I am a Toyota – Learning how to drive faster

Posted on February 12, 2012 by


If you have read the last two (one, two) posts of the series “I am a Toyota” you might know that I might have been quite occupied lately with studying for various exams. That’s the reason why I haven’t uploaded a new post in two weeks. I have a quite good feeling about what I have done. That’s why this post will be a little different to what I have planned before. Only a little though.

Firstly I want to examine pros and cons about measures I myself have undertaken without considering any advice but rely on my intuition. Afterwards I want to find out some measures I should have undertaken and might next time.

Male intuition.

The home office

Throughout the latest period of uni I discovered several metheds of studying. The venue plays thereby an important role. The home office method is the one that comes quite intuitively if you live by yourself in an apartment where you basically have everything you need for life. That’s why many students study at home. Of course this makes sense but for me this did never work. Why? Tricky question. You can’t even specify. Every time you want to start something else comes along that keeps you from working. I bet you know what I mean. You want coffee. While making it you discover that your kitchen is quite messy so you start cleaning it. While at it you start vacuuming the whole apartment, optionally clean the windows or move your furniture around in the room. And there is more as this video shows:

I usually decide to learn how to cook.

Is it just me or is that inefficient. Ana da Silva from workawesome suggests that it is beneficial for several reasons. While working from home you can spend more time with your children, you have more time for yourself and you even increase productivity due to more work satisfaction. All this is not actively concerning me though. The only reason she mentions is that you safe the time you would usually spend commuting. Still it is striking that most of the reasons for working (in my case studying) from a how office she alleges could also be regarded as distracting from work.

Nadja Schlüter gives some more student oriented benefits. She states that you would have to carry a lot of books, copies, notes and of course some nutrition somewhere else to start working. Also she thinks that whispering due to a interdiction of speech is a lot more distracting than short conversations. The argument that you can work better in libraries because of the working crowd sitting around you is weakened by the suggestion that most people are either on Facebook or on a newspaper website anyways before taking a one hour coffee break. The biggest contrast of her home office solution is the following:

The Library

Having a new library directly in the middle of the city is one reason why I tried this method. I am of course speaking of the wonderful Grimm Centre close to Friedrichstraße. A while ago studying there was actually quite cozy but every year when exam period begins it’s starting to get more and more crowded. Same with the library of the HWR, which I really dislike because of the opening hours. I mean who finishes intensive studying at 7pm or who is calm enough to start at 10am? Another annoying fact of the Grimm Centre is that it has more and more become a runway. It’s not like you go there however you fall out of bed anymore. This has of course pros and cons, which are not interesting in this context though. I prefer going to a public library instead. This is not dependent on exam periods and it’s no runway but this is my opinion. But what makes studying from a library so attractive?

Veronique Schneider argues that it is the ritual of leaving the home zone and going to “work” what increases her productivity the most. Putting the Euro coin into the slot of the locker just activates her productivity mode. This is also the concept of the co-working spaces all over the world. They provide an opportunity to work independently (as in a library) including a “going to work”-feeling.

The only thing that has sometimes distracted Veronique from working was the permanent will of some students to flirt. Therefore she has decided to go to libraries of courses which are usually only visited by the same gender, in her case women and to completely  exclude the possibility of flirts she leaves the house just as social compatible as needed to say hello to the library administration.

Group work

For me this works perfectly fine for some courses but leads into a completely wrong direction in others. Actually there are two types of exams. The ones where you have to prove that you know certain things by heart and there is other ones where you have to prove the understanding of the topic. I prefer the second type but you usually can’t choose. For me it proved to be a good idea to work with a partner and explain each other what you have just studied. This you usually cannot do in libraries so you basically don’t have the choice between the two possibilities mentioned before. Together it’s harder to get procrastinated though since the combined motivation of more than one person is stronger than the lure of cleaning the house. So what is speaking against group work then?

The author of nyessay mentions that group work can be the “most stressful and emotionally exhausting part of student’s lives”. Yolanda concludes that there are several disadvantages. The strongest argument is in my opinion that it is hard to find the right balance of power. Most of the time not everyone is given an equal voice in the group. Dominant or conflicting personalities could interfere, which could lead to an éclat.

There are of course certain benefits observed by the two bloggers. This reaches from sharing of workload over covering a wider spectrum to having additional input of ideas. Yolanda summarizes the advantages quite nicely. Collaborative work often develops a sharper sense for critical thinking due to an ongoing conversation about the topic. Also the group is benefitting from the input of ones strengths everyone offers. You could describe it as a steady learning process.

For the individual advantages we had creating this blog I would encourage you to read the After Effects section of this blog.

The Basement

As I have already mentioned there are two kinds of exams. To study for the ones where you need to prove knowing certain information by heart I usually go to a place without any other people, without internet access or any other distraction. Totally isolating myself helps me memorizing things for a certain amount of time. I could express this in a certainly macabre term but I think I don’t have to in order to make you understand.

Summarizing these strategies I reckon everyone has to find his own path through it. Of course studying with a friend is mostly the nicest option but sometimes it is simply not possible. There is no right or wrong. One has to decide for oneself how it is most efficient for him. In my case ta combination of these strategies has lead me to success. In the end they helped me balance university and private life a little better.

These were of course only a few ideological methods to increase efficiency and I am afraid to be stuck for the answer of the IT-based  methods this time but we have discussed them a lot already and there might be a next post sometime soon.