for the full video? I understand. Here’s a quick summary:

We all love taking breaks when we’ve been working hard. The problem with taking breaks, especially from homework, is that they are often too long. Afterward, we aren’t motivated to get back to work. A recent session with one of my clients lead me to a new idea for a potential fix to these issues: A Break Playlist.

Gretchen Wegner | The Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying | Academic Coach | Academic Coaching | Life Coach | Life Coaching | Breaks | Homework | Homework Break | Time Management

The goal is to create a few playlists to listen to when you’re on break. You want to make a few so that you don’t get bored of your playlist. The playlists should be the length of your break so that you know you have to get back to work once they end. You also want them to all end on the same motivational or energizing song so that you feel motivated to get back to work.

That’s just one of the many time management tips available in my course, which you can learn about by clicking here.

For Every New Assignment, Do This ASAP

What’s the first thing you do when a teacher gives a new assignment — especially something big, like a paper or project?

Thanks to their work with me, many of my clients are getting good at writing the due date in the planner (on the day it’s due, by the way, NOT the day it’s assigned).

However, a few of them are still making THIS mistake, which causes them a lot of stress in the long run.

Check out this video for more details about what not to do, or read the summary below!

For those who don’t quite have the time to watch the whole video, I’ve got your back. Here’s a quick summary:

My Client’s Problem: My client almost made a horrible mistake. He was telling me about how he had an essay to write over the weekend and how it wasn’t a big deal. I asked him about the prompt and he said, “Oh I haven’t read it yet.”

Gretchen Wegner | The Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying | New Assignment | New Essay

Our Solution: I made him read the prompt right there in our session together. It turns out that this assignment was not an essay, as my client had thought, but rather a short research assignment that included talking to several students on campus and taking a poll. Had he waited until the weekend before the due date to read the prompt, he may not have had the time or capability to finish this new assignment. The tip here is that for every new assignment you get, always read them when you get them. This will save you a lot of academic headaches!

Gretchen Wegner | The Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying | New Assignment | New Essay

 

A Handy Tool for College Students to Start the Semester

I’m excited to share with you a handy tool for college students.

This was taught to me by a real live student (shout out to Harrison!). He is a sophomore in college and interned with me over the summer.
I LOVE this tool that he makes for himself, and I wanted to share it with you all — including a tweak or two that I’d make to it.

Check out the video, and then PLEASE forward it to any college students you know could benefit from this handy little one-page organizational tool.

For more time management and study solutions for students, parents and educators, please sign up for the Anti-Boring Approach to Successful Studying Course HERE

How to Read a 400 Page Book in Two Hours, Part 2/4

Reading is hard for students!!

Especially reading books that you don’t necessarily choose for yourself…and at an assigned pace that isn’t natural for you. So it’s important to have some tricks up your sleeve for how to read large quantities, ESPECIALLY if you are a college or grad student.

This week I discuss creating a roadmap for finding important information and main ideas in books. Once you understand the structure of how an Author writes, it is easier to dive in and start reading efficiently.

Watch to find out how!

Just to recap so far:

Tip 1. Pay attention to the table of contents
Tip 2. Pay attention to “where” the Author puts their main ideas.

Stay tuned for Part 3 in this four-part series next week.

For more time management and study solutions for students, parents and educators, please sign up for the Anti-Boring Approach to Successful Studying Course HERE

8 Tips for When to DIY vs. Hire an Academic Professional

8 Tips for When to DIY vs. Hire an Academic ProfessionalShould you hire a tutor, coach or consultant? Or should you DIY for just a little longer?

During this episode, Gretchen and Megan help you decipher when it makes sense to spend the big bucks and get professional help…and when you don’t need to!

Specifically, they discuss the following 5 types of academic experts that families often like to hire, who work outside the school systems:

  • Tutors
  • Standardized test prep professionals
  • College application consultants
  • Academic life coaches
  • Mental health professionals

In considering when it makes sense to hire out, and when it makes sense to DIY a little longer, Megan and Gretchen discussed these 8 questions families should ask themselves to decide:

  1. How important (e.g. life or death!) is the situation?
  2. What resources does the school already provide, and is it enough?
  3. Is this a topic for which there is limited time and chances in order to succeed?
  4. Are your home relationships deteriorating because you’ve been doing it yourself for too long?
  5. Will it be more convenient to work with this other person, and are you willing to pay for convenience?
  6. How motivated is the student who will be receiving the support?
  7. What are your family’s finances?
  8. Would you save more in the long run if you had a professional help you get started?

Got any questions or concerns on this topic, or any other? Want them addressed on our podcast (free coaching! yes!)? Please email us at collegepreppodcast [at] gmail [dot] com and tell us all about it.

“This podcast originally ran on www.collegepreppodcast.com

Plan Now to Graduate College in Only Four Years

Screen-Shot-2016-07-07-at-12.02.59-PMWhy is it important to graduate in four years? What are some ways that you can choose your college smartly to ensure that you do graduate without spending needless extra money and time?

Guest expert Karina Dusenbury walks us through how to plan for college so well that you graduate in as little time as possible, and preferably no more than four years. 

She discusses:

  • what graduation rates are and how they are measured
  • what families should know about the graduation rates at the colleges they are considering
  • factors that impact students’ ability to graduate in four years
  • tips for choosing schools so that you maximize your ability to graduate in four years

To download Karina’s additional tips, go to www.maximizecollege.com/collegeprep.

Karina Dusenbury spent nearly 15 years in higher education helping students achieve their college goals. Along the way, she became all too familiar with the obstacles students encounter, which prevent them from graduating on-time and being fully prepared to enter the workplace. She founded Maximize College to help families refocus their college planning efforts so that students are more likely to get what they expect from the time and money they investment in college. Karina’s professional background includes positions in academic advising, career counseling, leadership development, and college admissions. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri, a master’s degree in College Student Development from the University of Iowa, and a doctoral degree in higher education administration from North Carolina State University.

Tips to Wrap Up the Summer without Stress

Tips to wrap up the summer without stressThe beginning of the school year is always crazy and stressful for families.

But if you follow these tips for wrapping up the summer, you’ll save yourself some stress later on.

It’s an investment of time that’s well worth it. 

Here’s the basic checklist:

  • Update your resume
  • Get basic school supplies before stores run out
  • Finish the summer assignments
  • Make appointments to talk to people from school
  • Put all the dates from the school’s calendar into YOUR calendar
  • send thank you’s to anyone who helped you
  • Ask for recommendation letters
  • Attend orientation
  • Write goals for the year

Now listen in so that you can hear Megan and Gretchen’s commentary about each one!

How to Have Meaningful College Visits in the Summer

How to Have Meaningful College Visits in the SummerJust because it’s summer and students aren’t on campus doesn’t mean that you can’t have a rich, meaningful college visit.

In fact, summer is one of the most practical times for families to visit colleges around the country, as a part of their summer vacations.

So, how do you make sure that you glean as much information as possible when you’re walking around a campus that’s not humming with students?

In this episode Megan and Gretchen break down the following:

  • the four biggest benefits of visiting colleges during the summer (as opposed to the school year)
  • surprising questions that people often don’t think to ask, that can help you find out whether this is the school for you, and
  • some examples from a recent summer visit Megan took to Texas Women’s University to help amplify her points.

Tired of Making Detailed Plans But Not Taking Action?

Do you ever make a great, detailed plan… which you then promptly ignore?
I’m queen of this! Some of my teenage clients will often cite this as their reason not to do any planning in the first place: “But if I don’t follow the plan, I’ll get mad at myself, so I’d rather not make plans in the first place.”

The subject of “to plan or not to plan” came up in a recent session with a client, and so I thought I’d share my reflections with you.

What’s your experience with following through with plans? Got any wisdom to share or need any advice? Please post them on the blog below

A Sneaky Trick for Getting Your Teens to Use Their Calendars

Every year when I meet with new coaching clients, parents complain that their kids don’t  manage time well. I often ask: how do you model time management to your teen?!

Parents can usually tell me what their personal  method of managing their calendar is like. They often have a family system for consolidating appointments in one place, like a calendar that hangs in the kitchen. However, usually the parent is the one managing everything, and the teen is a passive recipient.  Rarely can parents point to an established process for doing calendaring alongside their teen.

 

Family Meeting to the Rescue

Every year I suggest that families have a family calendering meeting once a week. Many families I work with tell me that it’s too difficult to get everyone together for this kind of a meeting. However, I contend that if you can’t prioritize time management for your whole family, how can you expect your child to do it for school? I honestly believe that, if families took me up on this suggestion, it will totally transform their ability to plan efficiently together…and simultaneously build a strong time management habit in their teen.

Here’s one way to conduct your meeting:

Every week at the same time, ask everyone to bring their planner (or blackberry, iphone or laptop) to the meeting. The sole purpose of the meeting is for everyone to share what is on their calendar during the upcoming week, to record any appointments that effect them directly, and to problem solve any calendering conflicts that emerge.

I highly recommend that this meeting is a collaborative effort. It is not a time for parents to be the authoritarian controlling the calendar. Rather  it is a time for everyone — parents, teens, and younger kids — to share what is going on in the week, and make sure that anything that effects them is noted in their planner.

Here’s an example:

Parent #1 might note that (s)he will work late on Tuesday, and so Parent #2 writes that down in his/her calendar. Pre-teen Sister notices that this means that she won’t get picked up  on time from basketball practice, and so asks Older Brother if he can pick her up instead.

Then Parent #2 reminds Older Brother that he has a dentist appointment on Wednesday at 10:30am; when he writes it down, he notices that he has a Spanish test that day. He makes a note to talk to his teacher about an alternate time to take the test. Pre-Teen sister reminds the family that she has a project due on Thursday, and will need a ride to the library on Monday night. Parent #1 offers to drive.

Everyone writes everything down in their own calendar.

Why is this a magic solution to family calendaring?!

The family meeting:

  • Models effective time management, as well as collaboration and peaceful conflict resolution when issues come up
  • Helps kids and teens build a personal habit in the context of a family habit. After all, if the family can’t be organized enough to refer to the planner once a week, why should the teen be that organized on on his or her own?
  • Gives a time for kids to think ahead about school projects (which many are not naturally inclined to do on their own)
  • Requires that kids (and parents!) actually have a planner, refer to it, and write in it (another habit that teens aren’t likely to do on their own).
  • Expects that family members come to the meeting already knowing what their week will look like. That means keeping up the calendar in between family meetings!
  • Models a great technique teens can use later in life, in roommate situations or community living.

Finally, a common complaint I hear from teens is that, “My parents didn’t tell me I had to go to Grandma’s house on Thursday night, so I couldn’t plan ahead!” or “My parents didn’t tell me I had that dentist appointment, so I couldn’t plan ahead with my teacher.” Of course, it’s highly possible that the parents in question DID tell the teen, but he or she didn’t HEAR them. However, it’s also possible that mom or dad totally forgot to tell the teen what’s coming up. The family makes both these possibilities a moot point by providing a time to get everyone on the same page.

Have you experimented with family meetings for calendering? Does your family have another method that works for you? Please comment below and tell us your story!

P.S. Was this useful? For more great ideas and helpful hints, sign up for free email updates by clicking this link: http://eepurl.com/i10p