Week 3 in Action

This week Dr. Oakley introduced us to some great techniques for maximizing memory and what she deemed as anti-procrastination tools, but are really more useful when it come to daily planning and management of the (mere) 24 hours we have in a day. 


Personal Learning Challenge: This week’s personal learning challenge has to do with time management skills, or my lack thereof. As I touched on earlier procrastination is not really an issue of mine. I tend to adhere to a pretty strict philosophy of what Dr. Oakley calls, “Eat your frogs first.” I just call it getting it over with so it’s not hanging over my head…Both philosophies deal with doing whatever is the hardest, most disliked aspects of whatever you are doing or learning first. This method has served me pretty well over the years with the exception of certain occasions. For example, when the “frog” is a research paper, or a huge section of difficult reading, or even a colossal mess created by my 2.5 years old and 12 month old. What tends to happen is that I spend too much time “eating my frog” and don’t have time for the other aspects of my day. I am suffering from a lack of good planning, and time management skills.

Solutions Based On: “Eating your frogs first” and tips for creating and using a daily planner journal.

New Solution To Try: On of the most interesting aspects of this weeks material, for me, was the fact that if you don’t produce a physical copy of your task they will haunt the minuscule space in your working memory. With that in mind I feel that since I don’t ever write lists, or tasks I am making my life that much harder. My new solution is going to be to keep a planner journal and write out nightly to-do lists. The following are helpful hints and tips to maximize the effectiveness to-do lists and well allocated time. 

  1. Dr. Oakley recommends keeping a weekly list of longer term projects and tasks as well as daily list comprised the previous night. (This is done so your unconscious mind can chew on these tasks while you sleep)
  2. Schedule other “random” tasks into your learning. (I.e. washing the car scheduled with time working on the processes associated with finishing a research paper.)
  3. Don’t just write the tasks prior to their completion, notes on outcomes and what was effective and what did not work also benefit you for next time.
  4. ALWAYS PLAN YOUR QUITTING TIME!! (This is almost as critical as your working time, as it gives you a “clocking out time”)
  5. Schedule in active leisure time as studies show that actively pursuing leisure time results in better performance in non-leisure time than in individuals who do not actively pursue leisure time.
  6. Eat your frogs first. (Do the most despised thing  or hardest thing first)
  7. Believe in the Law of Serendipity which says that Lady Luck favors those who try. (This helps when you become overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of your tasks, as it reminds you to just give it a shot.)

So in order to not run out of time because I spent waaaayy to much time focusing on the first, hardest task on my list I am going to try to schedule out my day the night before, and the sunday before. I will allocate my time into 30 minute to 1 hour chunks of time. I will schedule in the academic, the leisure, the random, and also a quitting time. Look for future updates on my progress with being better organized and how that will make me a more effective learner. Until next time. 



Week 2 in Action

Wow!! There are TONS of really great learning techniques being presented this week. Our lecture series this week focused mainly on alternative methods for learning other than passive rereading. Some of the stratagem we examined were; Chunking, overlearning, Einstellung, Interleaving, and the negatives effects of highlighting and underlining.

Personal Learning Challenge: I tend to have a hard time retaining information, since I have two small children I can almost never dedicate all four slots in my working memory to learning concepts.

Solution Based On: Chunking and the “Octopus of Attention” metaphor.

New Solution To Try: Professor Oakley taught us that chunking information is a way to manipulate working memory to hold more. If you think of the short term memory system along the lines of the “Octopus of Attention” you can imagine chunked information as being like a ribbon extending from on the four slots with information attached all along the ribbon and only the main idea taking up a slot. The freeing up of any more of my working memory to use in active learning of concepts is obviously helpful to me so I think I would benefit from chunking the material I am trying to learn. Chunks are forms by first focusing your complete attention on the material (maybe putting the kids down for a nap or sending them to the sitter) and secondly gaining an understanding of the material, and finally by gaining context of the information through practice. (Essentially learning not only HOW but also WHEN to use the chunked information) Definitely no small feat. But she also gave us the useful techniques of interleaving (doing various problems mixed up with other assorted problems) and deliberate practice (practicing what you find the most difficult first) to help us along the way. Happy Learning folks.


Note: This was written with the top of a blue laundry basket being thrust between my face and my hands and my computer screen..not bad for the circumstances if I do say so myself!

Week 1 in Action

Grading Rubric for this assignment reads as follows:

 “Write an article or textbook module, or create a website, Pinterest board, blog, or podcast about
how to broaden your interests and passions—including a description of your own preliminary
attempts to go outside your comfort zone in learning or trying something new. ” 

I am going to address that aspect of the assignment by taking each weeks key lessons and describing how I have been or plan to incorporate them into my learning style. Each week will feature a challenge and a solution based on the material taught. I will also clearly state the tip I am basing my solution around. With that said on to “WEEK 1 – IN ACTION.”


Personal Learning Challenge: I am a single mom to two toddlers and also a student and most of the time carving out studying sessions is impossible with the kids so what I end up doing is leaving them with the sitter and doing my studying at the college. This makes for quite a bit of time away from them and extra expense. It would be really great to be able to study while they are around. 

Solution Based On: The Pomodoro Technique / Two Separate Thought Modes

New Solution to Try: Based on the anti-procrastination technique the Pomodoro technique (which is just basically setting a timer and studying until it goes off 25 minutes later and then giving yourself a reward) and the fact the after FOCUSING on the information you are trying to learn, it is good to give the DIFFUSED MODE  a chance to work with the material by doing something relaxing such as exercising or resting I decided to try a Pomodoro-esque-babysitting-diffused-thinking technique. It will involve getting my babies squared away in the play room and setting the timer and studying for 25 minutes, then going to play with them for the 5 minute reward. Doing another cycle of study / playing as a reward and then taking the kids for a walk as a reward to both them and me. The exercise will give my diffused mode a chance to play with the new information and the kids will love it. Hopefully I can learn more efficiently AND save a bundle on babysitting! Hopefully next week I will learn how to study for those 25 minutes! 🙂