How to Study for Exams - An Evidence-Based Masterclass | Ali Abdaal | Skillshare

How to Study for Exams - An Evidence-Based Masterclass

Ali Abdaal, Doctor + YouTuber

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36 Lessons (4h 30m)
    • 1. How to Study - Welcome to the Class

    • 2. The 3 Steps of Effective Studying

    • 3. Understand Anything With the Feynman Technique

    • 4. The Science of Active Recall

    • 5. How to Learn New Content With Active Recall

    • 6. Taking Notes During Class

    • 7. Taking Notes After Class

    • 8. Scoping the Subject

    • 9. The Importance of Understanding

    • 10. Finding a Syllabus for Yourself

    • 11. The Magic of Spaced Repetition

    • 12. The Retrospective Revision Timetable

    • 13. Simon Clark’s Spaced Repetition Journal

    • 14. The Power of Interleaved Practice

    • 15. Should You Re-Read Your Notes

    • 16. How to Highlight Effectively

    • 17. How to Use Flashcards Properly

    • 18. Flashcard Alternative - Google Sheets vs Anki

    • 19. Mind Maps

    • 20. Memory Techniques - Mnemonics

    • 21. Memory Techniques - The Peg System

    • 22. Memory Techniques - The Mind Palace

    • 23. The Essay Memorisation Framework

    • 24. The Active Recall Framework

    • 25. BONUS - How to Use Anki Flashcards Properly

    • 26. Motivation Is a Myth

    • 27. How to Reduce Distractions

    • 28. The Pomodoro Technique - Pros and Cons

    • 29. The Best Music to Study With

    • 30. Maintaining Work-Life Balance While Studying

    • 31. How to Study Effectively With Friends

    • 32. Conclusion

    • 33. BONUS - Burnout and Work-Life Balance ft. Simon Clark

    • 34. BONUS - Motivation, Focus & Friction Reduction ft. Simon Clark

    • 35. BONUS - Eating and Music While Studying ft. Simon Clark

    • 36. BONUS - Dealing With Procrastination ft. Simon Clark

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About This Class

Being able to study efficiently and effectively is a superpower. As students, it boost our grades, reduces our stress levels and frees up our time to do more interesting things. But we're never taught how to do it. Most of us rely on 'intuitive' techniques like rereading, note-taking, summarising and highlighting to get through our exams. But as the evidence shows, these intuitive techniques are often counter-productive.

In this class, I'll take you through the well-kept secrets of how to study effectively. We'll break down (1) how to understand our content using techniques like the Feynman Method, Active Recall and various note-taking strategies, (2) how to remember our material with Spaced Repetition, Interleaving and various memory techniques, and (3) how to maintain focus while studying, from developing the motivation and discipline to do the work, to taking appropriate breaks and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. 

I was a medical student at Cambridge University (UK) from 2012-2018. In my second year of medical school, I discovered the research around effective studying and memory enhancement, and it completely changed my life. By using the strategies you'll learn in this class, I was able to start and grow a 6-figure business and later a successful YouTube channel while still getting pretty decent marks in my exams, and actually enjoying the whole process with a minimal level of stress. 

Now that I'm a doctor working in the UK's National Health Service (NHS), I still use these techniques when preparing teaching sessions for medical students, and when preparing for my own postgraduate medical exams. These days, my time is even more limited than it was when I was a student, but by using the appropriate study techniques, I can keep on top of the workload while still running my business, YouTube channel and having some semblance of a social life. 

So thanks for stopping by - I hope you dive in and you can gain something from this class that you can apply to your own life. 


1. How to Study - Welcome to the Class: If there's one thing that's going to completely transform our experience of school, college, or university, it's how to study effectively for our exams. No one really teaches us the stuff, but there's a ton of scientific evidence from a lot of studies that tells us exactly how we can study to maximize the amount that we learn, and minimize the amount of time we have to spend learning it. My name is Allie, I'm a doctor working in the UK and I teach physiology at the University of Cambridge where I was student for six years. I discovered all of this effective studying stuff when I was in my second year of medical school, and it completely changed the game for me and freed up my time to start my own business and later my YouTube channel while still getting pretty reasonable exam results at university. In this online class, I'll be taking you through all the stuff that I've learned in taking copious exams over the last few years, supplemented by evidence from lots of scientific studies. We can make sure that we've got a good rationale for doing the thing that we're doing. To the end, this course is going to be split up into three parts. In Part I we're going to be talking about understanding which is the fundamental most important part of effective studying. In part II we're going to be talking about remembering, how to memorize things using active recall, space repetition, interleaving, mnemonics, pac systems, mind palaces, and all this stuff. In part III we'll talk about focusing. Getting the motivations to sit down and study in the first place, having the discipline to build a consistent study routine, taking breaks appropriately with the Pomodoro technique, not getting distracted while we're studying, what music to listen to, all that good jazz. I've been preaching to people about the stuff on my YouTube channel for the last three years. But now for the first time, I've put like every single thing all in one place in an order that makes sense along with loads of stuff that i haven't before talked about on the internet. Whether you've been following me for years or whether you're new to this class, then hopefully you'll find something for you that can hopefully help you supercharge your studying and spend time doing the things you want to be doing rather than studying for your exams. Thanks for watching and hopefully I'll see you on the other side. 2. The 3 Steps of Effective Studying: So this whole class is basically going to be split up into three parts. These are the three key steps of effective studying, effective learning, effective anything. That is step one, understand, step two remember and step three, focus. They're all interlinked and obviously focusing as part of the understanding and remembering. But those are the three broad categories that we split up this class into. When it comes to effective studying of any kind, understanding is by far the most important thing. One of the mistakes that we can often make when we're studying for our exams or learning anything new is that we can be very quick to rely on memorization, especially when we talk about some of the effective study techniques that we'll talk about later on like active recall and space repetition. Especially when students find out about those for the first time, this certainly happened for me. It is very easy to just go into flashcard making mode and thinking, "Okay, cool. I'm just going to be doing efficient things now. " Just really focusing on memorizing the details. But that's the wrong way around to do it. We always want to be starting with understanding once we understand the stuff, once we can comfortably explain it to a friend, comfortably explain it to a five-year-old and we can actually remember the fact that we've understood it. At that point, everything just becomes so much easier. So step one is understanding. When understanding, we'll talk about a defining method, we'll talk about active recall and how it works. We'll talk about some of the evidence behind it. We'll talk about how you can take notes during class and how you can take notes after class to aid with our understanding of stuff. Then we'll talk about scoping the subject, which is another fundamental technique to help understand the content. Our second step is remembering. We've all had this issue where we think we've understood something, we've been working through it for hours and hours and then we come back to the topic of week later and we realized that, "Oh crap, I literally can't remember anything that I definitely understood a week ago." That's because of the way memory works. There's something called the forgetting curve, which we'll talk a lot more about later on. That's basically this phenomenon where anything we learn, we are just going to forget exponentially. It will exponentially decay from our memory like half-life if you're into a lot of chemistry and stuff. Our memory for that thing will decay over time. We have to interrupt the forgetting curve by repeating the subject at spaced intervals and that's where the idea of space repetition comes from. So in this class we'll be talking through loads of techniques on how we can efficiently remember stuff. So things like using space repetition, using a retrospective revision timetable, using a space repetition journal, using flashcards, using mind maps highlighting, re-reading, memory palaces, the PEC technique, mnemonics. There's all evidence-based techniques that we can use to help remember stuff more efficiently. But again, just to reiterate, the main important thing is that we understand the content first and we worry about memorizing or remembering it later. Finally, along with understanding and remembering, the third part of effective studying effective learning, effective doing anything is being able to focus. So firstly, this comes from getting the motivation or the discipline to actually sit down and study in the first place. That's something we all struggle with. Then it comes from when we're actually sitting down to study, how did we not get distracted? How do we make sure we can focus for an extended period of time? How do we take breaks appropriately? So in this class we'll be talking through loads of techniques and how we can more efficiently focus using some evidence-based examples and also some anecdotal examples from my own life and that of my friends. We'll talk about what music is best to help studying and focusing. We'll talk about the different environments that we can create for ourselves to help make the process of studying a little bit more pleasurable and therefore make us more likely to do it. So those were the three steps of effective studying. Step one, understand, step two, remember, and step three, focus. We're going to be diving into those in great A-new levels of detail and throughout this entire class. Don't feel like you have to watch all the videos and hopefully you'll find it helpful and everything we put in there, In here, we put in there because hopefully it's useful. But if you are well-versed in the study techniques and you've been watching my YouTube videos for the last three years, then maybe you can skip the video on Active Record or space repetition because these are things you'll be very familiar with. Or you can just watch them anyway because it'll be a good reminder. But there's lots of stuff in this class that I haven't talked about in YouTube videos before. Things like different mnemonic techniques, things like motivation focused, procrastination, consistency like all this stuff, is brand new to this class. Finally, if you haven't read a book called Make It Stick, you should read the book called Make It Stick. This book is called Make It Stick to the signs of effective learning or something like that. The two authors of that book, literally dived deep into the research and they explain how we can make it stick, how we can learn anything, whether it's for exams or for Pilot School or for Law school or whatever. How we can learn anything efficiently. There's loads of stories in that book from students who weren't wondering very well in class and then they started incorporating some of these effective study techniques like active recall and space repetition. Then they marks magically got transformed just by changing the way that they studied. It wasn't that they needed to study hard or study more, which is often what we implicitly understand. It was that they were just changing of the techniques that they were using. Because really no one teaches us how to study. It's not a things taught in schools. When I first came across this stuff in my second year of Med school, me and all my friends, we had our minds blown by this psychology lecture that we had about how to study for exams. Because we were thinking, why wouldn't we taught this stuff in year seven or year eight when we were in middle school, whatever. So if you haven't read the book, Make It Stick, you should read it. We'll be drawing a lot from that book using examples and using stories from there. I think if you're a student and you need to learn anything, that is the single best thing you can do with your time in the next week, just buy that book, Make it Stick and read it. We'll put a link in the video description. It won't even be an affiliate link or might be an Amazon affiliate link. I don't know, whatever. I will put a link in the video description, Get it on Kindle, getting like physical copy, whatever you want, just read the book, Make it Stick because that will help all of your revision flourish. Okay, cool. So that's all my preaching about Make It Stick done. Thank you for signing up to this class. Let's now move on to the first section, which is step one, understand. I'll see you there. 3. Understand Anything With the Feynman Technique: All right. So the first step of understanding anything is being able to explain it to a friend or explain it to a five-year-old. This is the famous Feynman Technique, famously named after the famous physicist Richard Feynman, who was actually known as the great explainer. Feynman was a big deal back in the day before he died because he was able to distill really complicated things in theoretical physics in a way that made sense to the lay person. The reason he was able to do that is because he understood the topic so well. Once you've understood the topic well enough, you can just explain it to anyone. That is the key principle behind the Feynman Technique, and that's our key litmus test for whether we really understand something. So the way we do that, is that, whenever we are learning a topic, what I would do is that after I've learned to the topic or at every junction within the topic, I would ask myself, does this make sense? Firstly, and secondly, could I explain this to a five-year-old? Let's say medicine, I'm trying to learn about how atrial fibrillation works, for example. I might explain that, oh, well, atrial fibrillation is actually this hot rhythm where the atria are quivering, and fibrillation means quivering. Therefore, that means that we're going to get stasis of blood. So blood is going to stay in the atrium because it's not being contracted and propelled into the ventricles. We know that when blood is static in the atrium, then it's going to clot, and that clot can go into the ventricles and then can go into the lungs or can go into the brain and that would be bad. So that's me explaining it to a five-year-old, but this whole five-year-old thing is a little bit, it's a bit of a metaphor really, because obviously a five-year-old wouldn't note what the atria of the heart are. But that is reasonable assumed knowledge when I'm trying to explain it to a friend. The way I think about it is, could I feasibly explained this to a friend? If I can talk through atrial fibrillation in a way that makes sense in my head and make sense in a way that I can explain it to someone else, it means I truly understand the topic. But if I'm trying to understand any topic and I ever get to the point where I think, okay, in my head, I can't explain why A leads to B. I don't get how they got from this step to that step, whether that's in medicine, physics, science, maths, engineering, or whatever. If I don't understand how they got from A to B, that means I know that I wouldn't be able to explain it to a five-year-old or explain it to a friend. Because if I was explaining it to a friend, or a five-year-old, or a student, or whatever, they would ask why. The more times they ask why, the more I'm testing my understanding of the topic and if I can't feasibly answer the question of why, that means it don't understand it well enough. So at that point, I would go back to the source material to Google, Wikipedia, textbook, lecture notes, asking the professor, or whatever. I would try and figure out what is the answer to that particular question like why can't I explain that pair of it? Then once I've got that piece of information, then it'll stop thinking in my head again to me like, oh, this makes sense, I can now explain this to a five-year-old. So that's basically the Feynman Technique and Action. It is basically asking ourselves, do we actually understand this thing? Going back to what we start right at the start of the class, understanding is by far the most important part of effective studying. Without understanding, there is literally no point in memorizing anything. I know it can be tempting sometimes to think, "Oh, well, I wouldn't bother understanding this proof. I'll just memorize it and then I'll be able to regurgitate it in the exam." But that's really a generally ineffective way to learn. Step number 1 is always to understand. In order to understand, you can use the Feynman Technique, which involves requiring yourself to explain stuff to a five-year-old or to explain stuff to a friend. I've been using this for years and I think it's absolutely fantastic. So it's a more general tips for using the Feynman Technique. Firstly, the most important thing is that we keep the language simple. So earlier in my explanation of the atrial fibrillation works, I know in my head well the atria are but I could. If I was doing final technique properly and explaining it to a five-year-old, I would say, okay, well, the atria are the two top chambers of the heart and because you know the heart is split up into four chambers, you got the ventricles at the bottom and you've got the atria at the top. Blood goes from the atria to the ventricles and then all pumps gets pumped all around the body. But if the atria on working very well, if they quivering rather than contracting, then like squeezing, then the blood is going to stay hanging out in the atria, in the top chamber of the heart and that's bad because when blood hangs around in the top chamber of the heart for very long time, it can like clot and you can get this like little stone like thing of blood. That's not very good because if that goes into your lungs or goes into your brain, it means that the blood won't be able to flow pass this. It's like having a pebble in a pipe and the water can't flow through the pipe. Therefore, that's going to be bad because you need blood to give oxygen to your brain and into your lungs and everything. If you don't have oxygen, then your brain is going to die, and that's what we call a stroke, or if you don't get oxygen to your heart, your heart is going to die, and that's what we call a heart attack. So that would be like sort of the chronic keep it really almost patronizingly simple. But I think once you can explain any concept like that, that means if you truly understand it. Secondly, another thing that I find helpful when doing Feynman Technique, especially for more complex objects is really trying to drill down to what is the essence like? How can I summarize the answer to this question as simply as possible in as few words as possible? For example, one of the essays that I prepared in my third year of medicine where I was studying psychology was, to what extent do animals have a theory of mind? That is a really long thing that you can write like 20,000 words on. But to what extent animals have a theory of mind. After I've understood the topic well enough, I can basically summarize it by saying, "To what extent animals have a fear of mind?" Well, the answer is, they don't really but that's the wrong question to be asking. That's just my top line summary. They don't really have a theory of mind, but that's just the wrong question to ask. That insight comes from understanding the topic so well through like a whole day of researching and looking at papers and stuff that to be able to get to that conclusion is the point. It's the Feynman Technique and Action. It means that I understand the topic and that means that even better when I'm writing the essay, I've got this thread that I can argue all the way through. If somebody is marking my essay it really shows to the examiner that I understood the topic that I know what I'm talking about because I've got a coherent argument running all the way through. Also, there's a friend of mine Angers who's helping make this video. He's sitting right there. He uses the Feynman Technique as well. He discovered this when he was in his third year of studying geography at Cambridge University. He said that he was really struggling with a dissertation. It was like some really complicated thing. He was struggling to see the forest from the trees. He was so focused on the details of this dissertation that he couldn't really get the big picture. So what he tried to do is one day he went home, and he tried to explain the topic as simply as he could to his parents. He found that just the act of explaining these to his parents really helped solidify and simplify all of the concepts in his own mind. Then he bashed out as to is dissertation and got a high first class in that. Feynman Technique and Action or Richard Feynman, he have done us a great service by teaching us about this method. Moral of the story, we need to understand stuff before we can do anything else with it. In order to understand stuff, we need to be able to explain it to a five-year-old, expanded to a friend, explaining to our parents. Thanks for watching, and I will see you in the next video. 4. The Science of Active Recall: At this point in the class, we are still in the understanding section. We haven't talked about remembering stuff yet, we've talked about the Feynman technique. But before we move on, I need to tell you about something called Active Recall. If you've been watching my YouTube videos since like 2017, and you've seen my videos preaching about Active Recall, you don't need to watch this because it'll just be a repetition of stuff I've talked about before. But if you don't know about Active Recall or you want a reminder then please do watch this video, because apart from the Feynman technique, where you understand stuff by extending it to five year old, Active Recall is the single biggest thing that will improve all of our marks. Now, what does Active Recall mean? Active Recall is basically just a pretentious fancy way of saying, test yourself. The authors of that book that I recommend called Make it Stick, say that, "For the vast majority of students, if you're not getting the marks that you want to be getting, the reason is because you're just not testing yourself enough." Like testing ourselves is the most fundamental part of understanding anything and of learning anything. It's like if you're trying to learn the piano, you can't really learn the piano just by reading about piano theory. You have to test yourself by actually putting it into practice. It's the same when taking any exam. Like we all like to think that rereading information and, it's a case of putting information into our brains, but actually all of the evidence shows that actually, it's a case of taking information out of our brains. The harder we try and work to retrieve information from our brains, like active retrieval, active recall, the harder we try and work for that recall, the more that neural connection in our brain is going to be strengthened. To talk about the research a little bit, there was scientist called Professor Dunlosky. I imagine he's an American because they were all in America. In 2013, he wrote this really long paper where he summarized thousands of studies. Him and his colleagues, summarized thousands of studies done on college students and school students all around the world, that were all about how they studied for test for exams for whatever. He found that Active Recall or testing was very high utility, and he said that, on the basis of the evidence we rate practice testing as having high utility. Testing effects have been demonstrated across an impressive range of practice test formats, kinds of material, learner ages, outcome measures and retention intervals, thus, practice testing has broad applicability. Basically a fancy way of saying that we need to be testing ourselves more. For me and all my friends when we first discovered the power of Active Recall in our second year of med school when we had the psychology lecture, it completely changed our lives because we were like, oh my god, this is incredible. All I have to do is start testing ourselves a little bit more, rather than just try and reread and highlight and all that useless stuff that we were doing in the past. If you want more evidence about this, I'll put a link in the project show notes, project description, whatever to the YouTube video that I've done, which is like a 25 minute long YouTube video that actually specifically talks about some of the studies that show us that Active Record is the best thing ever. In those studies you'll see that there are students, one of them, my favorite one is that, they split up the students, they scatter students into four groups, and they all get them to learn the same thing. One group reads a text once, one of them reads the text four times, one of them reads the text once then makes a mindmap, and the fourth one reads a text and then just gets tested on it. Then they test the students [inaudible] later and they find that by very long way, the group that was tested on the material, does miles better than the group that re-read it four times or that made a mind map out of it. We all hear that making a mind map is a good thing, but actually just testing ourselves on the content is by far the single biggest thing we can do. I cannot say this more emphatically, active recall is the thing that which completely changes the game. The reason we're talking about it in the understanding section of this course, is because Active Recall is not just for memorizing or remembering stuff, Active recall is also for learning stuff in the first place, and that's what we'll be talking about in the next video. See you then. 5. How to Learn New Content With Active Recall: We talked about active recall and we've talked about how it's the single best way to make us remember anything. But a question that students often ask is, okay, fine, active recall testing myself is all well and good and I'm going to test myself more, but surely I need to learn the content first before I can test myself on it. That's a very reasonable trying to make. I think there is a little bit of miscommunication, misunderstanding amongst people about what testing actually means. We think of testing as being the thing that once we've learned the stuff, then we get a test on it and then that tests how well we remember the stuff and it is where we're judged based on the performance of that test. But I think what we should start doing and what's been really helpful for me and most of my friends is that we start thinking of testing as just a part of the learning process itself. For example, like reading a textbook I'm preparing for human physiology these days. At the end of every paragraph or every other paragraph, I will stop. I will metaphorically close the book and, or look away and I'll ask myself, okay, whatever I just read, what are the key concepts from what I've just read and can I phrase this in my own words? I'm doing that with a book closed. I'm not wasting time by writing out with some real stuff with a book open because that's completely passive and completely pointless. The fine thing is I'm closing the book and try to actively recall what I've just read and the fact that I'm doing it in there and then also helps with the forgetting curve that again, we've talked about a bit and we'll talk about a bit later because as soon as I've read that paragraph, reading that paragraph is a passive process, and therefore, my brain doesn't have to work very hard at reading the paragraph. Our brain is, it's not a perfect analogy, but it's like a muscle and that the hardware has to work to do something. The more likely it is to be able to do that thing better in the future. If I've just read two paragraphs about how the kidneys work, that's been pretty passive. My brain hasn't have to work very hard. But if I've read those two paragraphs and then close the book and then asked my brain to be like, what was that that I actually read? Can I remember what's going on? At that point, my brain has to work very hard. It's going to be more likely to strengthen that connection between all the neurons that are represent the physiology of the kidneys in my mind, and therefore more likely to remember it and more likely to understand it. At this point, I'm actually going to include wholesale a clip from a YouTube video that I made last year about how to learn new content or a quote from the book, make it stick and I will just put it in here now because I phrased it better than I could do now. Say hello to me from the past. There's a bit at the end where the authors are showing like text interviews from students that have used techniques like active recall and spaced repetition to massively boost up their marks. There's quite a good passage where the interviewing a medical student who got into medicine by some weird route that meant he didn't have the basic science background that all his classmates had and he ended up being bottom of the class. He talks in his book, like towards the end, he talks about how the only way he knew how to revise, how to study stuff was to read stuff in the book and when he didn't understand there or when it didn't stick, he didn't know what to do because all he'd been taught only been using for his whole life was just reading the information over and over again. Actually what he says is that when he started quizzing himself on the material as he went along. In fact, I'll read the material. He says," I would stop and think, what did I just read? What is this about?" I have to think about it. Well, I believe it happens this way. The enzyme does this and then it does that and then I'll have to go back and check if I was way off base or on the right track. He goes on to say, the process was not a natural fit. It makes you uncomfortable at first. If you stop and rehearse what you're reading and quiz yourself on it, it just takes a lot longer. If you have a test coming up in a week and so much to cover then slowing down makes you pretty nervous. But the only way he knew of to cover more material has established habit of dedicating long hours to re-reading, wasn't getting the results that he needed. As hard as it was, he made himself stick to retrieval practice to recall long enough to at least see if it worked. Then the guy goes on to say, you just have to trust the process and that was really the biggest hurdle for me, was getting myself to trust it and ended up working very well for me, really well. By the time he started, a second-year young student had pulled his grades up from the bottom of the class of 200 students to join the high performers and has remained there ever since and then we'll talk about how this guy actually started mentoring students on effective study techniques and how people started coming to him to learn how to study. This guy who was literally bottom of his class in this medical school, coming from a background where he didn't really have any basic science knowledge, managed to get to the top to the extent that people were asking him for help. All he did was quiz himself and stuff as he went along. Active recall, retrieval practice testing yourself is not just for when you've learned the material, it's actually a fundamental part of learning the material in the first place. You're weaving this narrative. You're building this mental model in your head. You're telling yourself a story of your content as you're getting through it, not just when it comes to the exam right at the end.That was me from the past explaining about how to learn new content using active recall. That is, I think one of the really important parts of understanding. Because yeah, testing ourselves is really important. Honestly, if there's just one thing you take away from this entire class, I don't know how long this class are going to be, but if there's only one thing you take away from it, please let it be that we should all be testing ourselves probably two to three times as much as we currently are. But that doesn't involve just testing ourselves as a judgment exercise once we've learned the topic, involves testing ourselves throughout. Because again, the more brain has to work to do something, the more effortful the learning is, the more the connections are likely to be strengthened. Thank you for watching and I'll see you in the next video. 6. Taking Notes During Class: Let's talk about the taking notes, specifically in this video, taking notes during class and in the next video we'll talk about taking notes outside of class. Taking notes is a little bit controversial because in general. If you look at the evidence for it, summarizing i.e writing summaries of stuff with the book open is generally considered a fairly low utility thing. According to Professor Dunlosky and his colleagues, the guys who reviewed thousands of studies that looked at this stuff. They found that the people who summarize content don't do very well compared to the people that just test themselves on the content. Because summarizing content is usually a passive process, and going back to our fundamental idea, the harder we have to, the harder brains have to work to do something, the more likely we are to remember the thing. That's partly why taking us a controversial, but in a video that I put out in like 2018 or something, talking about why taking notes was not effective. There were so many people that come into being like feeling like this was blasphemy that, how on earth can you possibly learn anything by not taking notes? Surely you have to go to your lecturer, and then after the lecture you have to come home, and you have to make notes on the lecture, and then you can learn the notes later on. I get it. It's really hard to get over the whole making notes thing. There are a few ways that we can actually make it more effective. Firstly, splitting it up in these two different ways as how I think about it, so during class and after class. In this video we're talking about during class. The first thing to say is that there's quite a lot of evidence about this stuff, but basically handwriting or notes is better for us than typing up notes. There's lots of evidence about this. But again, this might seem blasphemous to those of us who take our laptops and see everyone with a Mac book and like, bashing stuff on Evernote, or notion or, OneNote or whatever the note-taking app or the flavor of the month is. But handwriting notes does have more evidence behind it. Firstly, a handwriting notes is supposedly better because it helps us think a little bit more intensely. For example, there was a study done by Washington University in St. Louis in America, and they were comparing students who took notes by hand versus students who took notes with a laptop during a lecture. They found that if they were tested immediately after the lecture, the ones with a laptop did a little bit better than the ones who were taking notes by hand. But if they were tested 24 hours after the lecture, then they found that the ones who did the handwriting performed better than the ones who typed up stuff with the laptop. When they repeated the test a week later, they found that the handwriting students again get a better grasp of the concepts than the ones who took notes just using a laptop. This ties in with my own experience to this. I used to take notes on a laptop until I discovered this research and then I switched to taking notes by hand. I used to find that when taking notes with a laptop, fancy myself as a pretty fast typists, I would end up almost transcribing what the lecture was saying in real time, and either would be really annoying for the people in my row. I would be a little flex for me because I'll be like, ''Hey, look at me, I can type fast, please be friend to me.'' But the most important thing was that I ended up not really absorbing what was going on in the lecture because I was passively doing it, it was basically a hand-brain activity where lecture would say something and I would just started typing away, and then I'd find my brain wondering and I just still be typing what lecture was saying. But again, coming back to a fundamental point, the harder we have to work to do stuff, the more likely we are to remember it. Passively typing out what the lecture was saying wasn't very effective for me. But I found that when I switched to handwriting my notes, it remained that obviously I can hand write a lot slower than I can type. I had to prioritize the bids that it was going to hand write. I ended up actually focusing on the lecture a lot more like figuring out what are the key points here? What do I actually need to know from this? What is the general structure of the lecture? I found the handwriting those, and then later on when I get home, I would scan that piece of paper into OneNote, which I was using at the time, and then expand on it using screenshots and typed up text and stuff. But I found out actually writing by hand, helped me actually grasped the concepts a lot better than when I was typing out the notes. Just to corroborate this point, we've got evidence from a study in 2014, which are done at Princeton and UCLA, University of California, Los Angeles, I think. They got students to listen to talks on various topics like algorithms and bats and stuff, while either writing notes with a keyboard or writing notes with pen and paper. They did it for 67 students, and they tested them immediately after the lecture and a week later, and in these tests they found that the longhand note takers did significantly better than laptop note takers, despite the fact that laptop note takers had more notes to look at. This guy called Kenneth Cura at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. He said that, "The very feature that makes laptop note-taking so appealing, i.e the ability to take notes more quickly. It is also what undermines the learning.'' When we're taking notes with a laptop, we end up with lots more notes than when we take notes by hand, but that's not good, it's passive, it's not very effortful. There's also a bit of evidence that the act of handwriting it forms in association with our brains that actually improves our memory. I'll put like sources here somewhere so you can follow up and these sources if you really want to. Handwriting notes, it's generally better according to the evidence than typing them out with a laptop. Now, there's a few different methods of doing this. Often these days in the modern age, we might get like slide like PowerPoint PDFs, and then you can print those out or use them on your iPad with Apple pencil or whatever. You can get PowerPoint PDFs and then annotate them during the lecture, that's sometimes what I do if I have a PDF to annotate. What I used to do in Med-school is write things out by pen and paper and then I would scan them, but then I got an iPad later on and off switch now entirely to the iPad Pro method of note-taking. The third method is actually pretty good, it's called the Cornell note-taking system. The idea behind the Cornell system is that on one side of the paper or your iPad or whatever, you've got your notes from the class, but on the other side, like you've written questions for yourself. The idea behind that is that as we're studying our notes, as we're going over our notes, instead of doing the passive thing of rereading our notes and highlighting them, which is totally pointless and a complete waste of time because it's purely passive. Instead of doing that, we are covering up the actual notes and we're just looking at the questions and then we're asking ourselves the questions would be like, what are the four chambers of the heart? Or how does thyroid cancer work? Or what is calcitonin and where is it produced? What's the function? That would correspond to the answer that we've taken in our notes. But the point is we've written the question for it as well. We are forcing ourselves to use active recall, to use retrieval, going back to the thing about active recall that we talked about a few videos ago. The more we retrieve information from our brains, the more likely we are to strengthen the connections to that information. So I really like the Cornell method and in fact these days are used the app notion to accomplish the Cornell method of note taking. I will link there somewhere to one of my YouTube videos about this, it's like a 25-minute long YouTube videos that goes in depth about exactly how we're used notion to take notes. That would be what I would do if I were starting medical school from day one today. Finally, the third thing you can do to take notes in class is you can use a mind map, spider diagrams, topic in the middle and then stuff going off on either side. I'm not a huge fan of mind maps in class because you'd never really know how much information the lecturer or the professor is going to say. I find that it ends up getting very, very crowded. I prefer to just take notes linearly with the subheadings in mind, but mind maps do work for some people. I've got a few friends for medical school who were big on using mind maps when taking notes in class, so that's always an option. But to be honest, the whole taking notes in class for me thing like ever since I realized that taking notes is not very effective. The only reason, realistically that I actually take notes in class is because it helps keep me awake. Like it's so hard as you will know if you've been to university lectures, it is literally so hard to stay awake during a lecture. I found that for me that if I sit in the front row and I force myself to take notes, it means I'm far more likely to stay awake. Then the notes that I've got a usually a fairly minimalistic, mostly based on the subheadings rather than the nitty-gritty detail of the content. Which means I do get a broad brushstroke understanding of the content, even if I didn't get all the details there and then, but most importantly, it keeps me awake. That's just a little bit of advice about how to take notes during class. In general, the evidence suggests that handwriting your notes is probably better than typing them out with a laptop. But, you do you, I'm not here to preach, I'm hate to preach, but there's different methods that work for different people, the evidence generally suggest handwritten versus laptop. But if you're super keen to use your laptop into a type away and to show off to your friends, how fast you can type, that's absolutely fine by me, it's so good. I'll see in the next video we'll talk about taking notes after class, which is a very different thing. Thanks for watching and I'll see you then. 7. Taking Notes After Class: We've talked about taking notes during class, let's now talk about taking notes after class. I said for me, the main reason to take notes during class is to keep myself awake. But for me the main reason to take notes after class is A, to build my active recall questions and B, to consolidate my understanding of the subject, which is why this is in the understand section because we're still trying to make sure that we understand all of our content before we worry about trying to remember and trying to memorize it. Taking notes after the class. Basically two main reasons for it, number 1 is to be able to use multiple sources to help understand stuff. Often if we're in a university lecture, it can be hard to keep track of what the lecturer is saying and take down absolutely every detail. It can be quite tricky to understand the stuff as it's going along, which means we probably need to look over our notes again and we might need to add more little bits. Going back to the Feynman Technique, the ultimate objective is to be able to explain to a five-year-old or to be able to explain to a friend exactly how this concept works. If we ever get to a point where thing I guess that makes sense, but I don't get how we got from there to there or that bit doesn't quite make sense. At that point, we're going to need to use different sources, Google, Wikipedia, textbook, lecture notes, whatever. Then we can consolidate our notes so that when we're looking through it again, we get this more coherent narrative being built up. These days I use the app Notion for that. For example, if there's something that I don't understand, then I will create a separate page in Notion, and add information, usually from Google and Wikipedia. Occasionally, if I have to, I'll go into a textbook and I'll screenshot something using the screenshot tool, shove it into Notion, and so I've got that information if I need it. Other ways of doing it back in the day when I was in med school and before Notion was the thing, I used to use Microsoft OneNote for this. I would take notes by hand in class, I would scan them into Microsoft OneNote because at the time it didn't have an iPad, so I was writing on paper. I would scan them into Microsoft OneNote and then it would result in the pages being vertically down the page. But because Microsoft OneNote it has an infinite horizontal canvas, it means if I needed to expand on anything, I could horizontally expand on it as much as I needed to. The main topic would be in the notes and then I could expand horizontally if I needed to get histopathology slide or get a diagram or get anything off Google Images just to help consolidate my understanding of the thing. Lots my friends, including me, when we were in our first year of med school, we were like, "Okay, at the end of every lecture, I need to make notes on the lecture and then I need to revise from my notes. The people who did this, unless they were working like many hours a day, it became unsustainable because most of the stuff that we were tested on, was coming directly from our lecture notes. The extra stuff that we were adding wasn't that useful, it was helpful for our understanding, but I think it was this fundamental misunderstanding that we have to take notes from the lecture, and we absolutely do not have to take notes on the lecture for it to work. I remember in like the Easter holidays before our exams, I would have friends being like, "Oh my god, I've still got 84 lectures to take notes on, and only then can I stop my revision." That always seem to sit not very well with me because even then I thought that, "This whole taking notes from lecture's thing is possibly a little bit pointless." I think in fairness, it does depend on what subject you're doing. For example, in medicine, which is entirely based on memorizing a torrent of information, there's hundreds of revision resources out there, and there's so much stuff on the Internet, that there's almost no need for us to make our own revision notes. But if you're studying something like history, or geography, or English literature, where you're having to consolidate information from multiple sources to build up some novel understanding on novel picture. Then I can completely understand you obviously do need to take notes because it's unfeasible to go straight back to the source material. You can't go back to the table in order to get some key points from it. It's helpful to take notes on that front. Take this with a pinch of salt, most of my experiences based on doing medicine. I made note and notes when I was doing psychology, which was an entirely essay based subject. But another key point here is, when I was doing psychology, what I did is that instead of taking notes on the lecture, instead I would take notes on specific essay titles. There is some evidence about this that when we have a specific aim and we're learning stuff to fulfill that aim, are you writing an essay? Then stuff is more likely to stick in our brains better than if we're just saying, "Okay, now I need to learn lecture number 7 in pathology." That would be one thing that I would do even if I was doing an art subject like Psychology, or English, or History. I would focus on tackling the question in an essay or whatever, rather than taking notes on the lecture. But anyway, going back to the main point, I said the point number 1 was that, taking notes after class is semi-useful in that it helps build up the picture to consolidate our understanding of it. The second reason were taking notes after class that's helpful is because similar to in the previous video, we can use the Cornell Note-taking system to write questions for ourselves. For example, if we've taken notes in class, then we can look at those notes after class and think, "Okay, what are the different questions that I can make from this?" Let's say we've taken notes on how aquaporins work in cell membranes, or the structure of cell membrane biosynthesis, or the discovery of cell membranes or whatever. I'm thinking about cell membranes because I recently did a Notion video about that, and that was tough in my mind. Let's say we've got notes and all that stuff, the notes themselves are pointless because we don't want to just be rereading the notes. What we want to do is, we want to create questions for ourselves based on the notes. Again, what I do is I use Notion, and I used the toggle feature of notions to write a question for myself. One of the questions might be, what is the function of the cell membrane? Within that I would write my notes on the cell membrane, but I would hide them, so the only way I can see the notes on the cell membrane is if I've already looked at the question first. Then I'll make it a point that whenever I see a question in my notes, I actually think about how will I answer this question, which is active recall in action, the Feynman Technique in action if it's a concept that I can explain to someone else. But ensures that, I'm not just passively reading the notes, I'm actually actively dredging information up for my brain, which coming back to our main point, the thread that runs through this entire class is that the more effort for learning is, the more likely we are to make the information stick. Going back to the topic of this video, taking notes after class, I think as a matter of expanding using multiple sources to improve our understanding. Secondly, making sure that we've written active recall questions for ourselves in one way or another to help actually consolidate information to help use active recall to retrieve it from our brains and to help that information stick. At that point, when we're going through our notes, we could even if we wanted to, we could turn it into flashcards if we're using a flashcard app. We'll talk a lot more about flashcards in the remember section, because there's a few pitfalls people can run into with flashcards. But that was taking notes after class. Hope you found that video helpful. Point number 1, expand the sources to include multiple sources and understand the topic better. Point number 2, please, let's write questions for ourselves so that we can actually use active record rather than passively reading. Thanks for watching, and I'll see you in the next video. 8. Scoping the Subject: Let's now talk about this thing called scooping the subject and I think this is one of the most important mantras, I first learned it from a friend of mine in med school who used to do very well in exams, I'm sure he still does if he takes exams to this day, but he coined the phrase scooping the subject. Basically the idea is that in order to understand something, we need to understand where it fits in into the wider picture and there's a phrase that I really like that I used a lot in this course which is, we don't want to miss the forest from the trees. It can be so easy when we're in the day-to-day studying of school, university, whatever it can be so easy to focus on the detail to focus on. I've got to get through lecture 7 of pathology and lecture 9 of physiology now. If we don't take the time to do it, it can be so easy to just forget what the bigger picture is and I really used to have this problem so when I first started out in my fourth year of med school, we started out in clinical medicine and I had this idea that it was going to memorize the Oxford Handbook of clinical medicine, which is one of the cortex that we had to use. For some reason I had this terrible idea that I was just going to flip to random pages and if I did that enough, then over time I'd memorize the whole thing. Clearly this is completely terrible because there was no understanding there, it was pure memorization and there was no way for me to hang details on the skeleton and that's how I think about it today. Either hanging details on a skeleton of the outline, or thinking about it as like a tree, understanding a tree, and then understanding the branches, and then understanding the leaves so we don't want to be focusing on the leaves or the branches, we want to be looking at the tree and thinking about where the branches are going off of the tree. That's part of what scooping the subject is, it's about taking a few hours to literally go through every single topic within our subject and try and sub categorized the different topics. For example, in medicine let's say I'm doing hematology rather than diving into glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency and try to work through it in alphabetical order which is utterly ridiculous but often in medical textbooks they present stuff in alphabetical order which just does not make any sense at all. Instead of doing it like that, instead about taking a step back and having like a bird's eye view of what is hematology about and if we look at hematology from a bird's eye view we can start seeing, there's only really three topics in hematology. We've got anemia, we've got coagulation, and we've got cancer and within hematology almost everything can be split up into either anemia, coagulation or cancer and then we can go, that's interesting. Then we've got a few lymphomas we could have here leukemias, we've got the myeloproliferative disorders, we've got myelodysplastic syndrome, all of these things can go into the cancer category. Now, we've got the thermophiles and the coagulation disorders that can go under the clotting category. We've got microcytic normocytic, microcytic anemia, we've got thalassemia that can all go under the anemia category and we can think, that's amazing. I now understand like what the big picture of hematology is, I have scoped to the subject which means that when it comes to revising something like hemophilia for example, I know exactly where it fits into the bigger picture, or when it comes down hairy B-cell lymphoma, or chronic myeloid leukemia whatever, I know exactly where it fits into the bigger picture so that I'm not just focusing on the leaves. Am I'm looking at the leaf of chronic myeloid leukemia by understanding what branch it comes from and what general tree it comes from rather than just focusing on the detail. I think that's really important and this is something that I recommend to my physiology students these days that they do at the start of every lecture series like instead of thinking about lecture one, lecture two, lecture three, lecture four, think about it as cool. ''We're doing cardiovascular physiology now. Let me just look through all of the lectures even before we start with the lectures, just to see what the different subheadings are,'' and now this is something that I do in notion so in fact, I'm just going to show you now. So this is what my cardiovascular physiology notion page looks like and basically I have scoped to the subject by converting my entire lecture notes into the sub headings so I know all the different lectures in this. I know that we've got lecture 3 is the topic and 8 is the lecture within the topic. Capillary flowing pressure, I know it's got capillaries, capillary exchange of solutes, capillary exchange of water during filtration re-absorption. [inaudible] and congestive cardiac failure like I've screwed this subject, I know that those are the things within that particular lecture and then I scope the whole subject and the subject as a whole by knowing what the different lectures are within it. Crucially I made this list of things even before I started going over lecture 1 because it just gives me more of an understanding of where staff fits in so that when we are talking about the fetal circulation and we're talking about the oxygen dissociation curve for hemoglobin, instead of just being focused on that leaf I see that the bronchus fetal circulation and the branch of that is why we need a circulation in the overview of it and that's in general part of the tree of cardiovascular physiology. The reason I'm going on about this so much is because this is something that I used to do when I was in secondary school and early on in university because no one had told me that you should do this, that before starting to learn a subject, or even before starting to be even taught a subject you should actually go through the whole subject and figure out what the subheadings are. But then since I started doing it I found that now when I'm learning details I can appreciate the bigger picture, I can appreciate the bird's eye view and there's an analogy I like in medicine which I'm sure applies to other subjects as well which is that you've got the bird's eye view and then you've got the frog's eye view. The annoying thing is that most of the exams test us on the frog's eye view like that nitty-gritty money share detail but actually the bird's eye view is the thing that's important for A, helping us understand the subject and B, at Eastern medicine for helping us actually apply it in real life. Because really in real life as a doctor we never really think about the intricacies of how the receptors work, whereas that was what we were tested on in medical school we just think about the broad picture. Starting off with a broad picture and then narrowing down is I think a much better way than that mistake that we all make of starting with the details and then forgetting losing the forest from the trees so that's what I'll say about scoping the subject. Thanks for watching and I'll see you in the next video. Bye, bye. 9. The Importance of Understanding: Hi guys. This is a bonus segment within the class and it's all about the importance of understanding. This isn't really like cool materials, so feel free to skip ahead to the next video if you're really rushed for time. But this is a conversation that I had with my friend Asaid. He is currently a final year medical student at Cambridge University. He consistently ranked in the top three in the year group for the last several years. He's really, really good at taking exams. Obviously, because he's a Cambridge, he absolutely smashed his GCSEs and his A levels. He's been using this knowledge of effective studying to really absolutely smash these exams. He found out about these techniques. In this video, we're talking about the importance of understanding. I stopped asking him what it actually means to understand something. When you understand something, it's a lot easier to retain. I think more generally, and I think it's part of how I study. I really struggled to bring myself to simply memorize details with having any understanding. Not because I can't do it. In fact, to a certain degree in second year, I did do that to some extent, but it just doesn't feel right to me. I have this nagging feeling inside of me to really understand what's going on. How do you define understand like, how do you know you've understood something? I suppose for me, it's about coherence within my mind. If there aren't any unexplained questions that I have left on the topic, then I'll consider it understood. If I can derive the topic through some basic first principles within my mind, I feel as if I understood it. I guess it's different to other people who feel like they've understood it when they can say explain it, that wasn't necessarily what I used. It was more about internal coherence. But what's the difference between internal coherence and being able to explain it? I ask, because often my proxy for do I understand something, what I feasibly be able to explain this to a five-year-old. I feel like for me what I haven't told coherence, it means I can be like, "Okay, well, if you, if you lose 20 percent of your blood volume, then that happens and therefore that happens, and that happens." It's a chain of events in my mind. Absolutely. I think the gold standard is being able to explain it to a five-year-old. That really indicates like quite in depth conceptual clarity. However, you can't always necessarily have that. I think especially in physiology and neurophysiology, there are some quite complex concepts that you need to understand. For quite a few of them, there will be times where I'll understand them for seconds at a time and then lose understanding. I know the method I need to re-understand them. I know the diagram that will make me understand them again. But usually because the concepts are quite complex, sometimes I'll only be understanding them whilst contemplating the diagram either on paper or in my mind. Then once you've understood that, you are then happy to just remember it for the exam because you know that at one point, you had that moment of clarity wherever it all made sense. Even then I wouldn't necessarily just correlate remembering a random fact or anything like that without meaning. I'll remember how I came to understand it and I usually if I need to be able to work out how to understand it again. I guess that's probably a bit more relevant in neurophysiology than say physiology because it has perhaps the most advanced concepts within medicines and the most abstract concepts which really seem very diverse from things you'll find in every day life. Such that unless you get a mental image built-up where you're imagining the circuits all at once. It's quite difficult to really remember what's going on. But what you can remember is a basic outline which you can reconstruct in your mind and somewhat run as a model. Understanding of subject is like having a mental model on that subject and your mind. Absolutely, yeah. To some extent, you can explain, but to those to a five-year-old, but to some extent as as the as you're saying, it's just there, you probably could if you had to put all the time and effort to figure out how to simplify down to a five-year-old, but it's unsustainable to do that for everything. I guess the one example I could give. I'm currently doing supervisions in neurophysiology for the second-year students. The next supervision that I'm planning to give is on memory, specifically on the role of the hippocampus. As far as it's told in the course, everyone knows that the hippocampus is involved in memory. If you have damage to the hippocampus, it interferes with your ability to form new memories and sometimes you lose old memories as well. But the reason for that isn't quite clear. I remember learning and understanding back in second year that the way the hippocampus works is that it works as an index. It doesn't store memories, but it just like an index in a book, documents where in the cortex the memories are stored. If you ever want to read some of a memory, it can recruit all the parts of the cortex that are needed at the same time. Now, there's a very specific circuit structure which allows that to take place within the hippocampus. I don't remember that at the moment. It would take a while for me, probably half an hour to really work through the diagram and re-understand it. But because I know that basic concept that the hippocampus is working like an index and that there are these basic neurological principles like neurons that fire together, wire together. I can basically use those guiding principles to re-understand what I understood in second year. That was the chat that he and I had as part of a much wider discussion about study tips, but we've included that bit in the class and the rest of it you can find on my YouTube channel or elsewhere. We'll put links in the video, in the project and resources area, to more links about a similar topic. But that's basically the idea of understanding and building this mental model of the subjects within our mind. I hope you found that useful. Thanks for watching and I'll see you in the next video. 10. Finding a Syllabus for Yourself: Hello. This is another bonus segment, and in this video, me and Assad are discussing the idea of developing a syllabus for your subject. This is particularly important in subjects where you are more rely on understanding than you are in memorization because if you have a list of things to memorize then, fair enough, you memorize a list of things. But if you need to understand concepts or if the outline of what you need to know for your exam or for your studies isn't quite clear, it's very important that we create our own syllabus. In this video, Assad and I are discussing this concept a little bit further. I think in every case where you have such uncertainty, I think you need to find a syllabus for yourself. I think it's really counterproductive to not have a limit on what you're learning and there's always a tendency to try and expand the resources that you're using because other people use different resources and they will know things that you don't know. You have the opposite handbook, but there might be some rogue fattened, the big pathology textbook and I will going to do each of those. Absolutely. I mean, for me, for instance, I made the step one textbook my curriculum. Definitely, I didn't have everything. I have to supplement it with other things including past medicine. But that combination was incredibly comprehensive. Yes, there were things I didn't know despite learning much of those. But I think you have to accept the fact that you can't know everything and it's better to know a lot well than stress yourself into trying to achieve something which you can't really do. Yeah, and I think that's a really important insight that actually it's impossible to know everything. Therefore, what's the big chunk of information that you will know and what's the sliver of information that you don't need to worry about. Yeah. The more we simplify it in a way, the easier it becomes. Yeah. I was having a chat with a student from UCL a couple of days ago. He was in his fourth year and he was saying that, "Yeah, it just seems so much information. I don't know what to use. I don't know if I should use Kumar and Clark, Oxford Handbook, I don't know if I should use Scott's UCL notes that had been propagated throughout the Internet. I don't know what to do." It seemed like the advice that resonated with him when I gave it was that he was thinking of clinical medicine as he was making it harder than it had to be. Realistically, all you basically have to know is what's in the Oxford Handbook and then a few extra bits maybe to get a few extra miles in medicine. Yeah. If you can find yourself to that, you actually realize that, well, within cardiology, there's only 15 topics. Within respiratory, there's only eight topics. It becomes much manageable. Yeah. I mean, I will say the Oxford Handbook is really poor in terms of explaining things. It's just a list of information. It just tells you the stuff rather than to help you understand the stuff. For that reason, I pretty much didn't use the Oxford Handbook at all during my clinical years. In the US, submarine material was relatively a lot better explained. Is it like first aid step 1, for example? Absolutely. Yeah. I think again, the key is to take one or to take a few sets of resources, it might just be one thing or a couple of things, and make it your canon and really master that. Would you make notes on those things to compile into a master note? No, I wouldn't. Again, it's pointless because you've got the information there. As in it is just with the lecture notes in first and second year. Yeah. But there's no point, you're just making redundant notes. In third year, when I was doing essays and theology and philosophy, whenever I was doing essays I'd have a big reading list. These topics again were highly abstract. It would usually take quite a while before I really understood what was going on. In each of those cases, I found that if I could just take one book, one of those books, and make it the key to my understanding, really understand that book in detail, I had to read it maybe three times in order to really understand what was going on. When I got to that stage, I could skim read the rest of the books and basically top up the foundational concepts that I had and that would be really easy. Whereas I think if I'd read every book in town, I would have had a much more superficial understanding. Yeah. Make one book your Bible and the rest are supplementary texts? Absolutely. If you learn the Bible, the supplementary texts you can get through very quickly. That was a bit of discussion on how you can find a syllabus for yourself. I hope you found that very useful. Thank you for watching and I'll see you in the next video. 11. The Magic of Spaced Repetition: All right. Welcome to the second segment of the course which is about remembering. Segment number 1 or step 1 was understand, step 2 is remember, and as a reminder, step 3 is focus. We'll talk a lot more back in a destructions, and motivations, and procrastination, all that stuff in the focus segment. But now we're going to be diving into all of the evidence-based tips for remembering/memorizing things. But again, just to reiterate, understanding is the most important part, and without understanding, there's literally no point in memorizing or remembering stuff because we're just making more work for ourselves. The knowledge is more fragile that way if it's just bits that we remember rather than bits that we actually understand and we can apply to our lives. Step 1 is always understand but step 2 is remember. In this video, we're going to be talking about spaced repetition. If you've heard me talk at nausea about space repetition over the last few years of being on YouTube, then please feel free to skip this video because there's nothing new here. I'm just rehashing old content as it were. But it's really important because while active recall is the single most important aspect of efficient studying, space repetition is the second most important aspect of efficient studying. What's the problem here that we're trying to solve? As I mentioned in the previous section, what we're trying to do is we're trying to combat the forgetting curve. In the 1800s, there was a chap called Ebbinghaus who did a study on himself where he made himself memorize all these random words that he just kind of made up. He tested how quickly and how often he forgot what these words were. He realized that as soon as he learned a word, his memory for that word decayed exponentially over time. But if he interrupted that forgetting by testing himself on the word again and then looking it up. He interrupted that covered, and then he went back up to a 100 percent. But then he found that crucially it took him longer to forget it the second time around. But then when he forgot a little bit and he studied again, it took him even longer still. While the decay is very precipitous to begin with, the more times you repeat a topic, the longer it then takes me to forget that information. This is the key insight that the whole of the industry and the algorithms around space repetition are based around, it's this idea that the more we repeat stuff, the longer it takes to forget it. But the longer it takes to forget it means that we should space all repetitions of that topic overtime. Let's say, we're studying a topic on day 1. Let's say we've studied, firewood function tests or the thyroid. Just keep the thyroid, just keep it simple. Let's say we study the thyroid on like today, by tomorrow we'll probably have forgotten about 50 percent of it, and by three days we'd forgotten like all of it because it decays exponentially in the early stages. Let's see, we revise it again tomorrow. Now our learning for it goes back to backup to a 100 percent. But now it takes, let's say, a week to forget 50 percent of it. Then in a week we come back to it and we study it. Then let's say takes a month to forget 50 percent of it. We repeated it like a day, a week, and a month later, but at spaced intervals and that's the idea behind spaced repetition. When I first discovered space repetition, it was again in the second year medical school lecture on psychology, which was all about the psychology of effective learning. This was one of the concepts that when we first heard about it in that lecture, everyone was looking around in wonder at one another because we were like, "Oh my God, this is absolutely game-changing." Because in the past I always tried to make like this revision timetables, but I just never really appreciated the fact that just by virtue of the way memory works, my memory for everything was just going to decay exponentially over time. Once I discovered the power of spaced repetition, I realized that I could scientifically choose when to revise certain things to maximize the chances that I'm going to retain them. What's also apply here is this idea that theme that runs through this entire class, which is that the more effortful learning feels, the harder we have to work to learn something or to retrieve something, the more likely that information is to stick. That's it how to read about the thyroid today and then an hour later and then an hour later. Reading it like three times in one day would be a little bit pointless because I haven't forgotten any of it. I haven't allowed myself to forget any of it. Therefore, my brain is not working to retain that information or to retrieve that information instead of just a passive process. Again, like we've said many times before, whenever learning anything, or studying, or revision becomes passive, like playing the guitar and we just kind of bashing up passively to songs we already know, we are not learning anything at all. It's when learning is hard, like when we're playing those new chords or that new fingering or whatever, it sounds weird. In the guitar or the piano, it's when it's difficult that we actually learn and we can consolidate information. It's the same with learning anything for exams or whatever you're learning. The more difficult it is, the more strongly that information is going to stick, and I will keep on repeating that every single video pretty much. But the idea behind space repetition is that we allow ourselves to forget some of it, and we don't beat ourselves up for forgetting it because we know that's a natural part of learning. We allow ourselves to forget some of it, and so when we retrieve that information with active recall and revise the subjects, it means that we are working harder for it. Therefore, that information is more likely to stick. Anyway, that's what I'm going to say on that front. I will put a link to my YouTube video here in the video description somewhere. If you're interested in the evidence behind space repetition, I've got like a 25 minute long video where I break down some of the actual studies they've done that show the power of space repetition. If you're not sold on it, just based on what I'm telling you in the camera, if that's fine, you can watch that video and that will give you a lot more information. But now let's move on to talk about some of the ways in which we can practically apply the concept of spaced repetition, tour and studying to supercharge our productivity and to make sure we remember the stuff that we need to remember. Thanks for watching, and I'll see you in the next video. 12. The Retrospective Revision Timetable: We've talked about why spaced repetition is an absolutely amazing thing, and hopefully or maybe not, you might have seen my YouTube video where I talk about the evidence behind spaced repetition in a lot more detail. Let's now talk about some of the methods for applying spaced repetition to our studying. My personal favorite way of doing this is by using the retrospective revision timetable. Now, this is a term that I've coined. It's basically a revision timetable, but instead of deciding in advance what topics we are going to do in any given day, we decide on the day, based on what topics we've done in the past, and how effective our recall of that topic was. Now, I've done an entire YouTube video talking about this with some fancy animations, and lots of iPad screen drawings and stuff. So I know this a part of an online class, but I am just going to include the YouTube video right here, because if you haven't seen it, then I think I can't really explain it any better now. I also can't be bothered to do the iPad animations for absolutely everybody here because I've already done that before. So you're not going to see me from the past to talking about the retrospective revision timetable, then at the end of that day, I'll talk to you about how I do that in notion these days cause I don't use Google Sheets for that anymore. But here is the YouTube video that I did a few months ago talking about the retrospective revision timetable. Prospective means looking forward, and retrospective means looking back. What most people think of as a revision timetable tends to be prospective, so it tends to look something like this. You've got your dates down one column, and then you've got the topics that you're going to revise each day in your rows. The idea is, when you're making these, you'd predict in advance, what kind of topics you want to be doing. But this method has some problems. I used to use this when I was a pre GCSE, but I recognized quite early on that it was being quite inefficient. There's four main problems that I used to have with this method. So firstly, this method requires us to, in a way, prophecy, look into the future, and workout six weeks in advance, what topics we're going to be struggling most with six weeks from now. This for me was always tricky, because there were always random days where something would pop up, and I'd be going out with some friends or sitting at home doing a raid on World of Warcraft. I just wouldn't follow my study timetable. Or if I did follow it to a T, I'd realize that actually I'm repeating subjects pointlessly, or more often than not, I just wouldn't end up following it at all. Secondly, I think a problem with this method is that it encourages us implicitly to think of revision as something that is a function of time, rather than a function of topics. So we've got the time axis down our main access. Therefore, everyday we think, okay, it's the 7th of April, I'm going to consult my revision timetable, and I'm going to therefore revise these three topics. That's not really how studying should be done. I realized this later that I think it's better to think of it in terms of topics, rather than in terms of time. So instead of thinking that each day I need to get three topics done. Instead, I'll be thinking in terms of subjects and in terms of topics, and thinking that by the end of the exam period, I want to know everything about every topic. Therefore, what do I need to do for that to take place? This is going to sound a bit abstract, but I'll explain it in more detail when we explain the retrospective timetable, you'll hopefully see that that method solves this particular problem. Thirdly, with this standard prospect of revision timetable, there's no real way of seeing how much of each subject you know. Important reading past papers, and apart from having your own separate record, like if I were to glance this list, and it's the 10th of April, I can see that, okay, well, I studied physics, electricity on the 4th, but I mean, do I know the topic? Are there any other topics in physics? There's no easy way of me seeing an overview of the subject, and therefore working out exactly what I need to learn. Finally, there's the whole thing of actually creating one of these timetables in the first place. I always used to view this as an activity in procrastination. I'd be like, okay, I need to get some work done. You know what, I've not made my revision timetable for the year yet. I'm going to sit down and get all my pretty colors out back in the day before the iPad Pro existed in the Apple Pencil wasn't a thing. Got my pretty colored highlighters out, my felt-tip pens and make this fancy big revision timetable, and I would never follow it equally. I had some friends who would regard the revision timetable as such an insurmountable thing that they have to do before they started studying that it put them off studying for a period of weeks to months because they had to sit down and make this timetable, and I just couldn't get around to overcoming the activation energy required to make one of these. So those are just some problems with the prospect of revision timetable. These are all just my thoughts. Maybe it works for you, but I'll explain what the retrospective revision timetable looks like now, and hopefully you might be able to take something away from that to make your own studying a little bit more efficient. A retrospective revision timetable looks something like this. As you can see, we've got the topics within Physiology, the six different topics, we've got those down the main axis of our spreadsheet, and this is the exact opposite to how it is with the prospect of revision timetable, where we had the dates down the front. So let's say it's the 4th of April, and I've arbitrarily studied the heart and the kidneys, using my retrospective revision timetable, I'm going to note the fact that I studied the heart and the kidneys on the 4th of April. Then let's say it's the 5th of April, I look at my retrospective sheet and I see, oh, I haven't revised the lungs yet, why don't I do that? So I do that. Then on the 6th and the 7th, I do the rest of the topics, because I see that they're blank and I haven't done them yet. Now, let's say it's the 8th of April, and I know that I need to revise physiology. I look down my list and think, so it's been about four days since I've done the heart and the kidneys, and I vaguely reckon that kidneys are a little bit harder. So I'm going to go for the kidneys, and then I revise the kidneys on the 8th of April. But because I'm a good student and I'm using effective study techniques, I'm not just going to read my notes on the kidneys because that would be a complete waste of time, instead, I'm going to be using active recall. Hopefully, when I studied the kidneys on the 4th of April, I wrote down a long list of questions for myself that I could answer, or I got some past papers from somewhere, or I found an essay plan with essay questions, this sort of stuff. Either way, I'm using active recall, I've got the book closed, and I'm trying to answer all the questions that I previously wrote for myself about the kidneys. Then I get some stuff wrong, so I look it up. I'd say overall, I judge that I'm reasonably okay at the kidneys but not perfect, so I'm going to highlight that in yellow. This is the classic traffic light method of color-coding. Now, let's say it's the 9th of April, and I think you know what, why don't I do the heart because it's been a while since I've done that, so the heart on the 9th of April, and then having answered the active recall questions that I set for myself on the previous time I studied it on the 4th, I think, you know what, I'm actually pretty good at the heart, so I'm going to color that in green. Fantastic. I'm just going to fill in some random dates. Hopefully, you can see how I've done that here. Now, let's say it's the 13th of April, and I'm thinking, you know what, I should revise some physiology. I look down this list, and I see that, okay, well, it's been a while since I studied the kidneys. But the kidneys are yellow, and actually, even though I studied the lungs on the 10th of April, they were red at the time. So you know what, I'm going to prioritize the lungs, but the question I'm going to be asking myself each day is, if the exam were tomorrow, which topic would I be least happy about? Currently, I'm least happy about lungs, which is why I'm going to revise them on the April the 13th. I'm going to color code those in yellow afterwards because I think, I'm now at a yellow level when it comes to the lungs. Now let's say it's April 14th, and I'm thinking, "Great, I don't have any reds left on this list. Why don't I revise the kidneys, because it's been the longest time since I've done that. This is Spaced Repetition in action and I revise the kidneys and I'm pretty good at the kidneys. That becomes green. As you can see, over time, we develop this understanding of every single topic within our subject. Because each day we are tackling the thing that we find most difficult. We're not doing that thing with the prospect of revision timetable where we're studying a topic because we told ourselves we'd study that topic six weeks ago. We're studying the topic that we have decided we are weakest on. Therefore, every time we have a study session, we are working on a weakest point and therefore getting the most bang for our buck in terms of revising efficiently and trying to maximize our marks in the exam, and on knowledge for day-to-day life. The idea is that hopefully by the end of it, as the exam approaches, you look at physiology and think you know what everything is a green on this, I know Physiology. You'd look at anatomy and think so got a few areas of yellow. I'm going to screw physiology for today. I don't care about it, I'm going to focus on anatomy because those are my weak areas. This gives you a very easy way of seeing a whole overview of your subject without having to predict anything in advance because we are terribly bad at predicting the future. Finally, one great thing about this is that it doesn't really take any effort to get started beyond initially scooping the subject and just writing down the list of every single topic in your spreadsheet. I think that in itself is an incredibly valuable exercise, because a subject can often seem very daunting until you write down all the topics that are in it, and then you think, "Well, physiology seems complicated?" But actually there's only really six topic. Great. I can do six topics, that's like one topic a day. I've got eight weeks until my exams. I can repeat every single topic eight times, that's pretty incredible. I can learn all of Human Physiology, and that's a nice attitude to have rather than being in the dark and be like, "I need to revise some chemistry." But not really sure what's revised, you don't really know what's in it, and the specification has 85 different points of view and whatever. This is the retrospective revision timetable. Now let's jump into Google Sheets and I will show you how that works in real life by using an example from my third year of university. This here is the retrospective revision timetable that I used in my third year of university. That was the year that I did by far the best in. I won the prize for the best exam performance that year when I was studying psychology, which was pretty awesome. I think the reason that happened was because I very aggressively used all of the most efficient study techniques active recall, space repetition, spider diagrams, flashcards, and I'll be making a video at a later date, about exactly how I memorized 50 different essays to absolutely smash those exams, if I can say so myself. Anyway, this is the Google Sheet, and as you can see, I've got it split up into section A, section B, section C, which corresponds to our three papers within psychology, and as you can see, I've got a list of all the topics down one end, and the dates in the other one. Taking a look at this, we can see that on the 20th of April I did these four topic. I did implicit versus explicit memory, recollection versus familiarity, semantic versus episodic memory, and short-term memory versus long-term memory, and these are essay based things, but I'll talk more about exactly how I studied these particular topics in that video that I've mentioned a little bit earlier. Anyway, the point is I've done all these on the 20th of April and then are repeated the top 1, implicit versus explicit on the 22nd, and then I had a bit of a gap, and then on the 12th of May, I repeated it again and then I started color-coding it because it was like, "I'm getting close to the exam now. I should start color-coding my stuff." You can see that over time, everything has become green, and Saturday was like the Saturday before the exam. Tuesday was the Tuesday before, I think the exam was on a Wednesday or Thursday, something like that. Over time, I've repeated this topics like the top essay, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7. I repeated it seven times. This was all active record base repetition. It was me drawing out my spider diagram over and over again until I could do it from memory, until I could basically write out any essay you gave me an implicit versus explicit memory. I could cite ten papers in that essay, and all because I used active or equal and spaced repetition to repeat it seven times until the point where it was green before the exam. We can see I've done the same thing for Section B. This was all about animal cognition, comparative cognition, how the thinking of animals defers to the thinking of humans. Theory of Mind, future planning, meta-cognition, do animals navigate using cognitive maps? Do animals understand causality? What's the difference between human and animal language? Finally, section C, which is my personal favorite, was all the various things about intelligence and IQ. For example, sex differences in IQ are controversial, not even race differences in IQ, even more controversial, very exciting topic, and then a little bit of stuff about personality, whether there are any genes that influence personality, but who cares, that's all psychology. The point is, 21st of April, 2nd of May, 12th of May, 30th of May, the Saturday before the Friday before, that stuff, and over time, the stuff has become green because it means I know all of it. This is the retrospective revision timetable created in Google sheets. It's very straightforward list of topics down the A column and then the date that you revise the topic, ideally color-coded based on how well you knew it before you looked at your book on along the rows, and that's really all the rest to it. Hopefully, this video has explained why I think that the retrospective revision timetable is better, in my opinion, more effective, more efficient way of studying than the prospect revision timetable, the books downward revision timetable that we all implicitly get taught from a young age. Just to summarize, the main reasons why I think it's good are firstly, it means you don't have to prophecies into the future because that is impossible. Secondly, it means that you see an overview of all your topics. Thirdly, it encourages you to think of your studying in terms of topics rather than in terms of time, because it doesn't really matter how long something takes, all that matters is that by the end you know everything rather than, "I'm going to do my three topics a day for 20 days." It doesn't matter what happens by the end of it. Focusing on it in terms of topics, helps understand stuff. Fourthly, it's so easy to make one of these spreadsheets, you don't have to spend the cognitive effort of thinking six weeks into the future and trying to imagine yourself at that point and how many subjects need to do instead, or you have to do is write down the topics and you can just get cracking with your revision. Thank you very much for watching. That was my video from a few months ago about the retrospective revision timetable, and this is what I still use to this day when I need to study for exams. I've got my postgraduate medical exams coming up, and I'm extensively using the retrospective revision timetable. But I will just show you how I actually use that in Notion these days. In Notion it's basically the same thing, I just don't like Google sheets anymore because I've started using notion for everything. Here we go. This is home, home stands for homeostasis, which is Human Physiology in the Cambridge course, and this is what I've done retrospective revision timetable wise. You can see we've got the topic of nerves, and then on the 1st of January I did that for the first time and then on the 7th of January and then on the 20th of Feb, and there's different ways that we can rate our understanding of it. When I was using Google Sheets, I will just color in the cell. I don't know that the coloring feature. Unfortunately, in Notion you can't color in the cells of a table. Instead, usually, if I'm not feeling fancy, I just rate it out of five. This one was a three out of five, four out of five and five out five. But sometimes if I'm feeling fancy, I'll traffic light it with emojis. You can use red, yellow, green, whatever, or you can use stars like two-star, four-star, five-star. But essentially it's exactly the same thing. It just lets me see on a given day what topic I want to study. For example, today is the 28th of February, I think, 27th to February, I'd have done renal and respiratory recently. I did nerves last in the 20th of Feb. I'll probably do that one again. Actually, no, probably do renal again. That takes it up to three repetitions of renal. We'll do 27th of Feb there. Hopefully, then that might be like a three out of five. I think I've done it three times recently. Hopefully, four out of five. The next time I go come around to studying physiology, I can decide based on the retrospective revision timetable exactly what I want to be doing. That's one way of going about how to incorporate spaced repetition. In the next video, we'll talk about my friend Simon Clocks alternative method called Space Repetition Diary, which is an alternative method to this method. I still prefer mine, but other people might prefer his. We've included that as well. Thanks for watching and I'll see you in the next video. 13. Simon Clark’s Spaced Repetition Journal: In the last video, we talked about my retrospective revision timetable method for incorporating spaced repetition into my life. But a few weeks ago, I was talking to my friend Simon Clark. We were doing a collab video on YouTube, and he mentioned his method of doing this, which is called the Spaced Repetition Journal or Spaced Repetition Diary. We included this in the YouTube video, but I will include the uncut conversation between me and Simon in this course now, so you can see us discussing this concept of the Spaced Repetition Diary. You'll hear Simon explaining how this method works. I get that some people like the idea of pre-deciding what they're going to study because it makes sense that on a given day, you don't really have to think about it. You can just execute on the plan that you've already made. I think Simon's method is a good way of building a revision timetable but based on the principle of spaced repetition rather than doing it randomly, like how I used to do when I was in school. Here is now me and Simon talking about his Spaced Repetition Diary. If I could travel back in time and slap two words into 10-year-old Simon's head, they would be spaced repetition. I cannot stress enough how important this technique is. To give you an example, when I was doing my third-year exams at Oxford, it was the best academic performance of my academic career. It really went well. I think the reason for it was I used this technique, where I would on a given day if I studied a particular subject, write in a paper diary, I did on say the 1st of May, atomic physics, looking at particular subtopic. I then go forward today and write down that topic again. Go forward a week, write that topic. Go forward a month and write that topic. Then as you went through your revision, you gradually populated this diary with the revision that you needed to go back and look at on a given day. You get to say I don't know, May 14th, and you would say, "Well, I now need to revise atomic physics, this part general relativity, this part of subatomic physics." You would have a ready-made checklist of stuff to go over again, as well as the stuff that you had to look forward to in your revision plan. It meant that I covered everything several times at these increasing intervals, and it just stayed in my head so much better, but it was the ease at which I could walk up to the library, open up my diary and say, "Right, what's today? It's the 14th of May. Okay. I've got these five topics to do first, let's go." It just made life so much easier. I did so much better because of it. That was Simon Clark's perspective at Spaced Repetition Diaries/Journal thing. I think it's pretty good. I might try and actually start experimenting with that myself. Because at least for me, when I learn stuff on the wards, I work these days in the hospital, it's often very serendipitous. It's not like I'm deciding on a given day that I'm going to learn something. It's more that a patient happens to come in who's had, I don't know, an ectopic pregnancy or a heterotopic pregnancy or anything interesting, I'm on obs and gynae at the moment. What I've been thinking is that Simon's method will be very good. Let's say on the 25th of February I read up about ectopic pregnancy management. Then if there were a way that I could add it to my calendar so that I would read up on it a week later, it would remind me to look up ectopic pregnancy. Then a month later, it would remind me to look up ectopic pregnancy. I think that would be a very effective way for me personally to ad hoc, use the power of spaced repetition and active recall to retain memory of stuff that I've learned on the wards. Because I'll be honest, when I'm not in exam preparation mode, I don't really use a lot of these efficient study and learning techniques even though I really should. I've been thinking for a while that if only there was a way to remind myself to study stuff in a spaced repetition fashion, I think I'm going to start using Simon Clark's method for that. I'll see if I can build some macro or shortcut on iOS or something that I just enter the subject once, and then it automatically creates a calendar event to remind me in a week's time and in a month's time and in a year's time maybe, to review that particular topic. We'll see about that. But anyway, that was Simon Clark's Spaced Repetition Journal/Diary. I hope you found that useful. Let's now move onto the next video. 14. The Power of Interleaved Practice: We spent a bit of time talking about space repetition, which is the idea that you leave time in between study sessions. Let's now talk about interleaving, which involves how you split up your time within one study session itself. Interleaving is the idea that we should mix up our practice as we go along within the same study session, because the idea is that, again, returning to the thread that's running through this whole course, that whenever stuff becomes too easy, whenever we're not working very hard, whenever our brain is lifting very light weights, then at that point we stop learning as effectively. The idea behind interleaving is that we do a little bit of one topic, and then a little bit of another topic, and a little bit of a third topic, and then back to the first rather than do three hours in one topic, three hours on Topic 2, and three hours on Topic 3 or whatever your timing ends up being. There's a fair bit of evidence that interleaving improves retention when it comes to studying for exams, but it also when it comes to learning anything. Again in the book, Make it Stick, which you don't have a physical copy of because it's everyday on Kindle, but you should definitely read that. They talk about this famous hockey coach. He gets his players to do certain exercises and then just as they're getting the hang of those exercises, he switches to them onto something else, and just as the get the hang of that, he switches them onto something else. The players don't really like this because they have to work a bit harder and just as they're approaching the mastery and they're like, "Oh yeah, I can do this, this makes sense," he move them onto something else. But he gets results and the teams end up winning a lot of stuff and the players, are happy for it in hindsight because they recognize that actually, it's only when stuff is difficult, that's when we're actually learning it. Like me, if I'm practicing the guitar, I try and tell myself that, okay, I'm going to do 10 minutes of code practice, 10 minutes of finger practice, 10 minutes of music theory. It ends up being half an hour of codes just because once I get the hang of it I'm like, oh yeah, this makes sense. Then I feel happy and then I stop playing songs they already know. But that's not the effective way of learning. What I should be doing is I should be interleaving my guitar practice, just like we should all be interleaving our practice of exam really and stuff. There's been lots of evidence about this when it comes to studying. Specifically when it comes to studying maths problems, that's what it seems a lot of the studies are based around. There was one I've got here from 2010 where they said, "The interleaving of practice, impaired practice session performance, i.e it made the actual study session more difficult, yet it doubled scores on a test given one day later." I.e it improved exam performance in the long-term, a long-term one day later. But there've been a lot of studies that cooperate this evidence. Basically, it feels really hard to switch up the topics during the study session. But whenever it feels hard, it's a sign that we're doing it right. When it feels easy, it's a sign that we're doing it wrong. That's the idea behind interleaving. In this study, they got students to practice for kinds of maths problems in an order that was either interleaved or blocked, 1, 2, 3, 4 or bit of one, bit of two, bit of three, bit of four and it kind of repeat. They found that the interleaving of practice impaired their performance on the day, but actually improved their performance on the test given a day later. The theory behind this, as they say in the study, is that when we are blocking stuff like, for example, if we're doing math problems and we're doing lots of the same problem at once, just changing the numbers. Our brain starts to take shortcuts. It starts to realize, Oh, okay, that's a method and then it just starts applying that method. But if we're doing different sorts of problems that are all mixed up, our brain has to take that initial step of thinking, okay, what method do I have to use to solve this problem? The very fact that our brain requires that extra step means that we're more likely to perform better on the exam, when the exam is given later on. How does that work for me? So when I'm studying medical stuff, what I do is I keep interleaving in line. So for example, if I'm studying physiology for the day and I'm spending a whole day reading physiology, probably bit sub-optimal class, I should probably split my time up between physiology, anatomy and biochemistry. But at the moment, it's my failure with physiology then focusing on. If I'm going to do physiology for a whole day, what I try and do is I'm trying to be like, okay, in the morning I'm going to start off with nerves and then in the afternoon on a bit of muscles and then I'll revise nerves a little bit with my active legal questions and then I'll go into some kidney stuff and then just as I've gotten about maybe half an hour to an hour on the kidney stuff, then I'll move on to the respiratory stuff and I try and interleave my practice of the stuff within that study session. Equally when I was preparing, for example, third year or second year medical school exams at Cambridge, we had loads of subjects that we had to prepare for. My technique was to memorize lots of different essay plans for the different subject. Like in the exam, we had to pick from five essays and we had to answer two, and I was hoping that if I prepared enough essays in advance, I'd have to come up in the exam that I knew how to do. But that meant that I was memorizing essays across all these different disciplines. What I was doing, kind of keeping interleaving into account because that was around the time that I discovered this technique. I would start off by memorizing a few essays with paper A and then go onto paper B and then paper C and then paper one, and then, for some reason it was 1A, B, C, D I don't know why. But I would try and incorporate interleaving into this because I knew that if I just repeated my spider diagrams of my, I don't know, comparative cognition essays. I knew that if I just did all of those in one session and that would probably be sub-optimal. That's how I personally use interleaving. I think it's just something worth keeping in the back of our minds that we want studying to be hard, like the analogy of going to the gym. You don't want it to be easy. If it's easy, then yeah, sure, you might be having fun, but you're not actually boosting your muscles. Just like if studying is easy, it might be a bit more fun, but we're not actually improving our brain performance. So yeah, that's interleaving. Let's move on to the next video. 15. Should You Re-Read Your Notes: Welcome back. Again, this is section 2 of this class. We'll be talking about how to remember stuff. In this video, I want to talk about the idea of rereading our notes. Now, there have been lots of studies that basically show, spoiler alert, that rereading is probably a waste of time. For example, that 2013 paper from Professor Dan Loskey and his colleagues, concluded that reading is low utility. He says, and I quote, ''When compared with some other learning techniques, re-reading is typically much less effective. The relative disadvantage of revealing to other techniques is the largest strike against rereading and is the factor that weighed most heavily in our decision to assign it a rating of low utility." That's a pretentious fancy way of saying that, rereading does work, but there are so many better things we could be doing instead like active recall and space repetition and stuff, and interleaving, and categorizing and things that we'll talk about more later. Reading does work, it obviously does work. I got through some of my GCC exams through just reading the notes and I've got friends who've gone through the medical school exams just by reading the notes. But I would argue that our success in these has been despite our study techniques rather than because of it. It's not because rereading is effective that we did well in the exams. It's because either we were just naturally intelligent or the subject was easier, whatever. But more of the story we probably shouldn't be rereading. There was another paper from 2016, where I'm quoting from, and it says, ''A wealth of research has shown that passive repetitive reading produces little or no benefit for learning. Yet, Not only was repetitive reading the most frequently listed strategy,'' They're either talking about, it was most frequently listed amongst strategies that students were using when they were surveyed. It was also the strategy most often listed as students number 1 choice. The context of this study is that the survey let the students asking them, ''Which study techniques do you use firstly? What is the most popular one that you use all the time? There was lots of people who said that they reread their notes and that was the Number 1 choice by a long way. I've got this evidence in my video about active recall if you want to look at the actual study in depth. But basically, we all love reading our notes, but rereading our notes is not very effective. Firstly, why do we enjoy reading our notes? Well, I think we enjoy reading our notes because A, it's easy and b it feels productive. When we're reading and especially when we're highlighting stuff or even summarizing as we're going along, we feel we're being productive. Highlighting pretty color then we're like, ''I read eight pages today,'' as if that's going to make a difference to anyone's life. We also like rereading because we really don't have to think too hard about it. You could be really tired at the end of the day, and you can be like, ''You know what? I'm going to read a chapter from physiology,'' and you could get your book out and you can read the chapter in physiology and you can think, ''Cool, I've done a good day's work.'' Put the book away and then completely forget it overnight because rereading, as we said, is passive and we want things to be difficult. We want our brain to have to work for that information because then it strengthens the connections in the brain as I've said about a million times already. How can we rereading actually be effective? Well, I don't really think it can. I mean, I still reread my notes to this day some of the time. But whenever I do, it's because I have a very small amount of energy and because I can't be bothered to do something that's more efficient. It's like sometimes when I go to the gym, I sometimes go to the gym and just do maybe a couple of pull-ups and then I'll sit on the sofa or on my phone and then just flick through my whatever. But the way I'm building the habit of going to the gym is by considering it a win, just by turning up. Say in my book if I've turned up to the gym and done one thing, it doesn't matter how token that thing is. If I'm on my phone listening to an audio book or listening to a podcast or watching YouTube. That's still a win for me. It still counts as me having gone to the gym. It's the same with studying. If we're trying to build up the habit of doing consistent study and let's say it's 11:00 PM, and we haven't had a chance to do any studying the whole day, and we're really tired but we want to get that rapid. We want to make sure we've done some studying today then, as much as anyone else fall into that trap of thinking, I'm just going to read my notes. But I know it doesn't actually do anything. It doesn't actually help me. But at that point I can bring myself to muster up the energy to do something more effective that requires more hard work. In that sense, I think rereading is useful. It's useful to have as the equivalent of going to the gym, doing a single pull up and then just going on your phone for the rest of the time. It's that useful in my opinion, having tried it a lot of the time and realizing that actually active recall is so much better. But it's nice to have that option when we have low energy levels. Moral of the story, we probably shouldn't be rereading. But hey, if we're rereading works for you and you're very happy with your results then I'm not sure why you're watching this course. You probably went into [inaudible] learn anything. But if you're doing lots of rereading and you're unhappy with your results, you'd rather get better results in less time then at that point you probably want to start using something like active recall and spaced repetition rather than rereading. Thanks for watching, and I'll see you in the next video. 16. How to Highlight Effectively: In this remembering section, we've talked about active recall like testing ourselves is the single best thing ever, we've talked about space repetition, and we've talked about my retrospective revision timetable and my friend Simon's prospective spaced repetition directionless journal. We've talked about interleaving and why it's good, and we've talked about rereading and why it's bad. Let's now talk about highlighting. Now, highlighting is one of those things that we all love to do. I love carrying different colored highlighters with me because it makes me feel pro. I remember when my mom was preparing for her medical exams, and I'd watch her studying, She'd be highlighting with one of these highlighters, and I'd see her book was like tattered page's because of highlighting everywhere and thinking, damn, this is what studying is supposed to look like. But unfortunately, if we look at the evidence, highlighting is not very effective. There's that study from 2013 that I've been referencing a lot from Professor Dunlosky and his colleagues, and they looked at highlighting and all the evidence around highlighting, and they concluded that highlighting is low utility, ie it's not very good. There is one study from 1974 which says that active highlighting is superior to passive re-reading of highlighted material. If you're reading stuff and you're highlighting as you go along, that's better than just reading stuff that's already been highlighted. But then they tried to replicate that in a study 2014. They looked at whether the isolation of an item facilitates it's recall. Because, I suppose, when I'm highlighting, the idea for me is that, I'm thinking, oh, this is an important fact. By highlighting it A, I'll be able to come back to it again but B, somehow by highlighting it, maybe it'll stick out to me in my brain or something like that. At least that's what goes through my head. In this study from 2014, they got four groups of students and they put them in different conditions. Basically they were told to highlight different things. Group number 1 was told to highlight any principles. Group number 2 was told to highlight examples of principles. Group number 3, was told to highlight trivial statements like, random statement. Group number 4 was not supposed to highlight anything at all. Oh, actually no, they were underlining not highlighting, but the principle stays the same. Highlighting something is basically the same as underlining it, because the idea is that it isolates it from the rest of the text. They found that actually there was a little bit of an advantage if the students highlighted a principal, and they were being tested on principles, or if they underlined an example of a principle, and the test was on examples of principles. They found that there was a very slight edge, but overall they found that isolating stuff from the text by underlining overall had no effect. That was especially true if we were looking at overall test performance, which would have been on non-specifically underlined material. What does that tell us? It tells us that highlighting is sort of useful, but it's also very low utility compared to other things that we could be doing. But having said that, I still enjoy highlighting things. Mostly if I'm reading a PDF of lecture notes on my iPad, I'll be using the app Notability, and I'll be using the Apple pencil to highlight stuff as I go along. There's a few different reasons why I highlight. Firstly, I personally find that highlighting helps me concentrate a little bit better. If I have something to do while reading, it means my mind is less likely to wonder. That's a good reason to highlight in my book. Secondly, I enjoy highlighting in different colors. Firstly, because it makes my notes look pretty and when stuff looks pretty, I'm more likely to continue doing it and to enjoy it, but more importantly, I like to highlight different colors depending on what sort of information it is. Then I'll use those highlight colors the next time I'm looking at the topic to try and create my active recall questions out of it. For example, these days in yellow I highlight just general stuff. In blue, I highlight something that's particularly insightful or interesting. In pink, I highlight examinable facts which would then make for good flashcards. In purple, I highlight experimental evidence that would be worth remembering. If I'm doing a teaching session and looking at the lecture notes, I can immediately see from the highlights, okay, that's an examinable fact. If I see an examinable fact, I might say to the group that I'm teaching, "Hey, Tom, tell me about how many joules of work the heart does in a human lifetime." He might say, "Oh, it is 240 million joules of work." I'll be like, "Cool. Well done Tom." Because that's an examinable fact potentially, if that sort of fact came up in your exams. Or I might say, "Hey, Bob, talk to me about that study that Curtis and Co did in 1942." Because I've highlighted in purple Curtis and Co in 1942, I know it's a thing that could be tested in an exam. If I'm just studying for myself, if I'm creating flashcards or creating active recall questions, the second time around after reading the thing and highlighting the thing once, then it means I can immediately see where the examinable facts are, and where the studies are. So I can write, what did Hodgkin and Huxley discover in 1939? Or what did Curtis and Co discover in 1942? Or how many joules of work does the heart do in a given lifetime. That's based on the highlighting of stuff. What I'm highlighting, I recognize in the back of my mind because I've spent ages looking at the evidence. I recognize in the back of my mind that, yeah, highlighting probably isn't effective and I should probably just be writing questions for myself. But while you're reading, you might as well highlight as you're going along, because it doesn't really cost much extra, and we're reading the stuff anyway to try and understand it. But of course, I'm doing the Feynman technique pretty much for every line in the lecture notes or at least at the end of every paragraph, I will be asking myself those two questions of firstly, does this make sense, and secondly, could I explain this to a five-year-old? For me personally, highlighting doesn't detract from the Feynman technique and from the active recall that I'm doing, it helps create active recall questions further down the line. But I think for me the most important fact, is that highlighting just helps me concentrate a little bit better and makes my notes look pretty. Which means when I do a top-down Instagram shot of them, it looks like I've done a little bit of work rather than just have a blank slate. Yeah, those are my thoughts on highlighting. It's probably been a waste of time, but it's just nice anyway, so I still do it and I wouldn't criticize you. I don't like criticizing anyone, but I would criticize you if you were just reading and hoping that would work. But I think if you're reading and highlighting and you've got the intention of doing Feynman technique and doing active recall and doing space revelation and stuff further down the line, I think in that context, there's nothing wrong with highlighting. Sorry, Professor Dunlosky, I know you say it's not very good, but I enjoy it, it's fun, it makes me feel happy. That's highlighting. Thanks for watching and see you in the next video. 17. How to Use Flashcards Properly: Welcome back. Whenever anyone first finds out about active recall and spaced repetition, there's one concept that seems to always crop up and that is flashcards, because flashcards are a marriage of active recall and space repetition. What is a flashcard? Flashcards basically, let's say you have a piece of paper, I'm going to use this track pad as example, and at the front of the flashcard, you would have something like capital of Peru, and on the back of the flashcard you have the answer, so you might write Lima, for example, or at the front of the card you might have three common causes of aortic stenosis, and on the back of the card you might have, if can I remember them now, degenerative calcified disease due to aging, bicuspid aortic valve and rheumatic heart disease, for example. The idea is that you have a question in the front and the back, you would put your notes. Now, lots of people in the past used to use physical flashcards and there was something called the Leitner system to help you induce space repetition with that. I think physical flashcards are a total waste of time now because we've got apps that are really good for effectively doing flashcards. The one that I would recommend is Anki, A-N-K-I, which comes from the Japanese, which is Anki Shimas I think, which means to memorize. Anki is a flashcard app. It's free, but you do have to pay like 20 quid for the iOS version. I think this is totally worth it because flashcards are amazingly magical devices. I used flashcards properly in my second year, my third year, and my fifth year of medical school and those were the years that I did best in. I got a first-class in my second year, I came top of the year in my in my third year, and I came like top 10 percent just about in my fifth year, when I used flashcards. On my first year, fourth year, and sixth year, I didn't use flashcards and I ended up being a lot more mediocre like middle of the pile, like fourth less, all that thing, in first, fourth, and sixth year when I didn't use flashcards. Anecdotally, I love flashcards. Flashcards are great. But how do we use flashcards properly? I recommend you download the app Anki, and you can use that. Alternatively, there's Quizlet, and if you pay for Quizlet premium which costs like 20 quid a year, I think, then you get the space repetition built into that. But, why is Anki so good? I'm going to show you why Anki's so good by showing you on here how Anki works. Here's what Anki looks like basically. You have decks of cards and then you can do the flashcards. What you can do is you can either make your own cards or you can download a deck off the Internet. Most people recommend making your own cards, unless you're studying. With medicine specifically, depending on what exam you're doing. For example, if you're taking the USMLE and you're following a resource like Pathoma, which is a really common resource that everyone use it to prepare for it, then other people have already made Anki decks, based off of Pathoma. There's not much point in you that enacts creating our own flashcards for that because the work's already been done. But in most other subjects, it does make a lot of sense to make our own flashcards because then obviously we're engaging with information better. It's a bit harder and therefore, our brain's more likely to remember it. Downloading a deck off the Internet is easy. It's the lazy option, but it is doable. Here is some text that I've been making as I've been going along, studying for one of my exams. I'm not necessarily using flashcards the right way in fact. Let's do this one. The MRCP is the Membership of the Royal College of Physicians and it's an exam that doctors in the UK have to take. Let's click on the basic sciences deck and click study now. Let's see what the front of the flashcards says. VHL syndrome is something condition predisposing to neoplasia as due to an abnormality individual gene located on blah, blah. Mode of inheritance, I'm going to say autosomal dominant. Yes, it is. I've hit the space bar to see what the answer is. It is autosomal dominant. That means I can now rate this flashcard as being, again, good or easy and I've set intervals for this. If I didn't get that, it would come up again in the next three minutes. If I thought it was good, I would get in 15 minutes, and if I thought it was easy, I would get it in four days. I got that one, let's say easy, in four days. HLA is our encoded for by genes on chromosome 6. Yes, I got it right. I can't believe that and that was straight out of my head. Easy. HLA something are class 1 antigens while HLA something are class 2 antigens. I don't know. I don't know what this is talking about. HLA A, B, and C are class 1 antigens while DP, DQ, and DR are class 2 antigens, that does ring a bell, but I didn't know the answer. I'm going to click again. This comes up again in three minutes time. You can see, this is forcing me to do active recall by testing me on like the knowledge of this stuff. But it's also forcing me to do space repetition, because if I got something wrong, it means I can tell it to show it to me again in three minutes, or in 15 minutes, or whatever. If I got something right, it can tell it to show it to me again in four days. If I got that question about von Hippel-Lindau syndrome again in four days time and I got it right again, then the easy interval would change to like a month. Anki has an algorithm for space repetition built-in so that the harder cards come more often and the easier cards come less often like you would actually space the intervals out. There's been loads of people on the Internet who have dug down into the math and the science behind the Anki space repetition algorithm. I'll put links to some of those things in the video description. Anki is really, really popular in medical school because you just have a huge torrent of information to memorize. For the people that use Anki, they swear by it. But one of the problems on Anki is that, to use it well and to use it properly, ideally, you want to keep it to one fact per card, rather than just copying a pestering all your notes on a single card. Ideally, you want to be doing it consistently over a long period of time. I love using flashcards, if I start early on and I can do it for isolated facts. For example, in my second year, I used flashcards to memorize drugs and to memorize bacteria and viruses and things. When it came to drugs, it would be a flashcard about ordinate paracetamol and on the back of the card would be its mechanism of action and would be it salience side effects. I would learn those and we'd be going through flashcards in a group with my friends. One of the techniques of working together with friends is that you can do flashcards together and that's nice. I remember in my second year of med school, me and my friends Calumn and Paul, we would order some chicken donut from the local kebab shop and like 10:00 PM at night, we would just run through drug flashcards. We did that throughout the year, which meant that when the pharmacology exam came around where we had to use this knowledge, it was super easy because we'd been doing flashcards throughout the whole year. Equally for pathology where we have to learn all these different details about different viruses, different bacteria, coronaviruses and that stuff, again, there's all specific examined facts about that, that can go straight into Anki. I made an Anki deck for pharmacology and I had an Anki deck for pathology as well. In an ideal world, we would have one examinable per flashcard and we'd be doing it very, very consistently. But there are other ways of using flashcards. For example, in my third year, the year in which I ranked first in the yeah or rather second in the year, but won the prize for best exam performance jointly with this other girl who came first, anyway, rank very highly in the year. I was using flashcards extensively for that. But in my third year, I wasn't using flashcards for single examiner fact, because it was entirely essay based, I was studying psychology and our exam was 100 percent essays. We had to write essays about psychology. What I was using Anki for is that I was using it to memorize different chunks of content so that I could basically drag and drop them from my mind into the essay in the exam. For example, on the front of the flashcard, I would write, copy key and blunt 1972, and that would be reference to a paper. On the back of the flashcard, it would be an explanation of what they found and what the papers showed and what the results were, and why it's relevant to me. I would have lots and lots of facts on a single flashcard, but if you then told me at the time copy key and blunt in the 1972, I would instantly know what that study was, what they found, and what essay I could put it in. This is technically not what you're supposed to do when you're doing flashcards because ideally you want to have one examinable fact per flashcard. But I think if you have got an essay exam, then memorizing whole chunks of content. Like even for some of my essays, I'd prepared really fancy, nicely written introductions and conclusions and I put all of those into Anki. I would memorize introductions for my essays, and I'll talk a lot more about this in the video called the essay memorization framework, which again, I've put on YouTube, which is actually one of my most popular videos. That talks in depth about how he used Anki to memorize chunks for essays. I just wanted to flag up that, that is a potential use of Anki, flashcards id generally, if you want to go the handwritten route, but I don't know why you'd want to do that. Again on the topic of flashcards, let's talk about a few cautionary tales. What you don't want to do is you do not want to make a flashcard for absolutely everything. Because then we get into flashcard overload and there are so many people. I had this problem in my first year, I discovered Anki towards the end of my first year, and for about two weeks, I was making flashcards on absolutely everything, thinking, "Oh, this is efficient, why don't I make flashcards?" But then I realized very quickly that actually there's too many flashcards and I can't go through them, so I ended up going back to my other techniques. But a friend of mine called Katherine, ended up making flashcards for absolutely everything, like for the whole year. She had like 5,000 flashcards by the end of the year. Realized that there was no way she could feasibly go through all 5,000 flashcards and she felt that all that I felt was was a bit of a waste of time. What I do now when making flashcards is that I only make flashcards for something if I absolutely have to. If I'm making my own flashcard, I don't usually make them in my first pass through the content. Usually I use the Cornell note-taking system for that. But if there's a fact or a concept that's proving resistant to memorizing or remembering, or whatever, or that I find particularly tricky, then I'll make an Anki flush cut out of it. For example, if I'm doing past papers on a website like post medicine or post test, which is an online question bank for medical students, if I get something wrong, then I will copy and paste the solution into Anki so that I know that next time, I'm basically building up this bank of stuff that I got wrong, so that when it comes to cramming for the exam, I can just blitz through all the stuff that I got wrong. Even that's probably slightly sub-optimal. The main warming warning is that be wary of making too many flashcards. I think I'd recommend asking yourself, do I really need a flashcard for this? I've got a story that really puts us into perspective and like once I made my video about Anki and about high memorized essays with it, I started getting loads of messages and emails, from people saying that, hey, these are my decks. Can you have a look at it? Can you make sure I'm on the right track? There was one student's that was I found. He was he was a first-year medical student, and has had like 8,000 flashcards and I immediately I was like, this are way too many war, but he didn't. Then I looked through some of these. The one that stuck out was here, he had a flashcard saying, "Where is the hot?" The answer was in-between the lungs. Where's the heart? In between the lungs. That is one of those things that's just so obvious that you don't need a flashcard for it. It's also a bit point as having flashcard because when you see the phrase, where's the hot? I would say. If you ask me where as the heart, I would say all right, well, I suppose is at the level of t_5 vertebra. It's in the middle mediastinum. It's surrounded by the anterior mediastinumIa and the posterior mediastinum, has got the thoracic dognee running alongside, its got the protocol on top of it, blah, blah. But if I looked at the flashcard, the answer was in-between the lungs, I would feel cheated. I'll be like, what the hell? What is the point at this flash card? This is a total waste of time. That's why I told him. I was like, look man, avoid, avoid making flashcards for obvious things. That's why I think that I wouldn't personally make flashcards on my first pass through the content, because who knows what the bits that I'll just know of by heart world be and what the bits are going to be obvious and what bits aren't going to be obvious. I would start making flashcards on my second or third pass through the content, and only if I absolutely had to. Those are my thoughts on flashcards. Again, links in the projects and resources area or wherever this is on, on skill share or wherever you watching this. I'll put links to some other studies of how we actually use flashcards, or if you just do a Google search for USMLE flashcards, if you're a medical student, then you'll find loads of people that have really gone in anal detail about how they used flashcards for the US, I'm going to preparation, and there's all theory crafting about the optimal spaced repetition intervals and all this stuff. Just find something that works for you. That's what we're saying flashcards for now. Thanks for watching and I'll see you in the next video. 18. Flashcard Alternative - Google Sheets vs Anki: All right. We've talked about how we might be able to use Anki as a flashcard software, or Quizlet, or do it on paper if you really want to, and my friend Thomas Frank has a really good video on how to use paper flashcards and how to use a system to space repetition them if you want, but to be honest, he made that like four years go before the flashcard app thing was like a really big deal. I fully recommend using an app for that, but sometimes I don't like using flashcard apps like Anki. I actually prefer to use Google Sheets just like a spreadsheet like a flashcard alternative, especially if I'm not doing it like longitudinally over a very long time. I think Anki is fantastic if you're able to put in the time to do it consistently over the long term, but for example, for my final year exams, final year OS keys, which are clinical exams where we have to talk to the examiner and basically show off our knowledge to the examiner. For that, I only really started preparing about two months before the exam, and I think that wasn't enough time to do everything properly in Anki. What I did instead was use Google Sheets as a flashcard alternative. I've done a YouTube video exploring this, but I'm going to put it in this video just for completeness because I think this is actually quite a good technique. I've had messages from a lots of the students saying that, "Oh wow, I've started using your Google Sheets technique as a flashcard alternative," but equally, I've had lots of messages from students saying, "Oh, I tried out your Google Sheets method, but to be honest, I prefer Anki." That's completely fine. As long as we're using active recall and space repetition in whatever study technique we're using, it don't really matter if it's Google Sheets or it's Anki or whatever. In a minute I will include the Google Sheets video here so you can have a look through that method if you haven't seen it yet, but just a quick note.l I always use Google Sheets rather than Microsoft Excel, because Google Sheets is free, it's quick and it loads in any device, whereas Microsoft Excel takes ages to open up its a big and heavy lumbering piece of software. I suppose now they build support for different devices, but I mean, if I'm at work for example, and I want to do some quick revision, I can literally just go on Google Sheets on the web, where they can't open up Excel on the work computers. There's all sorts of reasons why I use Google Sheets rather than Microsoft Excel. Here is the video where I will now talk about Google Sheets. I hope you enjoy it, if you haven't seen already, I think you'll hopefully learn something from it. Thank you. We're going to jump in and I'm going to show you the Google Sheet that I used to revise for my final year medical school exams at Cambridge a few months ago. I'll just explain how it works. Here we have the Google Sheets and you can see along the bottom, I've got all the various different subjects, abdomen, cardiovascular examination, the respiratory examination, neuroendocrine dern, Cardios , which is a musculoskeletal thing. It doesn't matter. The point is the subjects along the bottom and then the structure of the sheet is based on having questions in column A, and answers in column B, and it's pretty much that simple. Let's look at my liver disease low category and I've got color the questions myself, cause of hepatomegaly, which means a big liver. What might be evidence of decompensation and liver disease? What investigations would you like? Complications of cirrhosis, classification of cirrhosis, causes of ascites, which means in a fluid in your abdomen. How do we treat ascites? All of these various questions about liver disease. The cool thing is I've written the answers in column B, but I have colored them in font color white. I've wrote them obviously, with font color black so I could see what I was doing, but then once I've written the answer, I text color white, which means when I'm looking through the spreadsheet, I can't see any of the answers, and therefore this is active recall. When I see a question, I have to actively retrieve the information from my brain, which as we mentioned earlier and in all of my previous study videos, is the single most efficient study technique. That's the whole point of this method, is just about having questions and answers, and this is like flashcards. It's like having the front of a flashcard as column A and the back of the flashcard as column B, but I just think this is a nicer way to look through a topic, and we'll talk more about exactly why I like this method later on. That's pretty much the method. Questions in one column, answers in the other column. Also, you'll notice that I have color-coded some of these. It's pretty straightforward. Green means I'm pretty sure I know the answer or I knew the answer, six months ago when I was doing these exams. I don't think I can remember the answers to a lot of these, but I'll do some space repetition and active recall of this particular spreadsheet later on. Yellow means I wasn't very good, but I will assert a half near the answer, and then the few red ones down here, what are some problems following transplantation? That I didn't know the answer at all, and sometimes I use orange for like in upper middle ground. Towards the end of the revision period where I can't take exams, I was doing this thing where I would hide some columns that I didn't need, so between here and here. There's quite a few green ones, but I don't need to go through all the green ones. So I can just hide these two columns, and then you end up cleaning up your spreadsheet over time. Then if you do want to have a session or an hour or two where you're just going through every single question, you can just bash through them. This is the Google Sheets method for active recall. I hope you enjoyed it. Now let's talk about exactly why I use this instead of flashcards. Why do I use Google Sheets instead of flashcards? There's a few reasons. Firstly, I really like the fact that putting it in a spreadsheet format gives you a systematic structure of reviewing your stuff. Flashcards are good because they tend to randomize the order in which questions are asked. Which is good because it means that you're having to dredge up information that's in different topics, and there is this thing inefficient studying that interleaved practice that the more you learn from different categories, the more likely you are to remember it, but I'm not a massive fan of that, especially within the medicine and a lot of other subjects where the recall you're going to be asked to do is going to be systematic. Like let's say I see a patient who has a stoma in their abdomen, I'm going to be asked questions about the stoma. They might ask me what the complications of stomas are, like the question over here. They might ask me about different indications for a stoma, they might ask me what a Hartmann's procedure is, this whole stuff related to a stoma. Whereas if I had these in an Anki or Quizlet deck, then I might get a question about what are the complications of stoma, and then the next question would be, how the patients with autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease present? The next question might be, what are the complications following a liver transplant? It's good to have this knowledge of the top of your head, but I think I prefer the systematic approach where I can have this mental model of stomas and just know everything about them in one place, and actively revise that one topic at a time, rather than just getting a scatter gun of different questions about various problems in the abdomen. Secondly, I really like how this lets me see at-a-glance exactly where the holes in my knowledge are. With something like Anki and Quizlet, I have to trust that they're space repetition algorithm is going to flag up the things that I don't know, and often I'll have to go through a 100 cards where I'm pretty sure I know like 80 of them and it's only 20 of them that I'm really struggling with. Whereas in this, I have color-coded in myself, stuff that I've put in red means that lost time I tested myself on this, I didn't know how to do it. That's the stuff I'm going to do first, and if I just scroll through the Abdo exam, I see there's quite a few red yellows and oranges, so I'm going to spend some time on this today and I don't think cardio exam. There's more green and yellow here, there's a few reds so I'd be looking at these reds, and this becomes a very quick way of reviewing questions. I'm not a fan of reviewing notes obviously, that's not efficient it's passive. Is just reading information. I'm a big fan of active recall and this makes it super easy to see where the holes in my knowledge are. Thirdly, I think the Google Sheets method makes it slightly easier to work together with friends. If you've seen any of my previous study with me videos from a few months ago when my friends and I were preparing for a med school exams. We don't even have like sessions where I'd pull up the Google Sheet on my big monitor, zoom the font size in and we'd sit there and work through the questions one at a time. That is possible with flashcards. I have done it in the past with flashcards. I just found that having tried both of them, it was nicer to just go through a spreadsheet and be like one-by-one next, rather than trust that random flashcards would pop up in the right order. Finally, the reason I prefer Google Sheets to flashcards is because flashcards become an absolute burden, like I mentioned at the start of the video. You see that you've got a 150 flashcards to review that day, and it just sucks all the enjoyment out of learning. I know you can set them so you only review your 20 at a time, but then sometimes you want to change the amount and sometimes you want work more and then you have to actually go into the options and change that up. All this stuff. Essentially Google Sheets just makes it a super low commitment thing to sit down and study. Even if I have five or ten minutes, I can just go open Google Sheets, finds the things that are red and actively try and recall them, and then look at the answers or Google or Wikipedia or textbook for the stuff that I don't remember. Even if I have five or ten minutes that will work. Whereas for a flashcard, yeah, it does work if you just have a few minutes at a time, but I often found when I was using flashcards intensively in first and second year, that unless I had like an hour or two to sit down and do my flashcards. I used to treat it as such a big deal that I ended up not reviewing them very often. I like the fact that Google Sheets is low commitment. You can do it as little or as much as you want. That's just nice. It's nice going through them and there's that little, gamification element of it as well. Where once you recall something well then you mark as yellow, you mark it as green and it gives you that little burst of endorphins that make you feel good about studying overall. If you have some spare time and I've got exams coming up, I just bash up in Google Sheets on my iPhone or iPad or laptop, or even a random browser. It just works. It's just pretty magical. Finally, I just want to end by addressing a question that I've had from loads of people over the last year or so that I've mentioned as Google Sheets thing. People always ask, what do you make a flashcard for and what do you use your Google Sheet for. I already don't have that distinct a categorization in general, if I was to come up with a rule of thumb, I prefer flashcards for very isolated facts. For example, what is the dose of colomoxy [inaudible] pneumonia? It will be like 625 milligrams four times a day, three times a day or whatever. It's an isolated fact. What type of virus is a flavivirus? It's a double-stranded DNA RNA virus that doesn't, discrete, isolated facts. I prefer Google Sheets for more general understanding key concepts. I said in one of my previous videos, that I quite like the the phrase, what's the deal with polymath massacre? It's a bad question to put on flashcard because if you look at the evidence running flashcards. People always say that it's better to have a distinct fact. Whereas just explained polymer jewelry massacre is a very broad, open-ended question. I think that's the thing that I liked putting in my Google Sheet, because if I don't know what it is, I'll just Google it. It can be two anyway because I'm going through my Google Sheet, so I'll just Google it, find out what it is and then either right some of it down on my sheet or just make a mental note in my head to repeat that information, to rehearse it and to active recall it. Then I can mark that particular box as yellow. Another question people often ask is, do you write out your whole answers in full, in the flashcard or in the Google Sheet? The answer is, sometimes, if it's a simple thing like what's the differential for aortic stenosis or an ingestion systolic murmur. There's just four points here. HOCN, VSD, aortic sclerosis and amniotic fluid murmur, at least at the medical students final level. Only four things. I can write four things in down in my little spreadsheet column. But if the question was explain polymer dramatic, I probably wouldn't write down anything in the column because I would trust that if I don't know what it is, if I can't explain it to myself in my head, I'll just Google it and then I'll be able to explain it. A lot of the time, I think we can waste a lot of time making the flashcards, but especially for stuff like medicine where every single thing is just a Google away, there's almost no point in adding tons of information and duplicating the information and making your notes because you can just Google it, if you don't know what the answer is. Hopefully that clarifies those two points. I don't really have that distinctive categorization between flashcards and sheets, but I prefer Google Sheets for more general concepts and flashcards for mood distinct facts, even though there's a lot of overlap. Secondly, I sometimes don't write out the answers in the column at all if I can just Google it. I hope you found this video useful. We talked about why are used Google Sheets. We've talked about how I use Google Sheets. It's pretty much the same as flashcards, but I think the Google Sheet method addresses some of the issues that I personally have found with flashcards, and that's a point that I want to end on. This is just what works for me. This thing about Google Sheets being better than flashcards is obviously not gospel truth. The only gospel truth in this whole study tips stuff is active recall and space repetition. In fact, it's better than gospel truth because there is a mountain of evidence supporting it. Controversial, active recall, space repetition, state things also things like elaborative encoding and interleaved practice, you can find out more if you've read the book, make it stick, but I'll be working on videos on those over time. This is just like a personal preference thing. I'm making this video because lot of people have asked about it. I prefer Google Sheets to flashcards for some things. That's not to say it works for everyone. That was the Google Sheets method as a flashcard as an Anki alternative. Yeah. It works for me, it worked for me for my final years but I used Anki most of other years where I did very well. I did pretty well my final year as well, I think through the Google Sheets method, but to be honest, anything that we do that involves space repetition and active recall is pretty much bound to work. Thanks for watching and I'll see you in the next video. Bye bye. 19. Mind Maps: We are continuing our saga of effective techniques for remembering stuff. Having of course established that step one is to understand and only step two is to remember. In this video I want to talk about mind maps or spider diagrams and the basic idea is that you have a concept in the middle of your page. Then you have like the branches of that concept going out from the middle, and then you have the subcategories of that branches going out from that. I quite like mind maps and the reason I like them is because they help me get a broad understanding of what the content that I'm looking at is. Firstly, I made loads of mind maps when I was in my third year and memorizing essays. You'll see lots of those in the essay memorization framework video. If you haven't seen that yet, that'll be a few videos further along in this class. But also I quite like making mind maps in clinical school, with clinical medicine in years 4, 5,and 6 of medical school. Here is, for example, what a mind map looks like. This is the one that I made for the different coagulation disorders. How do I zoom into this? Hopefully you can see on the page, this was something that I wrote on a piece of paper and then I scanned it into one note that was using one at a time before notion was the thing. We can see in the middle we've got bleeding and coating as one of the strands of hematology, which is the study of blood. I've split that up into prokaryotes so protein disorders and anti-coagulant, so bleeding disorders, so things that make you clot and things that make you bleed. We can see that prokaryotes and is splitted into hereditary and acquired, and then we've got a few different things within acquired, and we've got a few different things that try to trade. An anticoagulant is clotting factor of blood vessels, platelets number of platelets. You can see that hopefully this gives me an idea of what all the different categories are. Like in the video earlier on, if you saw that about scoping the subject, a mind map is like where you start with the base of the tree and then you branch out into different things and you can put the leaves and flowers and stuff on the branches. I didn't have all this metaphor extends. For example, if we're talking about protein C deficiency or protein S deficiency, I know that they are deficiencies. I know that they are, they are hereditary. I know they're protagonists so they make you clot. I know they are within this branch of causing hematology disorders. Equally, if I was thinking of DIC, which stands for disseminated intravascular coagulopathy. That would be here in my mind map. I know it's a non-immune cause of platelet destruction, which ultimately reduces platelet number, which is ultimately an issue with the platelets that causes us to bleed a little bit more than is ideal. This is what a mind map that looks like. I think this is great because otherwise, I'll use the example of med school but apply this to whatever subject you're doing. Otherwise, if we looked at the textbook and we looked at bleeding and clotting disorders in the Oxford handbook of clinical medicine or something. We would just have a long list. I think having it in this mind map format makes it really obvious, at least for me in my head, like where the thing fits into the bigger picture. This is something that I'll talk about that I think is really helpful to keep in mind that no one really explicitly tells us that whenever we are learning anything, we want to first understand where it fits into the bigger picture, which goes hand and hand with scoping the subject. This is one example of a mind map. Oh, perfect at least, one page syllabus. I was a big fan of putting entire syllabuses onto a single page because then I could see everything that was going on. This is my mind map for pediatrics. We've got pediatrics, it's split up into respiratory, gusto cardio, derm, safeguarding, neonates, emergency syndromes, cancer, and other loads of different categories within pediatrics. Then those, I've just basically put the whole syllabus on one single page so that if I'm revising pediatrics for example, I can just look at this and I can go one at a time. I can be like, do I know everything about bronchiolitis, asthma, viloris, crude and epiglotitis, CF, cystic fibrosis or pneumonia, cool. That's fine. I'm done with respiratory. Let me look at gastro, right. Do we know about inflammatory bowel disease? Do I know about functional abdominal pain? Do I know about necrotizing and heraclitus? Do I know about hirschsprung's disease? Do I know about GERD gastroesophageal reflux disease. Do I know about HUS hemolytic uremic syndrome? Do I know about gastroenterologisis caused by fluids and they are written about pariogenesis, do I know about interception when celiac disease? These are all the gastro related things within pediatrics. Firstly, what I can do is I can look at the mind map and then try and active recall everything I know about these things and I can highlight the stuff that I didn't know and look it up. That was one way to do this stuff. But Secondly, what I can do is I can turn this over or get a blank piece of paper and see if I can recreate the syllabus from scratch. It'd be a lke pediatrics. We're going to look at every spare tree. What are all the pediatric respiratory conditions that I know of? I will sit there and active recall the stuff. I'll be I know the cystic fibrosis is a thing. I know the asthma, bronchiolitis, the crude epiglottis is valoris. Is there anything else within PDZ respiratory and I'll be like, I can't remember. Then I'll look at this thing and see, oh, actually all damn pneumonia. Obviously pneumonia is obvious, but I didn't think of that as being a respiratory pediatric thing. But then I'll add that to my mind map. Mind maps are all different sorts of things. But hey, like I said, they help with understanding where stuff fits into the bigger context as a whole. But B they help me also use active record because then I can redraw the mind-map and just relax like really fun. Like when I was in my second, third year, I would redraw my maps a lot as a way of memorizing things. It just nice you open your pocket pat when you page you get a different colored pencils. You draw the spider diagram where the mind map from memory. I don't know, at least when I was doing it, it would start off feeling really hot. Then as I knew, I'd mastered the content. I'd be able to recreate the spider diagrams in my sleep. It was like really satisfying and really nice. I absolutely love mind maps and I will swear, by them to the ends of the earth. I feel like I had one. Yes, I have one on infectious diseases, I think are tried putting this all in one page but actually fit on two pages. This was basically me trying to write every single thing that I needed to know about all the different infected diseases. So for example, we've got the gastro related infectious diseases. We've got cholera, shigella e. Coli, salmonella, CTF, campout about enter me bug, giardia basilar serios rotavirus. Then underneath those in different colors, in blue, I've written what the salient features of these things are. So for example, shigella is famous for giving you bloody diarrhea, colorize, famous for giving you rice, water, stool and tear amoeba dysentery is famous for bloody diarrhea on flask shaped ulcers and right upper quadrant pain which can be from a liver abscess. It was basically all of the high yield facts about all of these different infectious diseases that I was looking at. I put that all into my mind map for infectious diseases, for gastro, than I had one for respiratory, I had one for fever, had one-foot dermatology. I had one for general infectious diseases, I had one for neuro and for genital urinary infections like candida, syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, etc. Damn, this is really good. I'm looking at this now and thinking, wow, this is some good stuff. Yeah, I was using mind maps for all sorts of things. My housemates, Molly was also a big fan of mind maps, like she would get an A3 piece of paper, write the topic in the middle, and then just try and write out everything she knew about the topic and then she would look at her notes and fill in where there were blanks. She just drew out each diagram a few times over the course of the term. Then she'd end up knowing everything because she's used active recall, she's you spaced repetition and she's actively plug the holes in our knowledge based on the information in these mind maps. Mind map are great, mind map are fantastic. I've got this other video where I talk about how I use mind maps to memorize like 50 essays for my psychology exams. Using that technique, I was able to at least when the prize for best exam performance, even though ranked Jun's like second, join. Even though ranked second year, which is a bit annoying, I wanted to come first, but oh, on the prize anyway, I think it was mostly down through memorizing essays using [inaudible] and memorizing essay structures using spider diagrams or mind maps. Mind maps were amazing. We recommend them for everything in the great. Thanks for watching and see you next video. 20. Memory Techniques - Mnemonics: We are continuing on barrage of evidence-based techniques for remembering stuff with the caveat that of course, step number one is that we understand stuff and step number two is that we remember slash memorize the stuff. Now we're moving onto memory techniques. We're going to talk about mnemonics. We're going to talk about the PEG system, and we're going to talk about memory polices, and I've used all three of these to various extents in various different years of med school. In this video we're going to be talking about mnemonics. What is a mnemonic? Well technically a mnemonic is just anything that aids our memory. But traditionally, mnemonics are considered those like an acronym or an easy way to remember a slightly difficult to remember thing. For example, medical students are taught that if you want to remember the bones of the hand, you use the mnemonic. Some lovers try positions that they can't handle. Some lovers try positions that they cant handle. That corresponds to the scaphoid, lunate, triquetrum, pisoform trapezium, trapezoid, capitate, and hamate. Some lovers try positions that they can't handle. Great. Even just thinking about that eight years after I first learned it and having not really gone back over it since, I can remember that because it's such a strong mnemonic. The way that a lot of these memory techniques works like the hacks for memorizing stuff is by creating a vivid picture or some association between one thing and another thing that makes it easier to remember. As humans, we're not very good at remembering words, but we are very good at remembering songs, we're very good at remembering pictures. If we can turn something into a song or a poem, or a picture or something funny or interesting, then our brain is more likely to remember the interesting or the novel. Some lovers try positions that they can't handle. Another one is the mnemonic for the 12 cranial nerves. There are a few versions of this, but my favorite one is, on on they traveled and found Voldemort regarding very ancient horcruxes. On on they traveled and found Voldemort guarding very ancient horcruxes , and that is the olfactory nerve, the optic nerve, the oculomotor nerve, the trochlear nerve, the trigeminal nerve, the abducent nerve, facial nerve, vestibular cochlear nerve, glossopharyngeal nerve, vagus nerve, accessory nerve, and hypoglossal nerve. On,on they traveled and found Voldemort guarding very ancient horcruxes. That would be one way of remembering the 12 cranial nerves. Usually by the time we graduate we're so familiar with the 12 nerves that I just think of it as cranial nerve 9. I don't bother the names as such, and I don't really think of the mnemonic anymore. But that is how me and most of my friends learned that at the time. I think this even applies even when we're doing stuff that doesn't necessarily lead to something interesting like that. One thing that I found really helpful when preparing for my final year OSCE exams, which are clinical exams, is that often you have to recite a spill of things that you're looking for on inspection. For example, if you're examining a lump on the skin, there's a few different things you want to be looking at and there's different ways of remembering them. The way that me and most of my friends did it, if I can remember now it was the four Ss, four Ts, and three Ps or something. The four Ss would be site, size, surface, and shape. The Ts is would be tethering, temperature, tenderness, and transit elimination, and the Ps would be, I cant remember. The Ps are maybe just four S and the four Ts and I'm confusing with something else. But at the time obviously this was fresh in my mind because that exam is coming up and now it's like three years later I can't remember these very often. But yeah, there's all sort of different ways that we can turn stuff into mnemonics. Especially with medicine where is just a ton of stuff to memorize, one thing that I found really helpful was if I ever came across a list of things that I had to know, I would be thinking, can I rearrange this list of stuff so that it spells out something interesting or so that it's some mnemonic, some acronym I can turn into. That makes studying a bit more fun because it means it's more of a game. You be like, ooh, what funky way can I remember to remind myself of the different types of lumps in the testicle? You can make something funny for that or what's the mnemonic that I can use for the cardiovascular examination? Essentially, what I'd recommend is whenever you're studying anything that requires learning a list, there's almost always a way to turn that into a mnemonic of some sort. But with the caveat, it's very easy to become overly reliant on mnemonics. What you shouldn't do is rely on mnemonics at the expense of understanding. There's all stuff about, if someone says, what are the causes of atrial fibrillation? There's basically three things. Ischemic heart disease, rheumatic heart disease, fiber toxicosis, and alcohol is the fourth one. Those are the common cause of atrial fibrillation, which is one of the conditions you can get in the heart. But someone on the internet has made a longest demonic spelling atrial fibrillation, and it's pretty ridiculous because I have no idea what even is but I just saw it one day I was like, what the hell is this? Because just like 15 different causes of atrial fibrillation, but it doesn't tell you what the most common ones are. Which is just a bit why maybe alcohol, fiber toxicosis, rheumatic heart disease. If those four are the most common, that will eat my heart. Alcohol, toxicosis, rheumatic heart disease, and ischemic heart disease ATRI. But if it's any other in any other order, I'm going to be leaving out that mnemonic because what we don't want to do is rely on mnemonics. If a doctor would ask us, hey, what are the causes of atrial fibrillation? We don't want to be reciting the mnemonic and thinking, oh, this, that and the other and get the very rare stuff before the very common stuff. We want to be sensible about it and give it in a reasonable order. That's just the only thing to keep in mind when using mnemonics is that we shouldn't become overly reliant on them, especially if it comes at the expense of understanding. But having gotten this far in the course, I'm sure you know by now that understanding is by far the most important thing, and only after we've understood the content in depth, do we bother trying to memorize it using all these memory hacks. But yeah, mnemonics are one of my favorite things and one of the things that made studying fun for me. I hope you get some use out of them if you're not using them already. Thanks for watching and I'll see you in the next video. 21. Memory Techniques - The Peg System: Let's talk about the second memory technique, and that is the peg system, which usually helps for memorizing numbers. Now, I first came across this in 2012 in the summer before starting university because I stumbled across a book by a magician called Harry Lorayne, which was something about how to develop a superpower memory. I decided before my first year of university, I thought to myself, "You know what? I want to learn these techniques for memorizing stuff because I know I'm going to have to memorize lots of stuff during medical school." I spent a few weeks just committing system to memory, I ended up not really using it in my first year, but ended up coming pretty handy in my second and third year. The peg system, it's based on the concept that we, as humans, we have a very poor memory for numbers and for words, but we have very good memory for concepts. We can imagine a chair in our minds, but it'll be a lot harder to remember the number 155 or 1984 or whatever, because numbers and words are like abstract things and our brain is not very good at remembering abstract things. Whereas if you can visualize something, then it's a lot better remembering that. The idea behind the peg system is that you want to convert numbers into words and then you can visualize the words. This is the evident document I made in 2012, it was on August 2012, I said products for summer, magic hypnosis memory, University Charles, I thought I was going to be at University Charles, so I've tried and to do some request of Japanese YouTube video. I think I wanted to make a YouTube video back in 2012 damn, go into back in five years today. Anyway, and I said memory use Harry Lorayne system and this is Harry Lorayne's peg system for memory, and I think in Derren Brown's book, Trick of the Mind, he's also got another peg system, but this is just one of them. Here's how it works. The sound for one will always be a T or D, and you imagine that as a T has one down stroke, the sound for two will always be an N, because if you imagine like an N has two down strokes, three is M, because M has three down strokes for that to 1, 2, 3, the sound for four will always be R, which is the final sound of the word four, so four is R, five is L, which is the Roman numeral for 50, six is ch, sh, g etc. So that sound which is like the letter J turnarounds, sound for seven will be a K sound for eight will be F or V, sound for nine will be P or B, sound for zero it will be S or Z, for zero. That means if we need the number one we're saying we're then hearing the sound T, number two to order number two would be the sound N, number three M, and so if we want to turn those into images, one becomes tie because the only consonant sounds in tie is just the T, so we know tie is one, nine is B because the only consonant sound and nine is in Bee is a B, I mean a B is nine, but if we're combining numbers together, let's say we're doing 54. That's the word lure because we know five is L and four is R so laar, liar, lure. I would be thinking either lure or liar, or lyre as in the type of musical instrument, the point is it's got two consonant sounds, L and the R, so I know that when I think of lure or lyre, I'm thinking of the number 54. Equally you know 76, we know that seven has a K sound based on this thing, and the way I remember is that seven looks like a K so and if we look at the number 76, we know that six is the soft G or ch or sh sound based on what we've memorized with that Peg System, so we know that cage will be cage, which is 76, and so if we imagine an image of a cage, we know that that must correspond to the number 76. This takes a little bit of effort, if you want to use this properly, you want to get it to a point where it's completely second nature, and I'm quite rusty on this because I haven't had the need to memorize this stuff recently, but I do wish I'd I'd stuck with it because I had this pretty much down like the back of my hand and my second year of med school, and the where I would use a system? Is when I was trying to cram for my second year essay exams, and I knew that in our second year, to get a decent mark in your essays, you need to include references to different scientific studies, and I knew what the studies were, but I never knew what the name of the author was or what year it was in [inaudible] 1972 or Hodgkin-Huxley 1942 or whatever. What I did is for particular essays, I built up a story, and so I memorized the year of the paper by using the Peg system, so let's say, the, it was 1976, that's L, B, K, G. I would have thought of something like lip cage. The image in my head is like, you know, a really big set of lips inside a cage, and it's huge, and so if I imagine lips in a cage that's leakage, which is 1976, and if I was looking at, i don't know, Robinson, 1976, let's say that was the that was the name of the paper, it wasn't but let's say it was. I would imagine a friend of mine from primary school called Eleanor Robinson, and I would imagined her like holding up this big cage that had lips in it. I would know it's Robinson 1976, Robinson Lip cage, and then I'll be able to associate that with the story of the study, and I managed to do this like like the night before the exam and I was like, oh crap, I don't have enough experimental evidence, but thankfully, I had this had this Peg system in my head, and so when it came to writing these essays, I could recall the Peg system in my mind and recall the images I had for these things, and I think the hard I tried, just brought fortune in this. It's really hard to remember Robinson 1976 because like how how do you how do you remember that? I managed to remember it to the point where I got a first and my essays for that year, and I think I would attribute some of that success to this Peg system because it helped me get that final little bit of spice that we needed to add to our essays to make them be first-class essays. Yeah, Peg system, it does take a bit of effort to get set up with it, but many can apply it to anything, and I'm a magician as well, if you didn't know, how do you plays a magic? I used to play bowls and stuff at university, and one of the techniques that magicians have and they also know is mentalism, and some aspects of mentalism are associated with memorizing certain things very quickly, or like memorizing the order of a stack of cards, memorizing the order of a deck. One way of doing that is by associating, let's say number 53, so that would be L and M, with like loom or lime or something like that, and then if I have a picture of a lime in my head and I'll associate that, I don't know where the Jack of hearts, I can imagine the Jack of hearts eating a lime. I know that the Jack of hearts at position 53 in the deck, for example, it comes to handing those sorts of ways, and I think that's why Derren Brown talks about it in his book Trick of the Mind. But Harry Lorayne talks about it in his book about Developing a Superpower Memory, and apparently this is one of the techniques that world memory champions use when they're memorizing things like the digits of pi or like the order of a deck of cards. They use the Peg system because we know that memorizing numbers is really hard, but if we can turn those numbers into images and do it flip on the fly, then it's a lot easier to memorize the images, so that's the Peg system. I don't really use it much these days, but it came in handy when I was in university. Something worth experimenting with if you'd like, and I will link in the description video to have a lowering system or you can just use this that's basically on this evident document, which I'll also stick a link in the notes bit of this class. Thank you for watching and I'll see you in the next video. 22. Memory Techniques - The Mind Palace: Let's continue with our quest to find out about these techniques for helping to memorize stuff. Again, with the caveat that obviously step 1 is to understand the content first and there is no point trying to memorize stuff without trying to understand it. God, I really sound like a broken record at this point but, oh, well. Anyway in this video we're talking about the memory palace technique, which lots of world champions of memory. Famously there was this guy called Dominic O'Brien, who used a memory palace technique to memorize the order of 54 decks of cards and that is, what's that? 54 times 52. I think that's 2,808 or something like that. The order of 2,808 cards in a row in some memory competition. You might have come across the memory palace technique before. It's something that Sherlock Holmes famously talks about a little bit. The idea is that you want to build a palace in your memory of a location that you're very familiar with. Back when I was experimenting with this technique, it was when I was in my first three years at University where our family home was in Southend-on-Sea in Essex. There was a journey that I would take every day, basically from home, walking to the local supermarket. I could visualize that journey in its entirety. If I needed to memorize something, I would place visual aids at different points along that journey. For example, when I'd leave the house, I would see an image of some weird thing happening and that would remind me of what's going on. The idea is that you can combine the memory palace technique with the PEC technique and therefore develop visualizations, develop images for different numbers. Let's say I had to memorize a date like 1976 maybe along my path, I would see the lip inside the cage if you saw the previous video, the lips inside the cage that corresponds to 1976, and that might be the first thing that I see on my route to Asda, the supermarket or Walmart as the Americans would call it. On my way to Asda, I'd, first of all, see the lips in the cage and be like, "Okay, the first paper I need to references is the 1976 paper." Then as I go further along, as I come to a neighbor's house, the next thing I see might be, I don't know, a child in a boat. What would that be? Tot in a boat, so tot is 11 and the boat is nine. What's T? 91. That'd be 1191. If I was referencing something from 1191, then maybe I would see a tot in a boat and I would say, "Okay cool. That's fine." That's the way that the memory palace technique works. The idea is that you try and develop a mind palace of different places. One way of doing this is to literally imagine a palace in your mind where every room in that palace is a different room that you're very familiar with. If I was making one, then one room in my palace would be this living room, one room would be my bedroom, one room would be the bathroom, one room would be my bedroom at home, one would be the dining room at home, one would be the kitchen of this house, one would be the kitchen at home. One might be the doctor's office at my job. I've got these eight different rooms, and I know that in my head, I can imagine, I don't know, a cage with lips inside it on the wall above this monitor. That'll be the first thing in the living room. I can say that the living room then corresponds to physiology and the kitchen corresponds to anatomy or whatever. The idea is that we build up this memory palace. Now, I'll be honest, I haven't really used this extensively, but we're just including this in this class because I used it for a little bit, in my second year of med school, I used the technique to visualize myself along that path to Asda and I used that to help myself memorize, I think it was different types of viruses but I really can't remember at this point, but I haven't really felt the need to use it since, which I regret because everyone who uses it talks about how amazingly powerful a technique it is. Harry Lorayne in his book about memory, talks about it. I think Derren Brown talks about it in Trick Of The Mind as well. There's all sorts of articles on the Internet about how you can actually use the mind palace technique, Sherlock Holmes style to memorize vast chunks of information. I wish I knew more about this, I wish I'd used it more because then I'd be able to talk about it. But for example, one way in which you can use this is that if you do that thing, there's a technique that some people like to use. I think my friend Simon Clarke uses that technique where a different location of studying corresponds to a different subject. When Simon goes to a specific coffee shop in Oxford or in Exeter, that corresponds to theoretical physics or astrophysics or whatever subject he was studying. What you can do with the memory palace, is you can literally look around, you memorize the structure of the coffee shop that you studied that individual subject in, and start placing these visualizations in your head on the walls or tables of this coffee shop. It sounds very abstract. It's very hard to explain, but I think it's worth trying out. I tried in second year. I thought it worked quite well, but I don't know, I just didn't really give it the time that it deserves. But who knows, maybe one day when I've got a bit more time on my hands I'll actually try and adapt the mind palace technique, then use it properly. But yeah, just going to book into that there just to say that is one possibility of something that you can do. That's it for the mind palace. More references in the course notes in the projects and resources area, wherever it ends up being. I will see you in the next video. 23. The Essay Memorisation Framework: We've talked a lot about the different ways that we can remember stuff. Now, I made a video, I think last year called How I Ranked First at Cambridge University: the Essay Memorization Framework and that video is on two and a bit million views of this point. It's one of my most popular videos of all time and that's the video that so many people have watched and have emailed me and have replied in the comments saying that that technique has really changed the game for them. I'm going to include that here just for completeness. But if you have seen that video on YouTube, then obviously there's no point in watching this. But hopefully you'll see that this essay memorization framework is what I used when I was in my third year to get the price for number one in the exams and it combines all of the principles of effective studying. It combines active recall, space repetition, interleaving, categorizing, mind maps, all stuff. This was the year that I peaked in performance and after that year I was cool, I can take my foot off the accelerator now. But yeah, let's include that video now and I hope you enjoy if you haven't seen it already. There are basically two stages to this method. The first stage is the creation stage and the second stage is that memorization stage. In the creation stage, the objective is to create first-class essay plans for every conceivable essay title that they could throw us in the exam and in the memorization stage, we're going to be committing all of these essay plans to memory by systematically using active recall, spaced repetition, spider diagrams and flashcards. The idea is that by the time the exam rolls around, you'll have memorized so many essay plans that a lot of them will just come up in the exam anyway because you've predicted the titles and you'll just be able to regurgitate stuff from your brain onto the paper. But even if stuff comes up that you haven't memorized, you'll know so much about the subject and you'll have so many content blocks in your head that you'll be able to generate a first-class essay from scratch. That was a general overview. Let's now talk about the two components, the creation stage and the memorization stage in turn. The broad objective of the creation stage is to create a large number of really good essay plans that you can then memorize in the memorization stage and regurgitate onto paper during your exam. Now, it's probably beyond the scope of this video of me to teach you how to write a good essay and probably also beyond the scope of my own expertise. But I will share some tips on three main questions and that's firstly, how you decide what essay titles to pick, secondly, how you planned the essay and thirdly, how you make sure your essay plan is really good. Let's deal with those in turn. Firstly, how do we decide what essays we're going to prepare. The objective here is to scope the subject and find essay titles that cover the entire breadth of the syllabus. Now the easiest way to do this is to look at past papers and look at whatever past papers you have available and see what essays have come up in the past and you start off with those. Then once you've planned out those essays, you'll know enough about that subject in particular, that you'll be able to put yourself in the shoes of examiners and start thinking, what's a good essay title that I've not yet asked about? If you haven't got past papers available then I'm very sorry to hear that. You're just going to have to put yourself into the examiners shoes from the get-go or you can actually go to your teacher, or your professor, your lecturer whatever and say, "Hey, what's the essays that might come up in the exam, what are some other things I should be thinking about." Having made a list of what essays we're going to plan, we then need to actually plan those essays and this is the fun part. This is the part that actually requires doing some cognitive labor. The way I would do this is that I'd give myself one day per essay plan. In the first term of uni, I was a slacker, I only made five essay plans. In the second term, I made about 10 and then the Easter holidays, I really ramped it up and made about 35 different ones. The way I do it is that I'd start off with a question. For example, do animals have a theory of mind? Then I would use Google to get as much information as I can about that particular question. I would ignore the lecture notes initially and I would ignore the recommended reading. I'd start off with Google because Google is a really good way to find the answer to any question that you want. Often, I'd be linked to review articles and review papers, and I'd be reading through those review papers. Oftentimes the review paper would directly answer the question, in which case I've pretty much got my essay, I just need to turn it into my own words. But a lot of the time I'd be following references from the review paper. Then once I'd created my essay plan, I would then look at the lecture notes and the recommended reading. This meant that a lot of my material was hopefully more original than everyone else's because most of the students would have built their essays based around the lecture notes whereas I was building my essays on a random Google search. I would start off by creating a research document on that particular topic and pretty much copy and paste every relevant bit of every paper I could find. This is my 10 page document about theory of mind. I've copied and pasted various bits and rephrased various bits and I don't know any of this anymore. This included links at the bottom to where I got the information from so if I need to return to it, I'll be able to find again. Then once I've got my research document, I spend the next few hours planning out the essay and actually writing it out properly. Here is my plan. Is theory of mind a useful concept for understanding social cognition in animals. Yeah, I've got an intro, I've got a preamble, I've got subheadings, I've got evidence, and I've basically taken all of this from these various different resources, from books, from the review papers, from the lecture notes from Google and I've consolidated them into this one essay that I'm ultimately going to memorize. As you can see over here, I've pretty much done this for everything within my subjects. This is Section B, Comparative Cognition, which is all about the thinking of animals. Can animals plan for the future, causality, cognitive maps, the convergent evolution theory of intelligence, do animals have a theory of mind, is the theory of mind a useful concept and you can see here, I've written Anki beside them, which is a foreshadowing as to what's going to come later in this video. Now we've done a research document. We've planned this essay, we pretty much written it out based on our research document and we've only given ourselves one day to do this because of Parkinson's Law, that work expands to fill the time we allocate to it. But how do we make the essay plan actually good? A lot of things go into good essay plan, but in my opinion, there are three things that count. One, structure, two, actually answering the question and, three, having bit a flare, a bit of spice that you're sprinkling in your essay plan. I think the Introduction is the most important part of the essay because in the introduction, you can signal to the examiner that you are doing all three of these things. When the examiner is marking your paper, they're probably really bored, they've read hundreds of these scripts already. You want to hit them with a really legit introduction. Here's an example of an introduction from one of my essays about whether judgment and decision-making is cognitive i.e. logical or affective i.e. emotional. I've written that "The historical view in social sciences has always been that judgments are based solely on content information with individuals being assumed to form judgments by systematically evaluating all available content information in an unbiased manner. However, over the past three decades, a considerable amount of research has challenged this assumption by showing that judgments may be formed not only on the basis of content information, cognitive judgments, but also on the basis of feelings, affective judgment. It is now well accepted that judgment can be both affective and cognitive" Here's where the good stuff comes. "Whether it is one or the other depends on a multitude of factors. Number 1, the salience of the affective feelings, number 2, the representativeness of the affective feelings for the target, number 3, the relevance of the feelings to the judgment, number 4 the evaluative malleability of the judgment and number 5, the level of processing intensity. " Here is the ultimate clincher for this. "I will discuss these in turn and ultimately argue that, generally speaking, in day-to-day life, the circumstances are generally those that result in effective rather than cognitive judgments and decision-making." If we can disentangle all the verbosity from that paragraph, what I've done is I've laid out the five main bits of the essay in terms of structure. I've used numbered points for that rather than just a list, because numbered makes it really, really obviously to the examiner that I got to good structure. I've also said exactly what the answer to the question is. The question is asking whether our judgments are cognitive or illogical or affective, emotional. Instead of wishing, washing around it, I have said in this essay, I will argue that they are emotional rather than cognitive in most elements of day to day life. I'm telling the examiner, "Look, I'm answering the question, this is what you're going to get from me." Finally, I add a little bit of flair. Hopefully, with this stuff about the historical context. I probably got that from a textbook or from a review paper somewhere and I've probably phrased into my own notes and obviously this is just my plan. In the exam, I won't quite be using it word for word, so it's absolutely not plagiarism. It's using useful resources to create, a bit of flair, but adding a bit of historical context. Hopefully, this introduction covers all three points, structure, answering question and a bit of flair. I'm going to leave it at that for this section of the video. Obviously, there are entire university courses and entire books and stuff devoted to the art of writing a good essay. I don't personally think I'm very good at writing an essay, but I think I'm pretty good at using Google effectively and copying and pasting stuff into a research Word document and then turning it into fairly legit sounding prose. Then I think I'm pretty good at systematically memorizing all that information. If you want to know more about how to write an essay, how I write an essay then let me know the comments and I'll maybe try and do a video on it if I can break down the process a bit further. But now, let's talk about stage two of the process, the memorization stage. By this point, we've got a load of really good essay plans that we have created in Word documents. Now the objective in the memorization stage is to upload all of those essay plans to our brain so that we can then regurgitate them in the exam. We're going to do this using three main techniques. Number 1, Anki flashcards, number 2, spider diagrams and number 3, a retrospective revision timetable. Again, let's talk about these in turn. Firstly, Anki and I basically used Anki flashcards to memorize every paragraph in every essay plan. This might seem a bit overkill, but it worked for me. What I've done is as you can see, I've got keywords on the front of the card like Bauer 1984 or Damisch et al 2006 or Ellis et al 1997 or short-term versus long-term memory introduction. I've even put the introduction into an Anki flashcard. Then over time, I will memorize these because pretty much anything that goes into my Anki flashcards because during the exam term, I'm going through my flashcards every single day and I'm doing Anki's space repetition algorithm. I just know that anything that's in my Anki is just going to get uploaded to my brain with a small amount of effort put in by me to actually memorize this stuff. I've got the keywords and I've got the content. Basically, if I've put a paper, Russell and Ferh 1987, I'm describing in the Anki flashcard what that paper shows. Which means that overall, I create these blocks of content that every Anki flashcard is only a block and that block can slot into my essay that I've planned. But also, if a weird essay comes up that I haven't explicitly planned, I still have all these blocks of knowledge in my head. That means if there is a paper that's relevant, I'll know what it is. I'll know what the references, I'll know what the content is, I'll know how to describe the experiment. I'll just be able to put it into even new essays that I'm writing on the spot in the exam. That's all well and good. But obviously, knowing Tversky and Kahneman experiment from 1974 or Mussweiler & Strack from 2000, those things aren't that helpful unless you can also associate them with their own essays and that's where the spider diagrams come in. The second prong of the memorization stage of the essay memorization framework involves spider diagrams and this is the book that I have made all my spider diagrams in. Having memorized a ton of content blocks from my essays using Anki flashcards, what I've now done is from the 20th of April on wards, I made spider diagrams, one page diagrams of every single essay. So here's the first one about implicit versus explicit memory. We've done various topics for the memory, cognitive maps, metacognition and the idea is that we pretty much got the whole structure of the essay along with the keywords in the spider diagram. This is the essay about short-term memory versus a long-term memory. It starts off with an introduction, then something about single system memory then something about the two components and if we zoom in over here, we see I've written G plus C 1966. That actually refers to the flashcard over here where I talk about Glanzer & Cunitz 1966. In my flash card, I've got the content block where I am describing the experiment and actually this is just a whole paragraph and other G & C experiment. This G 1972 is Glanzer in 1972, Craik 1970, B & H is Baddeley & Hitch 1977. So I have all these content blocks in Anki and I've just put the keywords onto the spider diagram so that when I'm creating the spider diagram and I write G plus C 1966, I know exactly what that refers to. Obviously, I've now forgotten four years later, but I used to know exactly what that referred to you back in the day and I've done this for every single one of the 40, 50 essays that I've memorized. The way this would work is that every day I would just draw out various spider diagrams from memory. On the 20th of April, as we can see over here, I did implicit, explicit recollection, familiarity, semantic, episodic, short-term, long-term memory. Then on the 21st, I did future planning, I did Theory of Mind, you through usefulness, metacognition, cognitive maps, gosh, personality gene, black and white differences in IQ and intelligence, controversial subject, the Flynn effect explanation, multiple intelligence. I was clearly very productive on the 21st of April 2015. But the point is that every single day I'd be drawing out these spider diagrams from memory. If there were any bits that I didn't know or that was shaky on, I would look up on my master spider diagram or in my master essay planner on Anki and I actively work on those. So over time, this ended up being like a really effective way to systematically use active recall to ensure that I knew absolutely everything. Like in the time before the exam, I was just bashing through this. Eighth of May, we've done this one, we've done this one, we've done that one another one, another one, another one, another one. I think this is all on the 8th of May. This was about a week before exams. On the 8th of May, I've just absolutely bashed through and just like drawn out my plans for about 15 different essays. So we've got a content blocks and Anki, we've memorized them using Anki. We've got our essay structures using spider diagrams. We've memorized them using active recall. The final piece of the puzzle involves systematic, spaced repetition. How do I decide what I was going to do each day? If you've seen any of my revision videos, you might have come across the idea of the retrospective revision timetable and that was what I used. I've made a whole video on this. I'm not going to talk about it in depth. I'm just going to show you here. Where are we? Here we go. This was my retrospective revision timetable. So it's split up into section A, section B in section C. Let's see, implicit versus explicit memory. Here we go. This actually works. On the 20th of April, I studied implicit versus explicit memory. I've marked down the date as the 20th of April and then I've marked down all the various things that I did on the 20th of April. Then I think on the 21st I did some of B and C. So you can see on the 21st of April when I active record these essay plans over here, wherever they are, I've marked them in the retrospective sheet. Then the idea is that the next time I do them, I'm marking the date for that and then I'm color-coding it in red, yellow, green, whatever depending on how well I knew at the time. So I've done this for all the essays that I memorized and I've done it for all of my subjects within psychology. So there's much more detail in the video specifically by the retrospective revision timetable where I explain exactly how it works, how I'd recommend using it and why I think it's better than a standard prospective revision timetable. That is the third prong of the memorization stage of the essay memorization framework. So that was an overview of the essay memorization frameworks that I used to systematically memorize about 45-50 different essay plans using a mixture of active recall, spatial repetitions, flashcards and spider diagrams. So that was the essay memorization framework. I hope you found that useful if you haven't seen the video already. If you haven't seen the video already, then I'm not sure why you're watching this video. That worked really well for me. That book of essay plans that I showed in the video it's still on my bookshelf to this day behind over there somewhere and it's still my pride and joy. I sometimes flip through that and think, wow, the amount of work I put in these third year exams.This is some good stuff. I wish I'd be able to apply that level of focus and dedication to more things that I do in my life like, YouTube or work or making this course or I don't know. That was the essay memorization framework. Thanks for watching and I'll see you in the next video. 24. The Active Recall Framework: We've got another video that again, I've released on YouTube under the title of something like how my friend ranked first in medical school. Because a friend of mine, basically, I gave a talk in in my third year when he was in his first year of med school about active recall and space repetition. So he took that idea and ran with that idea to its extreme, and basically just wrote questions for himself. If you haven't seen that video yet, I will include it in here and just for completeness sake. But if you have seen the video, obviously there's no need to watch this video in the class. Yeah, again this technique also combines active recall, it combines lack of taking notes, it combines a little bit of highlighting because the color code stuff in different ways. Hopefully you'll see how it applies, the techniques that we've already talked about in this class and maybe that'll work for you. Actually this is the technique that I used to this day because I avoid trying to take too many notes, what I do instead is I write questions. Sometimes I won't even write the answers to those questions. I just write the questions themselves because I know that I can always look at the answer if I need to and it's just a bit more efficient that way. Active recall framework coming up and I'll see you at the end. The method is as follows, basically, instead of ever writing any notes, instead of ever trying to summarize content from lectures or textbooks, what my friend I said did, is that all he did was just to write a ton of questions for himself and then when he was revising, he would just go over this questions over and over again and after a handful, maybe three or four repetitions of these questions, he pretty much knew everything and every subject inside out. How does this work? Let's hop into the laptop, as they say. These were the documents that he made for each of the subjects. We've got Hom, which is physiology, we've got Mims, which is biochemistry, and we've got Anatomy, which is anatomy. Let's start with Hom, which is physiology. Essentially, he's gone through the lecture notes and through a textbook alongside and he's basically converted everything into questions. The first lecture was about cell membranes and stuff. So his question is, what are some roles of the cell membrane? Then it was about control systems. When is ballistic controlled good and what's an example? Let's scroll down a bit to what's another topic. We've got muscles as another topic. What is the size of a motor unit? Determine what is the kinetic state diagram for this? Why is there a constant isometric force below 2.2- 2.0 microns? Basically a ton of questions, so 60 questions for muscles. For cardiology, we've got, how many questions is this? Wow, there's are lot of questions, my God. This, how you rank first in medical school. Wow, 216 questions for cardiology. It was a bit of a cardiology node, so he fleshed out the lecture notes with some information from textbooks. But again, never made any notes from the textbooks. All he did was just write questions for himself. More staff, respiratory questions from the lecture notes. A 100 plus, 158 quick questions about the kidneys. As you can see, he's basically got an entire like 37 page Google Docs that Word doc, literary, just filled with questions. He hasn't wasted anytime in making notes and in summarizing, all he has done is just write questions for himself. The idea is that he has done this for every subject. Then when he's sitting down to study, he decides in advance all on the date, what subjects he wants to sell you that day. Let's say he's doing anatomy and he wants to revise the upper limb. Then what he's going to do, he's going to open up his upper limb document. All it's going to do is he's going to go through the questions one by one and ask himself if he can feasibly answer those questions in his head. He doesn't really write anything down, he just tries to answer them out louder on his head. How does the median cubital vein run? Oh God, I can't remember that at all. What did the lucidum cells contain and where are they found? No idea, I don't even know those are a thing. Which two layers make up the dermis? Ooh, I probably should know that, but I really can't remember anyway. This is essentially all of the stuff for anatomy. Again, 34 pages of just questions. The method is, going through the lecture notes, going through textbooks. But what we all like to do by default is we like to highlight and make notes. For some reason we think it's useful to summarize our lecture notes or summarize a textbook or summarize a revision guide, I don't know. I think the theory is that we will read over our summaries and maybe highlight stuff and maybe ask ourselves questions but this is a purely active recall based method. All he's literally doing is just asking questions and answering them. Let's move on to why this method works. This whole method is based around the principle of active recall. I have been preaching about active recall for the literary the last two years and actually even longer than that since before I got this YouTube channel or just like in talks and lectures and stuff that I would give and be like active recall is literally that the best thing ever. It's the best thing ever because active recall is the single most efficient study technique that's ever been discovered. There was a mountain of evidence supporting it. I've got a 25 minute long video that I'll link in the video description and in a card up there somewhere, or I go through the evidence in much more detail. But essentially what active recall means is testing yourself. The reason testing ourselves is so amazingly valuable is because the way the brain works, it's all based around how many times and how much you retrieve information from your brain. We'll have this misconception that in order to study, we have to put stuff into our brains. But actually it's flipped on its head if you look at the evidence. The actual way to remember anything, to make anything stick is by retrieving information from our brains rather than trying to put it back in. Let's see, we read something once and we've understood a topic at that point, the most effective thing we can do with our time is ask ourselves questions about that topic. They've done loads of studies whereby they've taken a group of college students or high school students or whatever and they split them up into different groups and they'll teach all the groups exactly the same topic. One of the groups, they'll get them to reread it, for one of the groups they'll get them to make a mind map, for one of the groups they'll tell him to read it four times. For another group they'll make notes and for one of the groups, they'll just give them a test on the subject. Then if you look at the results afterwards, when they get tested maybe a week later, you'll find that the people that get tested, the people who did the active recall, who actively tried to retrieve the information rather than just reread it or make notes on it. Those are the people that performed significantly better in their exams and again, much more evidence in my evidence-based revision tips video, this is just an introduction. I don't think this can be stated enough. It's such a good revision technique to just test yourself on stuff that it's still baffles me that despite even watching some videos, maybe reading a book called Make It Stick, really good book to how to effectively learn or watching any of my friends, Thomas Frank's videos, all of the evidence around study tips is basically that active recall is the way forward and I'm waxing on about this for absolutely ages because they say that on average it takes about seven repetitions, seven times hearing the same concepts to really fully internalize it. I think the more people in the world hear about the good news of active recall. The better human productivity as a whole would be and the better our lives as students would be, because we'd have to spend less time studying and more time doing the things that actually matter to us. That's basically how the method works. I'll stopped running on about this now. Let's now talk about the method in a bit more detail, and I'll show you how you can use various different apps to achieve the same effect. Let's talk about this method in a bit more detail. One of the common questions about this method is, what do you do if you don't know the answer to one of the questions that you've written? At the start, we've gone through our lectures and we have just converted everything into just questions. We've gone through our textbook and we've just written questions for ourselves. But then when we're going through the questions, obviously there's going to be stuff that we don't remember the answer to. For example, if I read what is the capacitance of bio membranes? I might not remember that from the lecture notes, but the key thing of his aides method is that he never writes down the answer to these questions. He trusts that he'll be able to find the information in the lecture notes or in the textbook or on Google and therefore he doesn't have to waste the time to actually write down the answer for all of these. That's obviously benefit because it means we save time and it's a bit more efficient. But obviously the drawback is that then when we're going through stuff, it does take a little bit of time to then find the information in the right place. But this isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's not necessarily a bad thing that in order to get information we have to go back to our lecture notes because at least for us in Cambridge, lecture notes are usually quite well-structured and quite well organized and so the act of finding information in the lecture notes means that we'll be able to see what section the information's in. We are like, ''Okay, that's the capacitance of bio membranes,'' and we'll see where it fits into the bigger picture. Equally for having to go into a textbook. Textbooks are usually very well written because they've been around for years and they're written by clever people and stuff. If we're finding information in a textbook, again, we're going to be getting that information in the context of the rest of the subject and then maybe instead of just reading about the capacitance of bio membranes, will read a little bit more about bio membranes and understand the subject a little bit better. What I said it's doing is Number 1, the first part through the lecture, he's just converting into questions and then the second time he comes around to revise the subject. He's going to go through the questions, ask himself one by one and then what he does is that he's color-coding in red, for example, over here, the questions that he didn't know the answer to, so that the next time around if he's short on time, he won't go through every single question. He will just go through the questions that he's marked red. Let's say the third time around, if there are questions that he didn't get it the second time, he will mark them as blue and then the third time around he'll just go with the blue questions. This becomes a very efficient way of only doing the questions that we know we got wrong previously and obviously before the exam and at some point we want to be going through every single question because one of the other concepts in effective studying is called spaced repetition. Again, I'll link my video about that down here and it caught up there and you can check it out more. But basically the idea is that cramming is ineffective, it obviously works in the short-term. We've all done cramming for exams. But actually if we want information to stick over a very long-term period, we want to be repeating that information at spaced intervals to overcome what's called the forgetting effect or the forgetting curve that was discovered compiled by guy called Ebbinghaus in 1,800 I think. But yeah, more information in my space repetition video. Basically, it's all about active recall and spaced repetition and this method really works in that sense and we can see here he's even color-coded some of them in purple and I suspect those are the questions that he was a little bit struggling with on his fourth pass of doing these questions. This isn't the method that you can just do once and then forget about and then be like, ''Well, I haven't done any work for a year, therefore, I'm going to cram this in two days before the exam.'' You probably could, but it would be cramming, it wouldn't be long-term knowledge that would stick, whereas doing this and applying spaced repetition to it would really be magical. I'll just show you how I would apply this method personally. Active recall is the best thing ever. I've been using variants of this method for a few years now. I just haven't used them as well as the site has because I feel I get lazy and I'm not great, but he is really good at to actually doing the work. Anyway, the other day I was preparing for a supervision where I'm teaching physiology and so I was going through the heart and circulation lecture notes and I was basically doing a sage method of going through them and writing out questions for myself. Again, here I'm using the app notion, link below, I've linked a few of my videos on that if you care. But I think notion is really good because they've got this toggle feature, which means what I can do is I can, for example, if I go into fetal circulation, what I've done is I've written questions to myself. Why does the fetal circulation needs to be special? What does the oxygen dissociation curve look like? Various adaptations fetal shunts. I've written these questions myself, but if I were a student, I would just write the questions and not the answer. But because at the moment, I'm not really in the market for just memorizing information, I've written the answer down to some of these as well, again, through a toggle box. Actually haven't written down the answer to that because this weird, but what I do is that for questions that I know the answer to or that I know I can figure out the answer to or I now to find the answer ease in the lecture notes, then I won't bother writing it down. Why do the fetal circulation need to be special? Clearly, that's because we need to overcome the problem that when your fetus are inside your mom, you don't have any lungs that work. Therefore, you need to get your oxygen from the mother's placental blood flow and all that stuff. Therefore, you need to be adapted and your hemoglobin needs to be adapted and your circulation needs to be adapted to try and get oxygen out of the mother's blood and I know this. I have written the question for myself, but I don't need to waste the time writing the answer because I know and if I ever get to the point where I read that question and think, ''I don't know what the answer is, then I will go back to the lecture notes. But I'm just trying to be efficient in minimizing the amount of information I'm having to put into my notes because as we've said and as all the evidence shows, summarizing information, taking notes with the book open is just not a very effective way of studying. Anyway, this one, what is the oxygen dissociation curve for hemoglobin look like comparing maternal versus fetal? I know what it looks like in my head and so when I see that question, I'll be drawing it out in my head, maybe I'll draw on paper if I feel like it. But crucially, I've actually included the oxygen dissociation curve in this toggle box and this is very easy to do. Here is a screencast of myself making these notes because I'd screen recording myself just in case was going to make one of these videos and you can see that on the left-hand side I've got the lecture notes open and on the right-hand side I'm creating this document in notion and what I'm doing is that for a lot of the stuff, I'm just screen grabbing bits from the lecture notes, I'm not copying and pasting, I'm rarely writing it out myself. I'm just using the screenshot, screen grab shortcut on the Mac to select a particular area of the screen, shoving it into notion and then that makes it easier for me to find this graph when I need to see it. I can immediately look at this graph now and think that's why I thought this dissociation curve hemoglobin look like and then I can untoggle this and move on. What are the various adaptations of the fetal circulation? Number 1, 2, 3, so these are stuff that I wrote down because in the lecture notes this was in a few different sections. I just thought, ''You know what, I'm going to take 10 seconds just to type out what these answers are.'' But for example, if I looked at fetal hemoglobin relinquish that oxygen at lower oxygen tension's. If that sentence didn't make sense to me, I wouldn't just take it at face value, I would obviously go back to the lecture notes or go back to my textbook and figure out what I'm struggling with, why the sentence doesn't make sense to me and workout, try and understand what's going on. It's all very well at doing active recall. Is all very well doing space repetition and doing all of this stuff. But really the thing that trumps all of these things is to understand the content. There is literally no point in just memorizing facts if we don't understand the broad principles that underlie them and so as I'm going through these questions as any of my friends who do effective studying as we're going through our questions but trying to understand the topic. If we ever get to a point where we're like, ''I'm not quite sure what that means,'' we will take the time to look it up because especially with effective learning. Again, there is misconception that learning should be easy. That the best way to learn is by finding a really condensed set of notes and just reading it and getting that information into our heads. But again, it's the other way around. It's the more effortful, the more hard it feels to be learning something, the more we're actually going to be learning it and there's so much evidence where people have done studies and students where they rate how hard they found the subject and how hard it was to learn about it and you find that those students perform better on the exam and learn more consistently and have that knowledge for a longer period of time. Because as we're grappling with stuff, as we're putting effort into learning our brain is forming these connections. The way I think of it as like going to the gym and it's like, if I can bench press 80 kilograms, I wish, I could probably bench press about 70 kilograms. But when I Bench 70 kilograms, that is effortful. That is when my muscles are going to grow, whereas when I bench 20 kilograms, then basically nothing's going to happen because it's easy. It's the same with studying, like when it's difficult, we are actively forming connections in our brain and then we sleep and then those cool connections get solidified. When it feels easy, when we're just reading and highlighting and making notes is really easy. That's why we love doing it because it feels really productive. We go through a pretty colors and we write down stuff, but we're not actually using our brains and the more we use our brains the more effortful learning is, the more its information is going to stick. Anyway, next one, what are fetal shunt and what do they do? Again, I wrote some brief notes here, foramen ovale RA to LA because fetal lungs don't work. This information makes perfect sense to me. But, for example, if you are a first year medical students studying this for the first time and looking at my notes, you'd see RA to LA because fetal lungs don't work. What the hell does that mean? It's information that requires more context. Note-taking again, I'm going to make a video about this. It's a balance of compression versus context. Textbooks and lecture notes have a lot of contexts, they're very long, very broad, but they give you the context, they help you understand the topic. Whereas when we take notes, we have compressed all the information down and so when I see RA to LA because fetal lungs don't work, I know immediately exactly what that means. I could explain it to a five-year-old if I wanted to. But if a first-year medic who had never done the subject before, where to see that they will understand it. That would be a case of going into the textbook and actually understanding what's going on, coming back to this idea of understanding and then I've just done this for all of the stuff within cardiology so far so cardiac cycle I've written about the phases, intrinsic regulation. What we're Frankin Stalin's famous experiments? At this point I'd read the question, I think something about a dog hot preparation and then experiment 1 increased preload, experiment 2 there should be something there. But I've just literally screen grab stuff from the lecture notes and a diagram just to save me a little bit of time. But I think if I were actually studying the subject, if I were actually taking exams, I probably won't even write on the answer, I would force myself to go into the lecture notes or go into the textbook and find the answer. Long story short, basically this is as said magical method for active recall. The reason he actually came about this method was that in 2015, I gave a talk at the University about how to study for exams. Because in 2015, I was studying psychology for my third year and I've been actively looking into all of this evidence-based study tips in and all that stuff and initially I was supposed to be giving a talk at the Islamic society prayer room for like five people because no one turns up. But we made a Facebook Event and suddenly people started sharing it amongst the other members of the university and then I think at the end of it, like 20,000 people had viewed the event according to the analytics, instead of seven unlike a 100 and something people turned up to the event and so we had to expand the venue and it's doing one of the colleges. But in this talk, I basically talked about the magic of active recall, the magical space repetition and when my friend had said he heard that he was like, ''We're done.'' From that point onwards, for the next two months, all he did was create these questions for himself. The cool thing is that he didn't do that much like that much anal work for the rest of the year that sounds weird. He kept up with his essays and he understood the subject and read a few textbooks and lecture notes just to keep on top of things. But it was only two months before the exam in the Easter term that he discovered this magic of active recall and spent the rest of the two months making these questions and answering them. If he were to have started that method from day one, I suspect and wanted to put in the effort of a very long-term period of time for the whole year, I suspect that would have been even more efficient and he would have been spent even less time studying. Anyway, yeah, this has been a very long, very ramble video basically explaining this concept of if you want to do very well in your exams, is really all about testing yourself and this is testing yourself. This is the concept of active recall, taken to its logical extreme, where you're not spending any time at all writing notes because that's a waste of time. You're spending 100 percent of your time writing questions for yourself and then answering those questions, dredging up the information from our brains and then solidifying those connections. Thank you so much for watching. That was the active recall framework. Thank you very much for watching and I will see you in the next video. 25. BONUS - How to Use Anki Flashcards Properly: Hi guys, welcome back. This is another bonus segment, and this is a fairly lengthy discussion that my friend Asid and I were having about how to use flashcards properly and the appropriate settings for Anki and how we think about building, almost like building a second brain using Anki as your flashcard app. The advice in here can apply to any flashcard app, but to be honest, Anki is the most famous one, it's the best one, is an open source. It's free except on iOS we have to pay 20 quid for it, it's totally worth it. This is the discussion between me and Asid, about how to use Anki properly. Hope you enjoy it and I'll see you at the end. Anki is your Bible? The Anki decks. The material on the backs of the cards. Yeah. That I learn in a somewhat religious way. Whereas these offhand notes which I make really have no real importance to me. Unless I put it into Anki and make an active decision to learn it, I may as well never written it down. You treat Anki as an extension of your brain? Absolutely. If something is an Anki, it will be uploaded to your brain to some point? Absolutely. Are all of your notes from medical school? In Anki do you use pre-made decks? How do you use Anki? As I said in preclinical, my way of studying was oriented towards learning information incredibly quickly for the exam. In clinical, because I actually want to remember this beyond just the exams, I use Anki because it facilitates long-term retention. As I mentioned, Anki is an extension of my brain. Now, the thing with clinical medicine is that it's somewhat universal discipline and it's not that Cambridge where we're told that Cambridge is going to be radically different to anywhere else. Whereas the specific undergrad curriculum that we have at Cambridge is quite specific to your Cambridge. What that means is that you can use decks other people have made. For example, for the US only step one, there are amazing decks out there, there's a deck on pathoma for pathology which I found really useful. My housemate, he made a deck based on [inaudible] , which I can incredibly use when in the run up to the exams planning the clinically oriented material that wasn't in the US MLA Yeah. Other than that, there are some decks which I have made myself, which have been specific to particular exams. Actually for ethics and law, I didn't make it deck. One of my friend sat now, he made a deck and really shared it with me and that was pretty much all I use for the exam. But separately for the SBA exam, I made another deck which was based on Oxford Assessing Progress. Yeah. Now, I never actually had time to go through that deck before the exam, but the information in that deck is something which I do intend to learn for my clinical practice. If it goes in Anki, you have decreed it legit information enough to be [inaudible]? Absolutely. Interesting. Because it seems like in the US, it seems like the majority med school, US med strategy is based around Anki. Yeah. Is make sense? Because the perfect think geared up to this stuff unlike your word document active record framework, my Google Sheets, space repetition method and all this stuff. These are all hacks for when you have to cram for an exam. Exactly. That's like two months away or if not less time away. Whereas Anki it's like [inaudible]. There are ways of using Anki. Yeah. Not really how it was intended, but to achieve that same objective. Like cramming. Where you essentially cram information on Anki. I found if you do a deck twice. Yeah. If you get cards right twice, that's often enough for an exam that you have which is just around the corner. The reason I say that is the first time when you're learning the information, it's not synthesized with the rest of the information. You'll learn individual facts, but they're going to come together in your mind. It's the second time you go through the information that you'll link cards to other cards. Like any model. Any model conceptually. Do you think it's okay the first time around, because one of the issues that I have a lucky personally and I know a lot of people struggle with is that, it becomes very easy to lose the forest from the trees. How do you deal with that or do you just accept that? Yeah. First time around, I'm just going to do these in isolation and I'll build up the model at the time. Well, no. As I said, I can't bring myself to learn a card unless I understand what's going on. I would never just really memorize a card, except in very rare, exceptional situations. That would usually be some logic for why the structure is added it as it is or the answer is what it is. Having said that even if you can understand a card in isolation, it doesn't mean that necessarily you can synthesize all the cards and the coherent framework in your mind at that point. That's what the second run through facilitates. Honestly, even the third run through, it's like watching a complex film many times. Each time you watch it, you realize more, you understand a bit more. Have you seen a Dunkirk? I've seen it once. I've seen it once. The first time I did not realize the three storylines were happening. I just didn't realize. I treated them as if it were just one continuous thing. This is what I felt, but I know that if I were to watch a second time, with that knowledge suddenly a lot more things that makes it. Absolutely, as in having that foundation laid where you have the ability to recall other cards, even if you can't do in a very crisp way, means you can start linking information together and synthesizing the cards together into a more coherent picture in your mind. That's why actually in some ways and key allows you to memorize in order to understand. Yeah, I always felt uneasy with that concept. The way that I would like to be able to approach things is to start off with a broad brush strokes. These are the 30 topics within cardiology and here's how they relate to one another. Now, I'll use Anki to blitz memorize the second points about each of them. I would say understanding is an iterative process and understanding is price memorization. Yeah. For me at least. Yeah. I understand each card and then memorize it. Yeah. But when I do the cards in the second time, there might be a bit of a tension between one card that I'm currently doing and another card which I have in my memory that might be a bit of a conflict and the information that. In order to try and resolve that, in order to harmonize the two, that process will increase my level of understanding. Anki facilitates that because it lets you essentially memorize everything. You shouldn't expect to have that really high level synthetic level of understanding at that stage because you haven't filled in, you haven't really battle tested your understanding by testing the everything is coherent, and by bringing up this piece of information, Anki is really testing you. Is your knowledge coherent? Is your understanding coherent? The image that comes to mind is like a 64 bits pixel drawing or something, whereby each Anki card is an individual pixel. Over time, as you learn more and more pixels, you start to see the bigger picture and that only when you really step back. Absolutely. Once you've got all the pixels in place, you say, "Oh, I now see the big effect." You're also forgetting pixels. The forgetting curve, space repetition, all that stuff. A lot of people say that there's a lot of value in making your own flashcards. I wonder what you think about that because I probably don't agree with advice. I don't have any evidence either for or against. The advantage with making your own flashcards is that you will most likely understand, unless you've copied and pasted them. Usually when I use decks made by other people, I have to spend a little while on each card making sure that I actually understand the card. I would still say that the net time taken is significantly less than were I to actually try and make a deck myself, but it's definitely easier to learn a deck the first time that I've already made than say a deck that I got from someone else. If you were to go through medical school again from day one, you would use Anki all the way, basically. Those are the duty who came second and while you are not really different, all of the subjects who was Anki from day one and that was it. But yeah, as I said, I mean, I didn't particularly like using Anki back in first or second year just because it took a lot more time than just practicing our questions where the answers were in the notes. Because it forces you to review things, the rate at which you can progress and learn new information is substantially lower. Because you've got these 80 cards to review before getting new material. Absolutely, and I think to a certain degree in the first two years, the knowledge that you are learning isn't necessarily something that you want to keep forever. Yeah. A lot of it you will forget. Whereas in clinical medicine, to a much larger degree, this is something ideally you want to remember for the rest of your career. I think Anki is a very versatile tool and you can use it in multiple ways. You can essentially do this question method on Anki. You can just write the questions on the front of the card and just learn it like that. I mean, it's essentially exactly the same thing. Or you can do a more comprehensive way where you write out all the answers and then I actually do the reviews. I think again, it depends what you want out of it, whether you want to cram, to learn some information for the exam which you won't really need in the future. Whether this is something which ideally you want to know for life. I've read quite a few bits on the Internet about how to use Anki properly and some people say that, well, each flashcard should only have one fact on it. You shouldn't be tested on one fact per flashcard. Yet for me, when I was in my third year I was using Anki to memorize the entire paragraphs for essays and things, which is probably not the intended use for Anki and certainly doesn't go into this one fact per flashcard. How do you approach this? Yeah, for me it's not one fact per flashcard, but it's one concept per flashcard. A concept can be deep. It can have multiple things in it. For example, one treatment protocol, I will consider as one concept. I think there's a risk where if you only learn one factor at a time, it's very difficult to actually re-sense this size of information on the spot. You'll have a lot of disconnected information at the time in your mind, which it's hard to really recruits and recall. For example, if you would, atrial fibrillation be a single flashcard. For instance, atrial fibrillation may be in a particular context, such as how you can manage paroxysmal atrial fibrillation might be a particular flashcard where with the first, second line, and third. But you won't have separate flashcards for first line, process line, second line, third line? No. I would stick to [inaudible] that kind of thing. Because you're fragmenting the concept that there should be some reason in your mind why something is prioritized over another and if you split them up, it will cause a thing that you lose that bigger picture understanding. Yeah. What we're saying then is that overall Anki is a great tool for hacking our memory because of the active recall and special position which as we both know the most efficient study techniques. Yet there is this tension that actually overall throughout like you want to build up this mental model of the subjects, you want this thread of understanding to run through everything and there is a danger that if you just wrote memorize with flashcards, which you can do quite easily with Anki, that you will miss the forest. Absolutely. I suppose it's about keeping that in the back of our minds and being aware when we are in memorization mode of me like okay, I'm just memorizing stuff. But really if someone asks me to explain liver cirrhosis, I probably won't be able to because all I have is these isolated type. Well, I can tell you what [inaudible] really done that well in liver cirrhosis Yeah, exactly. Do you have any other tips for Anki, what Anki as flashcards while we're on that topic. Just because I know you know the component of it. Yeah, I would say it is probably worth playing around with some of the settings on Anki. There's a particular website which I can't recall at this point. Yeah. I know what you mean, I'll put the link in the video description or wherever people are watching this. Yeah, but I think what's probably most useful at least from my perspective, is changing the actual intervals with which you test yourself. I think the standard Anki intervals are one and 15. If you get it right, it'll ask you again 15 minutes later, if you get it wrong and asked me one minute later, then if you get it right then 15 minutes later. My intervals, you know what, let me check what are they. This is my deck setup. Okay. What does those all mean? Basically, I do not have a one minutes interval, which means if I get things wrong, it will ask me 15 minutes later which means I have to retain information for quite a long time before it count as memorized. On top of that, on the Converse, it actually facilitates quick learning. Yeah, I hate the one minute interval. By contrast, if you know something, the next time it will show it to you is one and a half days later, so that's the next interval, 2,160 minutes. The third interval, 10,080, is seven days later, and the fourth interval is 28 days later. Wow, okay. What this means is it's basically only when you can remember something after 28 days that it really counts as you having learned it. As opposed to when in the typical setup where after you getting it right after 15 minutes, it considers that you've learnt it. Then it goes into its own review calculation, which when it calculates how long to space between reviews, it has its own calculation algorithm which can basically create problems where if you start getting things wrong multiple times, then it's very difficult to increase the interval backup again until you keep being tested on the card again and again when you don't necessarily need to be tested on it. That's where you to find frustrating about the default Anki settings. Whereas this makes sure that doesn't happen because in order for a card to graduate, to that review stage, I mean, you have to remember after 28 days, which already indicates a very high level of retention. What about the other options in here, do you have anything else in there particularly? The other ones aren't really too significant to be honest. The launch reviews is per day a 1,000? I mean, again, that's something you can just change. Do you do 1,000 reviews a day? No, however many I feel like. I've just put my reviews at 1,000, whatever they are it does share me because I didn't typically have more than that. I'd say that the main benefit of this is that it facilitates a deeper learning, because you have to record for 15 minutes. Also if you do already know things, you can get through a deck faster. Because you don't have to do the things twice on the same day, you only have to do it once. You only have to get it right once on the first day as I've said twice. Can you talk us through just what your deck looks like at the moment. So if I go back to the decks. This at the top is the ethics and law deck, which Satnam made, and he gave for me based on under the lecture notes for that. That's something which I basically crammed before the exam. This is my step 1 master deck here, which has all of the information from some of the step 1, which is the Zanki deck plus a few. I mean, I've edit the cards myself. Now there are a few different subdecks here. Because sometimes there are some topics that I want to focus on. Is that subdecks that you've created? Yeah, so for instance, sounds has cardiac sounds and respiratory sounds in it. Does like actual files? Yeah. Actual auscultation. Is to train me to recognize this. You've done that because they were in the master deck and you just filter them, the tags or something? Exactly. Actually I mean, right now sounds has some other stuff in it as well, but that's initially what it was for. Subdeck 2, I think has neuronn in it, subdeck 3, I think has psychiatry in it. Subdeck 4 has cardio and renal. At this point I can't remember what I put in subdeck 5 and 6. You find it handy to split this up into subdecks, I guess. It lets me study one thing at a time. Yeah, and that make sense rather than getting a random fact from renal and then run a fact from neurology. Absolutely, but when I've learned them, I'll move them back into the master deck. Why do that? In the sense that I'll put them in the subdeck, so that I can learn them quickly. Getting derailed by the subjects. Exactly. You thinking today is going to be my renal day. Exactly. [inaudible]. I'll put the renal parts in another deck. Do the renal cards. Then I can go back to my main deck and do the reviews for the day. Without having to finish all the renal card necessarily. But then when I have learned renal, I'll move it back into the main deck. How often do you just review these as when you feel like it? Yeah, I mean, as I say, I haven't really done this since May, but before that I was doing it quite regularly. Yeah, sure. Then this is Doc's Internal Medicine Deck and another deck from Reddit. This isn't something I really used that much. I'm not sure whether I will use it. Duke's Pathoma deck is the deck that I used in the run-up to all SBA exams in fifth year. There were quite a few subjects I had done with Zanki, but there were a lot of other ones which I hadn't done. About half of the topics within medicine I hadn't covered a few weeks time. Because you hung around to it. Exactly. With Zanki, again, you have that structure where each card has one piece of information usually, whereas Duke's deck relatively has a lot more information on each card, which isn't great for long-term retention so much, but it means you can learn a lot faster. If you're cramming for an exam. If you're cramming, exactly. So going back to the Zanki, is that based on Pathoma? Zanki is based on Pathoma and first aid for step 1. So is it that you download the deck and then you just start going from it, or how is there some level of you hide all the cards apart from the subject? I suspend all the cards and then I unsuspend the ones that I want to study. But the ones after I've learned them, and I'm reviewing them, I won't resuspend them, instead of keep going through the reviews. That's why I use decks to separate subjects within unsuspended cards. Within unsuspended cards. So within this step 1 master deck, you probably still got loads of suspended cards that you haven't yet covered? Absolutely. But then, let's say one day you decide, you know what I'm going to do all cardiology today? Yeah. You will unsuspend all of the cardiology cards? I will unsuspend cardiology, I'll do cardiology. Now, say I want to do renal, I'll unsuspected renal, but cardiology is also unsuspended, so I'll move renal into another deck. Got it. I separate them. So while you are doing renal itself on the day, it's in a separate deck, so you can just bash bash renal. Focus on that. But then later on. Later on I am moving renal to the main deck. Now you're reviewing renal on cardiology, which is a subjects you not familiar with. Now I'll move maybe psychiatry into another deck. I suppose said that helps solve this conundrum, if you took all of medicine, just start randomly learning these 10,000 I think about, you would not understand a thing. Absolutely. But with this method, you can take one subject at a time and in a way you can have had an active subjects, activity bashing through just that subject. Then you've go to the back of reviews of stuff that you've already done. Absolutely. That's really going to take it. I mean, even within renal, I'll do the physiology and anatomy first, and then do the pathology, again, to make sure I've understood what's going on before I learn what's going on. So for example, the Zanki deck is tax. Is tax, yeah according to that division. You can just run a query of Anki and say, find me here. We don't even need to run a query. You just use a tab browser. Select renal plus anatomy, and then you'll get all the cards and type of renal and asked them. Exactly. That's pretty good. What about for decks that your friends might take, can I have a look at this one? So if we browse through this deck, what do these cards generally look like? So I mean, this is renal deck again, which is based on ethics and law. Can I get through this? Eight principles of confidentiality. Well, a lot of information per flashcard.. This is information dense, but it gets was learning very quickly for the exam. So this is an information necessarily you'd want to retain absolutely forever. Well, no. Sound, I'd forgotten this pretty good. If we go back, if you go to browse and I'm just trying to see, I mean, so again, you've got. Describe all book versus GMC 2005. Case description here? Yeah. So this is how I was using Anki in my third year, where I'd have on, for example, badly H 1972 memory experiment. Then I've instead of experiment, they didn't know what the results of it were in. Absolutely. So it seems like we can use Anki just basically as a second brain of thoughts. For stuff like medicine. With the caveat actually for conceptual things perhaps. I mean, Anki is also good for conceptual things. It is, I mean, I can show you instead one of the cards I have. Let's see. It might be in here. Because in my second or third year when I was using Anki properly, it was an extension of my brain. It was as if the instant I added something to my Anki, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that that would be uploaded to my brain, just by virtue the fact that I was going through Anki for several hours each day. I was certainly a nice place to be because it just simplified everything. I mean, that's exactly what you want to sort of really to serve. This is an example of a very, very information rich card, but it's actually just entirely one concept. What's close ATPase pump in the luminal membrane of the g-intercalated cells is stimulated by aldosterone. What is the purpose? Other effects? So basically this is considering the role that aldosterone plays in generating a contraction alkalosis with the paradoxic aciduria. It's relatively complex. I mean, there are three ways, but even within those ways there are sub in the categories. CB spending a long time over this. So in the sense that I would spend a long time on this card, but in reality, it's all one concept. Yeah. That one concept like loads like that whole exploration follows from one concept. Absolutely. Once you've understood that, it all make sense rather than it being distinctive facts that you have to memorize each time. Exactly. Interesting. This is Anki card over. This was a Zanki card, which I've edited. So you're you're comfortable just adding stuff to flashcards, just to flash them out and add, because you don't, as you said, you want to be able to understand stuff. So if you see something in Zanki in a pre-med Anki deck that you don't understand, you just Google it, bla, bla, and then you add the information to the card? Yeah. I mean, honestly, in order to understand this one, I feel like I spent six hours just googling until I found the answer. But after that, I felt like the whole of renal medicine just opened up to me. Interesting. I just going to check these cards up. It was the key in many ways. Fantastic. You're having on the premier decks, you have your on understanding before memorizing? Yeah. Even though you can use Anki to, in a way, memorize before you understand, like alongside as you're doing your card, you don't just take things at face value? No. If something doesn't make sense, you will spend the time googling it. Absolutely. You wouldn't think you're wasting your time because actually you've got efficiency setting in the long run. Yeah. I mean, absolutely. I mean, that research in order to understand why card is the way it is for me is in some ways irresistible as I was saying before. So I could spend hours really trying to understand a particular card and for me that would be interesting. So I wouldn't really consider it a waste of time. Well, you've inspired me to get a pathogenesis prescription tonight and get this Anki deck. So this is the discussion between me and said about how to use flashcards, specifically, Anki properly, and how to think about it. So I hope you enjoy it. 26. Motivation Is a Myth: All right, welcome back. We are now moving on to step three of the class, and that is about focus. We've talked about step one, which is understanding, and step two, which is remembering. But permeating both of those steps is this idea of focus. We need to actually sit down and do the work in the first place. Then when we're sitting down to doing the work in the first place, we need to not get distracted while we're doing the work, and related to that, we need to be able to take breaks appropriately, and we need to not burn ourselves out studying, because that would just be bad for our physical health and our mental health, and it would also be quite bad for our exam results. Those are the topics that we're going to be talking about in this focus section. In this video, I want to share my tactic for dealing with motivation issues, and part of that is the phrase that motivation is a myth. I've talked about this a few times, in a couple of different videos and podcasts and stuff, but I haven't really fully explained it. The reason, motivation is a myth, is because motivation,like what is motivation? We only need motivation to do the things that we don't want to do. Usually those are things that require a short-term pain in order for it to get long-term gain. We never say, "I need motivation to sit down and watch Netflix, or need motivation hangout with my friends. We say, "I need motivation to work, and I need motivation to go to the gym " Because we know that those are not very pleasant in the short-term, but actually lead to good results in the long-term. The way our human psychology works is that we tend to very much overweight short-term benefits rather than long-term benefits. Because especially if it's like, I need to do whether my exam so that I can get a job in 10 years time. That's far too long-term to actually be a reliable method of motivating us in the present. Why is motivation a myth? Well, I think the gold standard approach is to just scrub the word motivation from our vocabulary, and replace the concept of motivation with the concept of discipline. There's an article on a website called whisk domination, we shall link on the bit of this class, which basically says that screw motivation, what you need is discipline. They argue that the thought of I should do this thing, and then there's the action of doing the thing itself. Motivation lies in the middle, It's like we have the thought I should do this thing. Motivation is when we say, I need to feel like doing this thing and the action is then just doing the thing itself. What this article argues and why I completely agree with, is that there is absolutely no need for us to feel like we're doing something before we do the thing. This morning filming this class, I didn't feel like filming this class, but I did it anyway because I recognize that the way I feel is completely inconsequential, to whether I do the thing or not at all. There's a few other bits in the article that there are quite nice. It says that I think I won't pull the article that say that, "a three-year-old bases its decisions on what it feels like, an adult bases its decisions on what it knows it needs to be doing" Today when filming this class, I was trying to be an adult but you know what, I'm going to sit down and I'm going to do it as opposed to I need to get myself to feel like doing it first. The idea of motivation is this infantile fantasy that we need to feel like doing something before we actually do it. In fact, we can just operate discipline and just do the thing anyway, that's a gold standard. Realistically, I have motivation problems same as anyone else. Especially, when it comes to going to the gym. I don't mind sitting down and filming this class because quite fun, I don't mind studying, quite fun, but I really don't enjoy going to the gym. Therefore, I need to motivate myself to go to the gym. I recognize that, yes, in an ideal world, the word motivation wouldn't even be in my vocabulary. In an ideal world, I would, as Nike would say, "just do it" I would just go to the gym, but it's hard. Personally, I've got a few different ways that I use to help me pick up the motivation to overcome that activation energy to actually sit down and do the work in the first place. I'll break down how I think about this and then hopefully you can take the concept if you like, and you can apply it to your own life. But essentially, when do we need motivation for stuff? We need motivation for stuff, where the short-term it's not very pleasant. Usually where the consequences for not doing the thing are not very great. For example, if I told you I would give you a million pounds to sit down and do your homework, you would jolly well sit down and do your homework, it's not hard. If I told you that if you don't do your homework, you're going to die, you would jolly down and do your homework. But usually we don't operate within those extremes of motivation, because there is no need for motivation there. Because in one circumstance, the outcome is so pleasurable in the here and now that work, we're going to do the work. In the other one, the punishment for not doing the thing is so great that we're going to do the thing. Those are the two elements of it. It's like how pleasurable is this thing to do, versus how punishing is the alternative of not doing it. Those are the domains that I think we can target when it comes to motivation. The way that this works for me, is that when I sit down to study, I want it to be a pleasant process. Often, I'll go to a nice library or a hipster coffee shop was still on my desk and make sure my desk is clean, so it's a nice process. I'll make myself a cup of coffee or buy a cheeky latte, and I'll have my Spotify study with me, playlists playing through my headphones, so that overall it makes the process of studying more pleasant or less unpleasant. With enough of these techniques for me personally and because I enjoy my subject and I treat it like a game. That's not useful tactic to treat studying as again, because then it makes it more fun. I enjoy studying enough to the point that I don't really need to motivate myself to study anymore, because it's just fun to do. Equally the other way of addressing this quandary, is by targeting the punishment aspect of it. There's a few of these websites where, let's say you make a commitment that you're going to lose 10 kilograms in the next six months, then six months later, if you haven't lost a 10 kilograms, it will debit, let's say 1,000 pounds from your account, and donate it to charity. It even would donate to the KKK or whatever you want. The idea is that the punishment for not doing the task is so great that it's going to make us want to do the task in the first place. The other technique is that some people find helpful for this. Is let's say I was genuinely serious about wanting to go to the gym every day. I would give a 1,000 pounds to my housemate Molly and say, Molly, "this 1,000 pounds is yours, keep it safe, if there's ever a single day where I didn't go to the gym without a very good excuse, then you can do whatever you want with that 1,000 pounds, it is now yours. Now I've hacked my motivation equation because now there is a big punishment for me to not go to the gym. Therefore, I'm more likely to go to the gym. Those are just some of the ways that we can target this motivation thing. I think step one is to recognize the idea of motivation is an infantile fantasy that I have to feel like doing work before I sit down and do work. Sometimes I don't feel like going to work in the morning. I still go to work in the morning, it's not an option. But for some reason, we don't treat our study lives or our hobbies or physical health or our mental health with the same level of professionalism that we treat our work like. It wouldn't be an option for me to not go to work, because I don't want to get fired, I don't want to let the team down, etc. But I'm quite happy to not go to the gym, because it's only my body that I'm screwing up from. I'm quite happy to get a takeaway like ordered pizza today rather than cooks having healthy, because it's only my body, and I don't know why that is. Anyway the top-line gold standard is that motivation is a myth and that we should scrub the word motivation from a vocabulary. But we can recognize that is an ideal that most of us don't attain, including me. We can then try and make the thing more pleasurable or try and make the alternative more unpleasant. When it comes to studying what I will do, is go to a different coffee shops, and save a budget of 20 pounds for the day. I'll be like, you know what, I'm allowed to buy whatever I want from this coffee shop up to 20 pounds, and that's like six lattes worth. Overall of that, just like experience makes studying much more pleasant. He could have quite enjoy going to the library or studying with friends. Because again, it just makes the act of doing it more pleasurable and that means I'm more likely to do it. Those are just some thoughts of motivation. There is a good book called "The Motivation Myth" which you can read if you'd like. That talks about this in a bit more detail and I'll link to this Wisdom Motivation article. Like that changed the game for me when it came to thinking about motivation as being a myth and discipline as being the thing to go with, by link that in the show notes or wherever ends up being. Thanks for watching and I'll see you in the next video. 27. How to Reduce Distractions: All right. So we have plucked up officially the motivation, or rather the discipline to sit down and do the studying. Now how do we not get distracted by our phone, by the internet, by something else, a bird flying through the window. How do we not get distracted while doing our work? Well, firstly, I think that comes from enjoying the thing that we're doing. Again, we tend not to get distracted from watching Netflix. We tend not to get distracted from hanging out with friends or playing sports. We tend to get distracted from doing work. Why is that? Often because it's not that fun. I sometimes to me when I'm in that real like flow state where I'm really enjoying what I'm doing, I look up and look at the time, I like damn an hour has passed and I just never noticed it. I didn't even think about getting distracted because I was really enjoying what I was doing and it was fully immersed in it. So that's point number one, like if you can enjoy your subject and even if you don't enjoy it, if you can like really fully focused on it. There's a book by Cal Newport called Deep Work. He talks about this idea of like really deep intense focus on something. That level of focus, this flow state is generally very pleasurable, says the evidence about this stuff. So that means we're less likely to be distracted. The other culprits of things that distract us are firstly, a phone. So what I do if I'm studying as I would turn my phone to do not disturb and I would put it face down on the table in front of me or in my bag, or even sometimes if I'm really desperate, I would put it in a different room. Sometimes people say, "What if there's an emergency?" But realistically, when was the last time you had an emergency that you genuinely needed to respond to on your phone. If there is an emergency, the do not disturb setting I think lets people call you if they ring twice in a row or you can setup safe people that, if my mother calls me or if my kid calls me, then the phone will ring. But if anyone else messages, then it won't. So that's another super easy thing to do because even to this day, I find myself scrolling through Instagram and be, "How many like have I got on that pic? " Whereas if the phone is face down on silent mode or in a different room entirely, then I just don't think about it. I just do my thing. There's a few other things we can do with the phone. We can increase the amount of friction that it takes to do bad things on the phone. So for example, what my brother does is that he uninstalled Instagram, the app from his phone. So in order to go on Instagram, he has to go on Safari, go to, login, and then he's on Instagram. Those added few steps, mean that he is significantly less likely to actually go on Instagram. Well another friend of mine does is that she buries her social media apps in some random folder on page eight of the iPhone. In order to get there she has to scroll, page eight, click on the folder and then click on Instagram. That supposedly is enough friction to make her not go on Instagram. In fact like that friction is great because like while we're doing the thing, it just gives our brain a chance to think, do I really want to be doing this? Is this really a good use of my time? On that note, one technique that I found that completely transformed my sleep as the fact that I now put the phone across the room from me. On days I find where I'm like, "I'll just go on my phone for five minutes." I end up staying up for like 20 minutes. So like even two hours sometimes, while I've got work the next morning at 6:00 AM. End up staying up for an extra two hours until 3:00 AM, just scrolling through Instagram on my phone and hating myself for doing it. But on the days where I leave the phone on the bedside across the room on the chest of drawers. I don't get distracted from it and then I get a much better night sleep and I'm much happier for it. There's a few other things you can do. There's all these apps to block apps from your phone, from your computer, self-control and stuff blocks Facebook and there's all these Chrome extensions to remove your Facebook feed if that's what distracts you. Another thing you can do is you can set your phone to gray scale. So if you just Google, I think on an iPhone you can do it in the accessibility options and display options. So just removes all the color from your phone. Seeing your phone in gray scale, that's a bit grim. Then it just makes us less likely to want to go on our phone because it's in gray scale, that's another thing you can do. But all of these are basically hacks to try and help us focus. Whereas I think the main thing is to just be able to enjoy the subject and to focus intently on it. Because if we're doing that, then it becomes fun and then we don't feel the need to get distracted by all the other bits and bobs. If you have any other methods for helping reduce distractions, I would love to hear that comment in the discussion below this video and we can all learn from each other and share our tips on how to combat distraction. But yeah, for me the main thing, phone on silent or Do Not Disturb rather, so I don't even get notifications, face down, across the table from me, or even in a different room. That's how I cop with distractions. So I hope you found that video very useful and I will see you in the next video. 28. The Pomodoro Technique - Pros and Cons: We have developed the motivation or the discipline to sit down and do our work. We have been able to not get distracted by using our phone, and now we're focusing for an extended period of time. But we probably want to be taking breaks during that focusing session because there is some evidence, I've got a research paper here that says we propose that deactivating and reactivating your goals allows you to stay focused. From a practical standpoint, our research suggests that when faced with long tasks, such as studying before a final exam or doing your taxes, it is best to impose brief breaks on yourself. Brief mental breaks will actually help you stay focused on your task. Basically, we should be taking breaks while we're studying, but we should be intentional about the breaks that we're taking. One of the most popular methods for doing this is called the Pomodoro Technique and that was invented by a guy called Francesco Cirillo in the 1990s. He named it after the timer, he used to use a tomato timer to time his Pomodoro sessions, and that's why it's called the Pomodoro Technique or the Tomato Technique. The idea behind the Pomodoro Technique, is that you work for 25 minutes, then you have a five-minute break, and you work for 25 minutes, have a five-minute break, work for 25 minutes, five minute break, work for 25 minutes, five minute break, and then after doing four work sessions and a five-minute break, you then take an extended half an hour break, or 20 minute break, or something like that and then you repeat the process. The idea is that that 25 minute timer is enough to give us ample time to focus on the thing, but it also means that we have a regular break so that we're never going to get tired of focusing as such. It's quite a nice rigid structure that we can impose on ourselves to help us maintain focus for longer. There's a few pros and a few cons with this, and I don't really use the Pomodoro Technique in that version of it anymore. I used to when I was in my first and second year, and the reason I used to use it is because it's got a social thing. I would go to the library with my friends and we would all collectively palm together. We called it palming. We would start a palm with a tap on the desk, and then we would end the palm with a tap on the desk, and then we would end the five-minute break with two taps and that would be a sign that the next palm was going to begin. It was quite a fun social thing because everyone could be doing different subjects and in fact, we all were doing different subject, but we were all in the same library at my college, Emmanuel College, and we would palm together and it would feel like a shared community group learning session, even though we were all doing different subjects. That's one of the advantages. The other advantage is that if we find it hard to focus on the thing or what we're doing is really isn't fun, like doing our taxes or whatever, then the end of that 25 minute session, is like a light at the end of the tunnel and we can think, oh, yes. I've only got seven more minutes to focus, and then we can focus for seven minutes, and then we can breathe a sigh of relief as we take that break. That's the benefits of the Pomodoro Technique and of course it forces us to take breaks, so it's good. The reason I don't really use it anymore in that particular realm is that usually when I'm studying, I don't have a problem with focusing for more than 25 minutes. If I'm doing something that's really boring then I do. But most of the stuff that I do in my life is just generally quite fun, and if I'm studying renal physiology or preparing for an exam or something, then I actually focus for about 40 or 45 minutes before I can internally just sense myself losing focus, and at that point I'm like, okay, cool, it's been 45 minutes. I'm going to take a 15 minute break and make myself a cup of coffee or something like that. I think the Pomodoro technique does have its benefits, but I don't think we shouldn't stick to it so rigidly, we should use a technique as a tool rather than being a slave to the technique. I know lots of people who have used who say things like, "Oh, I've tried the Pomodoro Technique, but I got really annoyed when the 25 minutes was up because I actually needed an extra five minutes." If you need an extra five minutes to finish the bit that you're doing, take the extra five minutes. This is just a guideline it's not really a rule, like the pirates code in Pirates of the Caribbean. But that's what the Pomodoro method was useful for and so many people swear by it. There's a few different apps that you can use for it. I think if you just type in Pomodoro Timer on Google, it's got one built-in, so we used to use that one. There's a website, that also works and then there's the app that I used to use for this when I was in my fifth year of med school and that app is called Forest. The idea behind forest is that you start your palm session and the way it works is that it grows a tree for you. If you go off the app or if you go to a different app on your phone during that 25 minutes, then your tree dies and you have to start again. As your tree is growing, you have to stay on the app screen watching the tree grow for 25 minutes, which forces you to not get distracted with your phone and then the five minute break, it times that for you and then it starts a new tree. This quite a nice way of Pomodoroing or palming, because you know that you can't go on your phone because then your tree is going to die. They've got a leader board and you can connect with your friends and stuff so you can see who's doing how many Pomodoro sessions in a given day, and you can be like," oh, damn. Marcus did eight hours worth of palms yesterday. He must be doing really well in the exams. Why don't I motivate myself to do a bit more studying." That was how I used to use Pomodoro Method in fifth year when preparing for my obstetrics, and gynecology, and pediatrics exams. But like I said, I don't really use it as rigidly anymore. I think I'm now at the point where I can just focus for 45 minutes, 50 minutes at a time, and then I'll take a break. That's all good. That's the Pomodoro Method. If you haven't tried it yet, you might find it works for you. I think it's really great when you're working with friends because then you can all palm together and then you can all have a chat in the five minute break. Thanks for watching, and I'll see you in the next video. 29. The Best Music to Study With: We've motivated ourselves to sit down and do the work. We're not getting distracted with doing the Pomodoro Technique. But do we listen to music or not? That is the age-old question there. Basically what the evidence shows. I'm going to do a proper YouTube video on this in a while. I'll give you a heads up. What the evidence shows is that music with lyrics is probably the worst, because the idea is that the lyrics, if they've got words in them, they interfere with our working memory and the phonological loop, which is the Random Access Memory of function within our working memory that processes words. If you've got lyrics in the background or in your ears and you're trying to read words at the same time, that will of course interference and that's going to be bad. Music with lyrics is generally considered a bad thing when you're trying to study. Music without lyrics, instrumental tracks or a middle ground. There's a few different theories about this. Working in absolute silence is probably the most optimal, because working in absolute silence means that we're not going to get distracted by the music firstly and this is affecting memory, which is that if you're studying for something like an exam in a similar environment to when you actually take the exam, then your performance is going to be increased. For example, when we take exams, usually we're in a very quiet room surrounded by the rustling of papers and the sounds of people writing and the occasional cough, but not much is going on. There's certainly no background music unless you're in like the Senate House in Cambridge and there's woman basking outside the door. There's no background music. There's no lyrics in the background. Definitely. It's basically silence like scratching of papers, so basically the sound environment that you would get in a library. They've done some studies where they've compared people who learn like a series of words underwater, then they do better when they tested underwater compared to people who learn it on land and then they do better when the tested on land. But if you learn words on land and you tested under water, when you learn them under water and you test it on land, then your performance gets reduced. The idea behind that is that our brain has this association with this environment that you're in when you learn something. The best way to recall the information is to mimic the environment as best as you can. That tells us that probably working in silence is the best thing. However, what I do and what most of my friends do is that we usually work or study to instrumental music. I've got a playlist on Spotify could study with me, which has got instrumental playlists from films, soundtracks and TV shows and video games and Planet Earth and a bit of classical music in there, a little bit of piano covers of pop songs. It's like a 1,000 different songs, like all variety, but they're all instrumental with no lyrics. I find that's really nice, because yes, I recognize that music is probably slightly distracting and probably if I worked in complete silence, I might give myself a slight edge in terms of performance. But to be honest, listening to music and those sorts of instrumental tracks make studying so much more pleasant than working in silence that I am more than happy to take that slight hidden productivity, just so I can make the process of studying a little bit more efficient. Because what's the point of getting that extra 0.5 percent on the exam if we've hated the whole process of studying. Whereas if we can enjoy the price of studying, I'd much rather have a fun year studying at university and get a very slightly reduced mark in the exam, rather than not enjoy studying and get a slightly higher mark. It just depends on priorities. But it means that when I'm studying, the way that I focused is by having, for example, the Lord of the Rings soundtrack in my ears while I'm working. It's also quite nice because sometimes it gets to bits where I recognize the song and I can breathe for a minute. I can allow myself to get distracted while listening to concerning habits by Howard Shore or while listening to light of the seven from the Game of Thrones soundtrack or whatever and I can be like, oh, yeah. But in Harry Potter, the Christmas pair of Harry Potter that [NOISE]. If the crystal beat of Harry Potter water comes up, then I feel like a little spring in my step, even though I'm just sitting there and it just makes working more fun or if it's like, the Game of Thrones sound track where people are dying and stuff. Then it gets my heart rate up and make studying a little bit more frantic and the adrenaline is going and about to be chased by these dragons and I'm going to get killed. That just makes studying much more pleasant for me, which is why overall, I would recommend studying with instrumental tracks, even though the evidence probably says that we should probably be studying in silence. The caveat to this is that let's say you're the person and you've been studying with violent rap with lyrics playing in your head the whole time since you've been studying for your exams and that is the only thing that can get you in the mood because you've been pavlovianly conditioned to only respond to stuff when you've got violent rapping your head, then by all means, you can listen to all the violent rap that you like. The point for these study techniques is not that it's a prescriptive, you must do this, the bottom act of recall and space repetition and you must do that. The point is that it's like finding this balance between and this like appreciating what the studies show and what the evidence is and then taking the bits that work for us and applying it to our own life. If you want to listen to violent rap, you won't listen to music with lyrics and by all means, go for it but recognize that if we're optimizing focus and stuff, the evidence does suggest that we should probably be studying in silence. But I'm personally going to ignore that and study with instrumentals, which I think is a good middle ground between complete silence, which is boring, and music with lyrics which is incredibly distracting. Hopefully that was helpful. Thanks for watching. I'll see you in the next video. 30. Maintaining Work-Life Balance While Studying: Okay, so we've talked about the Pomodoro Technique, which is all about taking a break, sort of within your study sessions, so 25 minutes of work and five minutes or break, but in this video, I just want to talk about some general tips for maintaining a healthy-ish work-life balance while studying. I think the most important thing is to realize that our physical and our mental health comes far above any sort of exam and stuff. Yeah, I get that, sometimes we have high-stakes exams, but for the most part, our exams really don't matter in the grand scheme of things, especially if they're coming at the expense of our physical or mental health. I just find that that's something to keep in the back of my mind because I've got so many friends who kind of burnt out because, it's so easy when you're at university or are you in school in the right environment or in the wrong environment rather, to sort of, everyone to sort of work each other up to the point where we feel that, oh my God, this exam is literally the most important thing in my life, and because everyone around us seems to be working, then we'll kind of try and kill ourselves working as well. I don't know, it's just not an ideal way to go about it because as we're saying, physical and mental health comes first. Secondly, in terms of work-life balance, personally, the thing that worked for me was that I would go to different places to do work and then I would have my room as a work free zone. For example, when I was in university, I'd be going to different libraries and studying in the different libraries, but then when I'd come back home, I'd had sort of had a rule for myself that I'm not going to let myself study when I'm at home, I would have to study outside the house. That was a very distinctive sort of work-life separation, but also sometimes what I find useful is to do more of a sort of work-life integration. Especially when it comes to preparing for multiple choice exams where, the technique for preparing for those is to just bash through lots of questions on an online question bank. I found that me and quite a few of my other friends, the technique that worked for us was that we'd just sort of casually be working and doing these questions as we're going about throughout the day. For example, let's say we're all chilling in a room and we just ordered some pizza and stuff, some of us would be on our computers or laptops kind of doing Anki flashcards or doing questions on past tests or past medicine while also having a chat. That's a sort of more, like it's not a very focused way of studying, but it's a way of getting in the reps of doing the flashcards, of doing the questions while also hanging around with friends and being a little bit sociable. The other really important things is to eat well and exercise and stuff. A mistake that I made during exam season was I thought, Oh, in exam season only terms that have really just focused on studying and not actually go to the gym, but I found that for the weeks where I did that, I ended up personally feeling like less good about myself and that sort of bled into my studying, whereas even today, I've got a whole day where I have to churn out a bunch of videos or prepare for a supervision, I still make it a point that, two or three times that week I'm going to go to the gym because I recognize that actually in the grand scheme of things, my own physical health, my own nutrition, my own mental health and stuff: All of that is far more important than doing a few more questions or preparing one more YouTube video, or like preparing a few more slides for the supervision. I think the work-life balance thing is really just about recognizing our priorities and recognizing that studying is not usually top of our priority list. Sure depending on the exam and some high-stakes exams, that has to be the other way I like to think of this is that it's okay for life to be out of balance for a short amount of time. Like we can have different seasons in our life where, let's say it is the week before our exams, it's probably reasonable to spend that week just full on focused on cramming and kind of neglecting our friends a little bit because it's just for a week. It's is just for a very short amount of time. But I think if we're going that far out of balance, we should really keep it in mind and try and redress the balance later on. So, yeah, just a few general tips on work-life balance. In a bonus section, we've got, me and my friend Simon discussing some more general tips of work-life balance. Hopefully you'll find that helpful. Thanks for watching and see you in the next video. 31. How to Study Effectively With Friends: All right. Let's talk about one of my favorite topics and that is how to study effectively with friends. This was something that I was doing from my first year of university onwards, and I think it was one of the few things that really changed the game in terms of making studying a lot more fun for me. There's a few tips I've got for studying with friends. Firstly, you want to find the right group of people whose all motivated to study at around about the similar level. There's not much point in getting people in the group who absolutely hate studying and who are going to distract everyone, and so you want to have a group of friends who are a bit of a nerd themselves, ideally. Secondly, I think it's very important that someone in the group takes charge of what the study session is going to look like. For me and my friends, I was usually the one that took charge because someone's going to do it. The way that we would do the session is we would all get together in the library of Emmanuel College, and we'd be using the Pomodoro technique. We'd have 25 minutes of work and then five-minute break, 25 minutes of work and five-minute break, and we would tap on the table to signal when these breaks were starting and finishing. We had one person who was the Pomodoro master, who would have the Pomodoro timer up on their screen and who'd be timekeeping for everyone else in the group. Initially, this can be daunting especially if you've not studied with friends before, but I'd really recommend just instead plucking up the card and then saying to your friends that, hey guys, why don't we all go to the library together and study, you can say it with a bit of a smile on your face as if you're joking, but you are not joking you are being completely serious. For the most part in my experience, people will come along for the ride with you. Maybe you'll get a bit of, you're such a nerd. I don't want to study, and all those sort of stuff, but you can leave those people behind. For the most part, most people that I was friends with, at least, were keen on studying with other people because it just makes it infinitely more enjoyable. A few other pointers, if you're studying the same topic, it can be very easy for one person to stop shouting out all the answers and the other people to just be like, oh yeah, I knew that. One point that we would do is that whenever we got multiple of [inaudible] in the room together and if we were all studying the same thing collectively, we would, for example, see a flash card on the screen and then we would impose a 10 seconds silence where everyone had a chance to think about it, and ideally write an answer down on paper. So they committed themselves to paper. Whereas, if it was just a free for all, then Paul who knew the answer to everything would just shout out the answer, and the rest of us wouldn't have a chance to actually use active recall to try and plunge out the information from our brains. The main thing I would say is that, if you are doing the same thing make sure you give everyone in the group a chance to do the thing, and if that requires imposing moments of silence, that's absolutely fine. You might have to be a totalitarian tyrant for a little while, but everyone will appreciate it in the long run because they'll appreciate being guided through this process of studying with friends. Studying with friends is great and I'd really recommend you give it a try, but maybe it'll work for you and maybe it won't. It does depend on the friendship group dynamics, so don't feel bad if it doesn't really work out. But I think it's worth giving it a shot, because it can have the potential to change your life by making all the studying much more pleasant. That's it. How to study effectively with friends, and just some general tips from me. Thanks for watching and I'll see you in the next video, bye. 32. Conclusion: All right. Thank you so much for watching the videos in this class. I'm not sure how many of them you watched, but thank you for enrolling in the class anyway. I really hope you found at least something in here that you can take away to hopefully apply to your own life, to your own studying to make studying a little bit more efficient and hopefully a little bit more enjoyable so that we can enjoy the time that we spend in studying, but that we can also free up our time to do other things that are more interesting. Yeah, if you have any comments, any questions, or anything, please do leave a comment in the discussion section down below and I will be replying to stuff. You can definitely check out my YouTube channel for more study tips, including some content that's not in this class. There's quite a few things on YouTube for that. If you're interested in specific apps to help with studying, I've got loads of stuff and how I use notion, Google Sheets, Anki, and a few other different apps to maximize the efficiency and the enjoyableness of my studying. Thank you again for watching this class and all the best with your studying and see you sometime soon. Bye bye. 33. BONUS - Burnout and Work-Life Balance ft. Simon Clark: Next we have a question from BeckWaldron_. He said, "How do you cope with burnout without compromising time dedicated to study?" I think just burn out in general, how do you deal with that? I think you've written some blog posts about this? I have, yeah. I took a lot of time out over the past couple of months and I've basically go back to full productivity now. I actually think that taking time out was absolutely necessary in doing that though. I'm not sure if it is possible to recover from burnout and maintain your your level of productivity. Obviously, you can work more efficiently, and so you work for less time, you still get the same output, but you need time to recalibrate yourself to do that. I don't know if you've experienced that at all? I think I've been quite lucky in that I've managed to avoid the whole burnout thing. I think one of the main reasons for that is that any time I get to the point where I feel like, " This is not it's not going anywhere", I do my very best to cut down on the amount that I'm doing because I think what I realized is that ultimately, studying, what's the point ready like? What are we optimizing for? Optimizing for getting a slightly higher percentage in our exam that no one is going to care about 10 years from now. That was one thing like recognizing, and in a way treating exams more as a game, that was a tip that one of my friend's grandmothers sent her by e-mail saying that she just like a super liberal in America and stuff, and her whole thing was, "Just treat exams as if like it's a game that you're playing with yourself. It's anonymous play game, you're not competing against other people. You're just playing with yourself." That sounds weird. Wow, it sounds great. Those are my ways of helping avoid burnouts. I always take loads of study breaks, and what we said at the point about focus that I don't beat myself up when I go and take a break. Yeah, Because I have experienced it before, and I think Oxbridge in particular, because the terms are so short and intense. If you don't manage your self-care basically over those periods, you burn out every term, really. Yeah, I have always needed to take time out to recalibrate how I'm approaching the work. In terms of can you deal with it and still maintain the same amount of studying? I think that you could, but you do need to accept there needs to be a period where you actively sit back and evaluate. You need to look and say, "what we were doing that was not working and was making me stressed and making me burned out?" You're going to need at least a day to actively look at that and then draw up some new plan. You can't expect to do that on the hoof. I don't think it's possible, but I think you can limit the amount of time with some effective planning.whether that means following somebody's checklist or if that means almost treating it like you are a company, and you're like, "The product that I'm offering is studying and the output is the grade that you get, I think. As a company, let's do some product analysis. How can we optimize so that we don't need to spend so many times, so many hours making the product?" It's almost like viewing it in that calculating objective manner that a product manager would a product. I think it's not healthy to view yourself that way the whole time, but it can be productive when you are evaluating. This is something that my brother and I discussed in one of our podcast episodes. I think the title the podcast was Treating Your Personal Life like A Business. The framing of it was that we felt that a lot of gains that we made in our personal life came from treating it more like a business, and so the correlate to that is that a lot of the gains in business came from treating it more like a personal life. Yeah, that's what I've noticed. Treating your personal life like a business front, another thing that we found helpful in that was setting a hourly rates that you employed out. Yeah. At that point, is it worth me driving out of my way to save two pounds on this piece of toilet paper when I can just buy on Amazon Prime. Yeah, it's costing your time. Yeah, absolutely. I really like this idea of treating yourself as if you are a company. The shareholders demand answers. You're taking way too much time to get that certain grade. We know you can half the time, and make the workforce happier. How can I identify signs of burn out? I'm again quite bad at this. I think it's basically, are you not enjoying the stuff that you were doing alongside your work in the way that you're used to? Whether that is playing an instrument, or doing sport, or meeting with friends, do you find that you are not enjoying them because you're just tired, you just want time to reset. I would find that I didn't want to go and be social with people. I just needed time to be me and read a book on my own and I think when that happens regularly, and you're just not taking active pleasure in the things that you used to, you have to think, why? Something's not quite right here. Your mental RAM, the way I like to think about it, it's been overflowing and you need to purge the RAM, bring it back to the base level that you could possibly manage, and then repopulate it. That makes no sense because I can think of a few examples in the last few years where, I think it was when it was like peak applying for university season, so my business of teaching courses and stuff was getting 50 e-mails a day of support and things like that, and then having the degree alongside and having a YouTube channel. That was a point where people would come over to my room and I would think, I'm supposed to be hosting these people, but I really need to get all these e-mails, and that was such an uncomfortable place. It's almost like your works bled over into everything else, and it sours the joy of everything else that you're doing. 34. BONUS - Motivation, Focus & Friction Reduction ft. Simon Clark: The first one is from pushcart 2003. He says, how do you motivate yourself to study? The is the classic. Boy, I think that has to be the distinction that you draw between motivation and discipline. Tell me more. I think it's good to be motivated to study. I think it's much more important to be disciplined. In that motivation is whatever takes you on the day. You wake up, and you think, "Yeah, I'm really fired up." For me, when I was doing a physics degree, I'd be like, "I really want to do optics today, great. We're going to look at that." Discipline is getting up at nine every day to get to the library at nine every day, and doing it day after, day after day. I think that is the more important thing, and you accept the fact that, and you're not going to feel fired up to do it every morning, but you have to force yourself to be there and to turn up on time. I think that's more important than motivation. Yeah, I would completely agree with that. There's a phrase I like saying that, "Motivation is a myth." The thing I like to tell myself is that, I should be trying to scrub the word motivation from my vocabulary as much as I can because, anytime, I think I'm not motivated to do X. That is such an unhelpful full force of thing. Yeah it's almost like the concept of potential. It's like if you assign yourself with potential, that is an imaginary quantity. There is the work you're doing and have done. There is no such thing as your hard potential that you have in a way, it doesn't exist other than in your head. Yeah. If you abolish the concept, then you're not worried about not living up to your potential and it stops the anxiety. Eliminate potential and eliminate motivation. Fantastic. The other phrase I want to eliminate is the phrase, "I don't have time for whatever," because I was trying to reframe it as I'm actively choosing not to make the time for whatever. Yeah, I have other priorities. Yeah. Exactly. How do you bring yourself to force yourself to do stuff? Have you got any tips that you find helpful? I think for me at least, it has to be about routine. It has to be you're in a regular routine of, which can be special and it can be temporal. Ideally, both, you get up at a certain time and you'll be at this coffee shop or this library at a certain time. Then it separates out that as your work domain from your life, where you're living your life and with your in [inaudible] , your dorm, or wherever that may be. It's almost like being at school. You're like, "I am in this classroom at this time because on a Wednesday at one o'clock I have double math," You're in that mindset. You didn't have a problem with school for seven years, however long it is. Well, I didn't. Maybe you did. Well, we were both pretty dorky. We have both done several years of university and voluntarily done more. Yeah, because it's fun. Yeah. I think that's a big part of how I motivate myself to study because I do genuinely enjoy it, and I think one thing that helps me enjoy it more is the fact that I also do some teaching on the side. Yeah. In a way, whenever I'm studying, it's always with the view that, okay, I need to be able to teach this to my friends and to people in the year below at some point, which gives it more of a motive rather than I'm preparing for this exam that's several months or years into the future that will only loosely dictate my job or whatever. I think the other thing is, as well as timetabling yourself to have a regular schedule, I think the other thing for me is that, I have to schedule in time when I'm not going to work. Because if you have infinite time, the task just expands to fill the time and so you're like, "I've got all day to do this. I'll get it done." It allows you to be lazy. Whereas if you say, "I'm going to go at three o'clock to the gym or I'm going to go meet up with a friend this time every Wednesday, for example," it means you only have that much time, you have a hard upper limit, and so it means that you have to get this stuff done in that time. Otherwise, you're not going to get it done. Yeah, absolutely. I think the constraints are really important. I've noticed, especially, nowadays when I'm preparing for physiology supervisions that I'm doing because I have to fit that time in between my actual job as a doctor, and the hanging out with friends and making YouTube videos and stuff. It's like, "Right, I've got this two hour window where I need to crank out these next three lectures." Yeah. An effort just has to get done. I found it easier I think to edit YouTube videos when I was doing the PhD than now, because, when I was doing the PhD, I would get home at eight or nine and be like, "Right, well, if I want to get a video out, I've got to do it by 12 tonight." Whereas now I can wake up and be like, "Well, today we're going to make a video about, I don't know, we'll crack something out out at some point." If you have that real time pressure, you get much more done. Yeah, that's so true. There was a day a few months ago where I had two days off work, and I planed to film 10 videos across those two days. I got them all done, and it was incredible. But on days where I only have to film one video, I end up procrastinating for so long and it gets to the end of the deadline like, why haven't I filmed this video yet? Yeah. I think it's probably a similar thing with studying because you're forcing yourself to time block it. Yeah. Yeah. I would have done better at undergrad if I'd actually done more extra curricular activities because it would've put more time constraints on my work whereas as it was, I was like, "This whole day is for studying," and that meant that there was no structure and I didn't do as well as I think I could have done otherwise. Fantastic. It sounds like what we're saying just answered to the question, how do you motivate yourself to study? Is that firstly, you don't think about it in terms of motivation? You develop the discipline, the habits to do it. You've said it's really helpful to go to coffee shops, go somewhere that's not your home- Yeah, definitely. -if you're at the university and then go to the library. Don't stay in your room because your room is sacred space. Put constraints. Yes, and today, having set amount of time where you have to get a certain amount of things done, it's not an option. Yeah. Question number 2 is, how do you stay focused while studying? That comes from the doubler_ 24. Thank you the doubler. I am terrible at this. I'll be completely honest. I get distracted very easily. I find that I'm most focused when I remove as many distractions as possible. When I'm working, when I'm writing a script for a YouTube video, I have a two-screen set up, and I find it all too easy to have a video playing on the other screen because I'm like, "I maybe feel like I'm not really working," but my attention is constantly being divided. I would be too easy to have another web page that I was using for research but I'm not actively looking at up. What I tend to do is have something like Spotify open. It removes that screen as a distraction. I also think you have to accept that you're not going to stay focused for hours and hours at a time. I don't know if you do this, but I'll find that I'll be working for maybe 45 minutes and then it's almost like you wake up and you're like, "Where am I? I was really in there for a while. I should hang on. I need to get off and do something," because you recognize that that was your natural limit for focus. Yeah, I have exactly the same thing. I tried using the Pomodoro method at some point. It's worked for me. Forest is a good app that I found, When I was writing my thesis actually, that was really useful. Okay. But sometimes it doesn't work. I find that about 45 minutes is the upper limit of my natural fully in the zone. Yeah. Because sometimes when I'm filming study with me videos, I realize, well, I was actually just doing this for 45 minutes and not realizing it. Yeah. But then, for me, at least to get to that point where I can sense my mind beginning to wonder, and at that point I think, "Okay. Let's go make a cup of coffee, make a cup of tea, go to the bathroom, do something." We're not robots at the end of the day. We have a natural need I think to vary the task that we're doing. When it comes to staying focused, you've got to accept that you're not going to be focused the whole time. I think, in a way, you actually have to employ a mindfulness technique where you're aware. When you're doing mindfulness meditation, you're concentrating on the breath. But the description is moment to moment non-judgmental awareness. That's mindfulness in a nutshell. The idea is that you're just sat there paying attention to how your body feels and how you're breathing, and if your mind wanders, the important thing is not to say, "I'm an idiot, I need to be focusing on nothing." You say, "Okay. My mind wandered. That's okay, but let's now think about breathing again." It's that non-judgmental awareness aspect of it, the fact that I think when you're studying, you have to recognize, "Hang on. I got distracted." That's okay because that's a natural thing to do. You don't want to shame yourself into thinking, "Okay. I should never get distracted." No, it's a natural thing. You just have to bring your attention back to what you're doing and say, "If it's important, I'll get to that in 10 minutes," and will turn your attention to what you're doing. Yeah, that's so interesting. I think that's a big part of why. I certainly used to struggle with focus back in the day and I would lose focus, and then I would beat myself up about it. But I guess I naturally stopped beating myself up because I only have fair enough. You have to. [inaudible] 15 minutes because I'll take a break now, and I think just partly having a certain amount of time to do stuff in, but also not being too harsh on myself when I lost focus and when I look at my phone or something. Yeah. Well, because it's a negative feedback. When you get distracted you'll think, "I'm an idiot, and then get back to it. Then when it happens again, you're only going to get more and more frustrated, and it means that you're going to associate studying with those negative emotions. It's important, just in terms of a feedback cycle to not have that negative component to it. Just neutrally, in a positive way and think, "Great. I got distracted again." But you've got to neutrally just be like, "Let's put our attention back to what we're doing." Do you use any tactics to not get this working like self-control apps or anything like that, or do you not really need to? I've never used anything like those extensions that stop you from going on Facebook or whatever. I'm not saying that I wouldn't benefit from it, but I seem to have found a good medium where I am at the moment. I do get distracted from time to time, and certainly, when you work for yourself as a YouTuber, there are whole days when you think, "Man, I've done nothing today," but I think for the most part, I'm at a happy level with it in terms of just self-discipline, and also sometimes rolling with being distracted. I'll be like, "Let's just do this," and then I'll quickly update my finance spreadsheet or update a thumbnail or write a quick e-mail because I'm being distracted, but let's turn that into a productive thing and then we'll come back to it. Less possible when you're studying I know, but, for me, I seem to have found this system that works. Fantastic. Yeah, I don't really use any of these apps either. One thing I do is I turn my phone face down. I do that, yes, absolutely. That just immediately eliminates slack notifications, tweet notifications, this person. Well, I also turned off most notifications. I don't have any Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram notifications I think on my phone. Is the bare minimum of if something is really desperately needing to get my attention, it will tell me. But for Twitter, in particular, I was used to being on Twitter way more than I am now. When I just remove notifications from popping up, it cut down on the number of distractions per hour by. I don't even want to know. [inaudible] Yeah, literally. The other thing that I find helpful for focusing is, I've got a "Study with Me" playlist on Spotify, which is just like instrumental film music. Yeah. From Lord of the Rings to Pirates of the Caribbean, If I have my headphones on, "Yeah, yeah, Jack Sparrow. " It's fine. I think you had to have to have a stable of those like I'll have a TRON: Legacy is a really good one to listen to actually. I think I find things with words quite distracting. I'm a singer, I used to sing a lot of choral works and so I would listen to them, especially if I was trying to learn a piece of music. But now I just find myself either singing along or paying more attention to the words and not to my music, sorry to my work. So, like lo-fi beats, as you could find everywhere on YouTube with that one GIF of the girl. You know the one I mean. Yes, I think I do. Yeah, instrumental soundtracks. I think game soundtracks are really good because they're meant to be played alongside you focusing on something else. But something like SimCity or The Sims or Cities: Skylines and have got really good soundtracks, they're meant to just occupy the back of your brain whilst you're focusing on something else. Have you got public Spotify playlists that had these in them? I actually have a public YouTube playlist. Fantastic. We can put that down. I'm not sure that everything in there is technically legal, but I didn't upload it, so it's fine. Yeah, there's actually a video I'm working on at the moment are called, should you study with music? We've got a whole literature review and stuff about it. It seems to suggest that music with words interferes with the phonological loop part of our working memory and therefore, you can't really focus on those two things at once. Music like instrumental music is all right. Studying inside is actually the best option because evidence shows that we retain stuff better when we are being tested on it in the same atmosphere that we learned in. They've done studies where they've made people learn a series of words underwater and then test them under water and they do better than the people who don't test under water along with the [inaudible] conditions. It'd be great if you get to an exam and they're just, "Okay, your time starts now." Then the music from The Lord of the Ring just starts. Yeah. For the next three and a half hours. But then going back to our main question about focus, I find that even though I know that listening to music at all is probably slightly sub-optimal. I think overall, it just massively increases my enjoyment and my focus. I'm happy to take the productivity hit. It's a bit like when you go to the gym. I find that I obsessive in trying to make the optimal strategy. You think, "I've got this particular super set and I'm going to do it this many times a week." The end of the day, the best gym strategy is the one that you do. You'll get the most health benefit if you actually go to the gym. The same as studying, the best study routine is the one that you actually do. If you make something actively unpleasant by being in silence for eight hours a day, you're not going to want to do it, so you integrate that over time. You're going to miss sessions because you just can't bring yourself to do it. If you make it a pleasant environment, you're going to get more good out of it. Absolutely. I think that's a big part of developing the motivation or discipline, whatever you want to call it, just making it a more enjoyable experience. A nice soundtrack does that. Going to the library, going to a nice coffee shop. If I've got an exam to prepare for, I budget so that I'm happy to spend £20 today on just lattes, just increasing the pleasantness of the experience. I think that really helps. That's nice. I like the idea of having a budget for it. This is my self-care budget for this session. Okay, good stuff. Okay, so next up, we've got a few friction reduction type of thing. "How do you turn off the holiday mood?" Says _galaxy heart heart. "Right after you take a long break and the school semester is about to start. How do you turn off the holiday mood?" Afra Yusuf asks directly, "What are some ways to reduce the friction to studying?" I find that I have almost like a Swiss Army knife. You have different modes and you have to consciously flip from bottle opener mode to corkscrew mode or to cutting knife mode. My brain would be in a certain pattern. It could be in the holiday pattern of, I'm going to wake up and I'm just going to do whatever I feel like doing, or I will be in the mode of I get up, I start working at 9:00 and I stop when I get to 6:00. I find that I can't switch modes if I keep everything else in my environment the same. If I have been at home, for example, at the holidays and say you've been home for Christmas, then you have a couple of say two weeks, nice and relaxed and you're just switched your brain off. You can't expect yourself to then start work immediately, whilst your staying in that same environment at home where you have recently been relaxed. If you want to do work, for example, get out of the house, get to a coffee shop, okay? Go to a library. I am all about changing the environment and also it can be changing spatially but also changing temporarily. Changing the time that you get up so it forces you to be in a new time that you weren't in earlier. You've got at 9:00 or 10:00 in the morning, it's home, it's Christmas. But if you get up at 7:00 or 8:00 in the morning, it's a different time, you're in a different place, then you can switch modes. That makes some sense, yeah? Yeah, absolutely. I think that's really important. I realized this at university because during term time I would completely fall behind in everything that was going on because it was the day we had eight weeks long. But then in the holidays, I would every morning get up and have breakfast at home. Then I would take the bus to go to the local library and sit in the South-End Library with my gem. I just got there all day and working. Then some school friends of mine when they finished eating, they would go in library sessions and it would always be very fun. We'd be kind of working around the same table, but obviously doing our own different things. But just that switching of atmosphere made it a lot easier to get work done then. I think one thing that I also did do to reduce the friction to studying is having my books and stuff in an accessible location. Everybody starts appreciating it towards the end of university because before, I used to have my textbook or whatever kind of little bookshelf across the room from me. Just got moving the Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine over to my desk. It's just removing a bit of friction. Exactly, absolutely. Then later on when I started putting everything on my iPad, at that point, it completely eliminated friction because now all of my textbooks were in part in PDF form on my iPad. You are honest. Therefore anywhere I was, if I was in a lecture that was particularly boring, I could do some work, if I was on the bus, if I was on the toilet, if I wanted to, I could just open up Notability and there was no friction in doing that. Because I've found that with my work recently when I moved everything over to Notion, before, if I wanted to check on the ideas that I have for videos and wherever I was, I'd have to go between Google Calendar for when I was trying to release and then Google Docs for where the actual scripts were and now I just have it all in a database. "Oh, hang on, what am I doing again next month?" Bring it up, I can access everything I want in one place. I'm making smarter decisions and doing more work on those concepts because it's just been a bit easier to have it all in one place. Again, I feel like keeping everything centralized in terms of whether that's physical books, having it close to you, all the information and you can work with any one app, I guess. But as long as you keep it all centralized in one place, then it makes my life so much easier. Yeah, absolutely. I think one other thing I find helpful is making sure my desk is clean. Because if my desk is untidy, there's so much friction sitting on my desk becomes a challenge, " I got to deal with this." Now what I do is it's almost part of my study routine or my being productive routine that I will put an audiobook on these days. The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. I'll put an audiobook on, clean the desk, make a coffee, and that would be part of getting into it. It's like a ritual. Yeah, exactly. That's the thing I'm like, "Now this is an inspiring atmosphere to sit down." But do you find yourself sometimes you finished the ritual. Because for me it would be like check emails, have a Coke Zero, [inaudible] on Spotify and then you think, "What am I doing?" There's that pause between the ritual being finished and actually flowing into the work. How do you stop there being that disjoint between the two. I've found a trick for this recently and it's called a daily highlight, which is the everyday, I get on Notion. I've got this like life OS thing. Wherever I have like a daily check in template, where everyday it asks me the question, what's the highlight? What's the one thing you want to work on today? When that's done, one or two more things that you might get run to if you have the time? Right? If I need to do work, I prepare for supervision or something might want to highlight will be prepared for tomorrow's physiology subdivision. Therefore I know at the back of my mind that that's the only thing I actually need to get on today. I find that having that really helps in terms of sitting down and doing the thing. Because it is not overwhelming. You have one task. See there's no question like well it's crack on. Because I find that when I'm editing videos, "Right, I just know that I need to finish this edit this morning" and even if it takes all morning, it certainly doesn't feel that much work because it's one task and that's it. The day's work has been accomplished. Everything from that point is a bonus. Even if it's not, you've actual plan to do that work on that day. It still feels like a bonus. Okay, that's interesting. Yeah, and then in terms of other things for reducing fiction, well, I have a pot of pens on my desk. Oh yeah. [inaudible] highlighters and I felt I was at like a pocket pad of A4. Yeah, always have a notebook. Just stuff that easily within rates that you don't have to do anything extra to get started. Yeah, I wish I had that more for YouTube videos because it's so much friction getting all this setup. Yeah. This was about hours worth of set up and we've got all our cameras here. Yeah, you need your own office. This is going to be done when Molly gives up. Oh my God, Molly's such a friction. She's not watching us, is she? She probably is, but it's fine. 35. BONUS - Eating and Music While Studying ft. Simon Clark: "What do you guys think about eating while studying as well as listening to music?" says @ _10_stock. That's a lot of a username. Eating while studying and listening to music while studying? I have a thing with eating anyway, I meatloaf and my weight oscillates from bloated overweight to obsessively tracking diet and everything. Depending on which phase I'm in, I will either eat whilst I'm studying almost as like a comfort thing I think. It's like I like eating, so if I eat while I'm studying it will make the experience more pleasurable, which does work. I don't think it necessarily distracts you terribly. I did identify when I was an undergrad, the ideal library food, for a library where you're allowed to bring in food, which I think is a sherbet lemon. Because-. Okay. It's a tiny boost of sugar, but you cannot physically eat sherbet lemons quickly. It's a food that paces you, you can only consume one every 10 minutes, maybe. Whereas if you gave me popcorn or chocolate, I would be stuffing my face with it, whereas sherbet lemon, you're like. That's me for the next quarter of an hour. It gives you a little bit of a sugar boost which you're probably about to tell me that there's research that sugar is terrible for you. Well, I don't know, I'm terrible at healthy eating, I pretty much live off takeaways. Ok But I'm trying to move on to the meal prep life. I've got one of those cookbooks over there. I've been trying like to prepare recipe of others. I've been intending to prepare recipe that some point, because I'm sure will happen. My favorite thing to eat while in the library is actually a box of grapes. Yeah. They're healthiest stuff, but after eating a few grapes, it can get a bit sickening so I find that it forces me to pace myself on eating of grapes. Other than that, it's loads of tea and coffee. I think it's part of my ritual that I will consuming Coke Zero, because I didn't do hot drinks so that's my only source of caffeine. I think it's part of a ritual and I feel it's very possible to get into a bad habit of what you're eating whilst you're studying, we're drinking whilst just studying. When I was an undergraduate, I was drinking Red Bull and eating milky boss, for the late night study sessions, I was like, "Well need caffeine and I need sugar, well right, okay. I know what I need to do." You got to this habit of doing it is directly unhealthy, I don't think it's necessary, there's no particular a prior reason why you need to eat while studying, but if it makes it a more pleasant experience and it's not at the dramatic cost of your health. I didn't see anything wrong with it and equally with music. I know that you are probably better off studying in silence technically, but it makes it a more pleasant experience if you listen to film soundtracks, game soundtracks, and anything that doesn't have words in. Because we're talking about this earlier, it distracts you. Absolutely, the words like lyrics and music interfere with the phonological loop aspect of working memory. It's as if you are like trying to read something, but also hearing words at the same time. That just massively reduces your performance on recalling or remembering bits of that. But I've got like a great study with me, playlist on Spotify, link in the video description, which now has something 25,000 followers on it. I've got 25,000 people following my spotify playlist. But now I've started to get random e-mails from people being,"Hello I saw you have a playlist, would you like to consider my music for it?" I go like "Oh I'd love to listen to it, but" and the Game of Throne soundtrack because it's so good, on the epic bits, the mutiny is happening. It's when I listen to the Mad Max soundtrack from Fury Road's whilst I was coding, when it gets really intense you are like, "Oh God, I've got to get this one to finished quickly." I know sure this has necessarily made my code better, but it made a lot more fun. Definitely, I think one thing I used to do is I would pick an audio, a [inaudible] or something common like a composer. When I say common, some popular composer and listen to that stuff. But I found that actually putting it into a shuffled playlist with loads of other stuff really helps me because it means I could go from concerning hobbits from Lord of the Rings straight into like Stars of Wars opening theme straight to river flows in you. I found that really distracting, I find that if it the genres splits in particular, if I recognize the music, it's a constant, it's a part of my brain that's going, that's that and it's like diverting your attention back and then it will change genre again, your diverted back. I find that I will have something like a genre like Lo fi, Japanese Hip Hop for example I quite like listening to it there's a good Spotify playlists for that. Or something that is meant to be played in the background like game music or something like for example, the Tron soundtrack, which is great music has no words to it and then you listen to it in order, is meant to be enjoyed in that way. I find shuffling between different stuff distracting but I guess it's just different strokes for different folks. Haven't tried to be listening to whole soundtrack in order, I would try that, that's a good idea. Especially if it's one that isn't like prime in your memory, like Lord of the Rings. Particularly if I was listening to Harry Porter soundtrack, I would be like, "Oh, now Crowley is taking off his thing." Something like Fury Road, Fury Road is good, Tron is good, Social network is great. Sweet Yeah, that's a good sound track. Then, you can mix it up with basically, any movie that you like, but you couldn't quote line for line probably. No Harry Porter Not Harry Porter, no. 36. BONUS - Dealing With Procrastination ft. Simon Clark: Next we've got from X crushed quotes X says,"Any tips to combat procrastination." We'll assume that this is standalone compared to the [inaudible] earlier focused on. I personally will stop myself procrastinating by just removing the temptation. If I have my phone, for example, what you've done is take your phone and put it face down, that's exactly what I do. So I just don't have a temptation to look at it. I will have it on silent. I won't have tabs open for social media platforms. I think I also work consciously say to myself sometimes like we're doing this now, and then once we've done this section, then you can check Twitter. It's the delayed gratification of it's going to feel so good because you've waited to have a look at it rather than just giving it immediately. But yeah, I have to remove the temptation; I have the willpower of like a not. Otherwise. Yeah, I think that's what a lot of people are saying about developing habits, that it's a lot easier to change your environment than it is to be the captain of your own [inaudible]. Yeah, you can sail on the rough seas, but you were the one who's created those conditions. My ship is very much just like I think my captain spur is riding into rough, like the last wave of my attention span. I find that when I get the urge to procrastinate, it usually means that I need to take a break or that I need to make what I'm one doing a bit more interesting. Yeah. I find that one thing that helps for me is thinking about how I might then teach it to someone else, either to a friend, which we used to do a lot in University or teach it to someone in a year below the following year. I would, in a way, gear up my study sessions in order to teach them a few months down the line, which I find is quite helpful. The other thing I'd like to do is in a way embrace procrastination. I call it productive procrastination. I think this is something that you've mentioned in some of your videos as well to an extent like what I do is that my former procrastination is like browsing web design inspiration, or watching a Peter McKinney on YouTube video and finally get some tips on how to edit my next one. Things that indirectly benefit me in some way or another. Yeah, you try to turn your distraction into something that still benefits you even if it's not what you plan to do at the time, you're like, let's roll with it. Let's see where this goes and then eventually you'll find your way back. I think actually, and my brother says this as well on a weekly podcast, that you can check out the link below. He says that a lot of the interests that we developed as teenagers were because we were procrastinating from something else. Like procrastinating from doing homework and stuff was how I taught myself to code because it was just inherently more interesting. I think there's a real sense in the areas that you find yourself naturally drawn to you as a form of procrastination, might be a valuable in some way. Yeah, it's almost like a natural resonance. It's like when you're trying to force yourself at some frequency that doesn't quite sit with you and you just naturally like actually want to vibrate in the frequency of painting war hammer rather than writing an essay. Exactly, and then you can find a way to monetize painting war hammer then you're ready. Yeah, the only way you get by this is if you do a lot of it. Sometimes it's good to indulge in a procrastination.