Do you spend too much time using Anki...but not enough on actually learning?
So you've discovered Anki, believed that it will help you reduce your study time, and help you remember anything you want.
But as it turns out, you still feel like there's too much to learn and there's too little time.
You get buried in mountains of due reviews...
You find it really hard to remember big ideas even after using Anki...
You feel that it's taking you so much time to study because you feel like you have to make a card on every single detail...
You can't remember long lists, even after using the Cloze Overlapper add-on...
You can't understand new concepts at a reasonable speed...
And worst of all, making flashcards take you a REALLY long time.
If you feel like I've just described what you're going on right now, then hear me out:
As someone who's been in ALL situations back in 2018 and ended up at the top 0.2% of students nationwide in my Engineering Board Exams after a couple months....
I can be sure of one thing:
That is, if you're experiencing at least 3 of the above right now, then at this moment, you're probably feeling behind of the class right now. After all, your peers finish a lot more material faster than you do — and they don't even use Anki!
Just what the heck is going on?
Well, I'm here to show you why that's the case for many people — that probably includes YOU.
Let me start this my telling you two brutal truths nobody else online will tell you:
Two "epiphanies," as I call them.
Epiphany #1: Anki alone is NOT enough.
As you may know, it IS possible to learn anything faster with Anki. But, that is true if and only if you're using it with respect to how your brain encodes information. (more on this later)
Of course, you'd think that "scientifically proven study hacks" would do that for you, but in practice? They won't, because they don't answer the more important questions, such as:
- How do you integrate Anki into your studying without spending a lot of time making flashcards?
- If I'm taking notes, then what should/shouldn't I put in my notes?
- How do I determine what "important information" is?
- How can I finish a mountain of materials without burning out?
- How do you memorize confusing facts and long lists using Anki?
Which brings me to the next point...
Epiphany #2: Consuming more advice — "best" hacks/techniques/apps — won't save you.
They have failure mechanisms built-in, no matter how much these ad-infested YouTube channels give you as "proof" that they work.
I want you to picture this in your mind:
Imagine seeing your best friend drowning in a middle of the pool...
He's crying for help but there's nobody else nearby who can swim — except you.
As you swim your way toward your sunken friend's bubbles, what do you think you'd do next?
Would you say, "Here, have a drink. There's more where that came from"?
OF COURSE NOT — because you'd take your friend out of the damn pool! (Uhm, right?)
So why in the world do we feel like we have to "drink more water" when we are the ones who's "drowning" in information?
I mean, have you ever wondered why there's SO MUCH free information out there yet only a few people seem to get real, permanent results?
That's because the truth is that you do NOT need more advice.
You can Google all you want, go down multiple rabbit holes...
But at the end of the day, that's like chugging margaritas while drowning in the middle of a 10-ft pool.
You don't need "more information" — you need better implementation!
Sure, information is 100% free online. In fact, when I was still in Engineering, they were my go-to resources.
Other blogs. You name it.
But information is just a means to thinking, deciding, and acting better.
There's a point where the only thing holding you back is better implementation.
This is the point where most students are today — the point where they don't need more information to get better results.
You're probably in this position, too.
And if you are, let me tell you about a better alternative to "finding more study hacks".
A systematic way of studying.
If you don't fix your broken system, then nothing else matters
By "systematic way," I mean having a set of elements/actions that work together to achieve a specific goal.
Why should you even bother?
Because of one simple fact: It does NOT matter how many "best tips/tools" you use or how much "methods" you know if they don't work together to achieve your very specific goal!
Same goes with any kind of system in your life.
If your "family system" consisted of "top 10 kindest people," but everyone had incompatible values, then that's not going to end up being the "best family."
If your car merely had the "best wheels, engine, seats, chassis, etc.," but it results in poor handling, then that's not going to end up as the "best car."
That's because of the first rule of system optimization...
Optimizing each element of the system individually is the best way to compromise the performance of the whole.
Read that multiple times. Drill it into your head. It's super important these days.
Heck, why do you think rocket science is so hard?
Case in point: If you're looking to remember what you learn, this means you need to use a process that works with your memory. Based on studies in memory psychology, you can do that by:
- Freeing up your attention and working memory for processing information
- Improving the encoding & storage processes you use to learn new material (instead of "note-taking tips" and just highlighting the words)
- Performing spaced retrieval the right way to maintain hard-earned, encoded knowledge
- Increasing the levels of processing when learning newer material
(Fun fact: Many straight-A students unconsciously use the same principles to score high on exams)
This framework gives you the freedom to use ANY set of tools as long as your elements fit these criteria AND they work together to achieve a single goal.
Think of this as a design manual.
Sure, you can use your "best tips" and "best apps" — but it MUST meet your design criteria first and foremost.
Productivity is another story, but it's equally important.
If you're looking to counteract your urge to procrastinate, avoid overwhelm, and become more productive, this means:
- Knowing the difference between doing the right things and doing things right
- Eliminating ambiguity by creating structure and tracking your projects and tasks
- Matching energy demand to energy supply so you can learn more in less time (more accurately: not learn slower than usual)
- Designing your "deep work chamber" — an environment that has only the right habit triggers; and
- Using a productivity system — not apps, system — that eliminate the Zeigarnik Effect, (or, need for closure) the main cause of stress while working
That's really all there is to it. You don't need to remember 101 tips and hacks to focus for long hours and stop procrastination. All you need is to pull the right levers. That's what I mean when I say "being systematic."
And if you look at the most productive knowledge workers and most productive students, they have all of these in one way or another — whether they are consciously aware of it or not.
And I can guarantee you that long as you meet all these, you can learn productively EVEN IF you're using a completely analog system. (i.e. pen and paper)
So, are we on the same page now?
This is what I'm talking about when I say "your system has to work together."
I'm sure you'll agree that everything I've said so far is quite different from what "YouTube experts" out there teach, simply because there are no "hacks" right here — these are all principles.
And honestly, I don't even think you have to be as "superhuman" as these YouTubers seem to be, in order to achieve great results for yourself.
You don't need to follow "20 best tips to get X result fast."
The truth is, you just have to create a decent system that aligns with your goals and tweak it to your liking as you go along — as long as you follow proven principles.
Principles outlive mere hacks and techniques.
You can use them over and over again for DECADES.
Again, using principles, it doesn't matter what specific apps or tactics you use, as long as you meet them.
If you didn't know already, these are the same things I put into my system to go from an average college student with failing grades...
...to becoming one of the top 1% of passers (6 out of 2900+) in the national Engineering Board Exams last 2019.
I even use similar systems right now to maintain my life commitments, while studying only a few hours per week to maintain my Grad School scholarship.
Are my results perfect or ideal?
Nope — far from it.
My classmates have gotten way higher grades than me, even though they're also full-time professors and employees! (Why, you ask? I intentionally avoid submitting hard assignments that give low percentages...)
But, compare that to how I was back in College, then you'd say I've achieved great results so far.
And I know you can do the same, too.
After constantly iterating upon that same system I used, I'm excited to tell you that I'm now ready to teach it to you, so you can start acing your exams and get in the top 10% of your classes, too.
Good news: After 2 years and 200+ students, studying effectively has never been simpler.