Taking Amazing Notes

When taking notes during a lecture, you want to be focusing on two things:

  1. Writing down everything important.
  2. Drawing pictures.

Now, you might be a bit thrown off by the second point. There isn’t enough time to draw pictures… And even there was, why should we waste our time drawing in a lecture that we paid to be in? Well to start, the images you want to be drawing should relate to the content of the lecture. This includes sketches of objects that your notes are referring to or sketches of scenarios that you need to know.

As well as this, you want to write the notes in a creative way. This includes using different types of bullet points, dashes, arrows, connecting lines, block letters, colour, etc.

The reasoning behind this is that the mind remembers and understands pictures much better than it does words. Although there isn’t enough time in the average lecture to create detailed pictures and mind maps of the concepts, drawing quick sketches and organizing the notes more creatively helps a ton. The key is to turn your words into pictures. This makes your notes much easier to read, and it helps you form connections while in lecture.

Through doing this, I have gotten more out of my classes and now require less time overall to study. Once the connections and relationships between concepts are formed early (during or before lecture), then you no longer need to spend your time studying to memorize. You spend your time studying to understand. And that’s a lot easier than memorization.

A note from Psych - Intro to Learning & Behaviour

A note from Psych – Intro to Learning & Behaviour

 

Create An Exciting Morning Routine

The beginning of each day is SO crucial to how your mood throughout the day will be. When you have structure in your mornings, you’re way more likely to be in a positive state of mind during the day. The key here is to develop a routine that excites you. Something that makes you look forward to going to bed, so that you can wake up and eagerly get started on the next day.

I’ll explain my current routine, and then will break it down in terms of what positive results I get from each part.

My Routine

7:00am - Wake up and put in contacts

7:05 - Contrast shower (Hot for washing, then blast cold water after)

7:20 - Listen to a podcast/audiobook while getting dressed and brewing my bulletproof coffee

7:50 - Cook breakfast (3 eggs + egg whites scrambled, turkey bacon and 1/4 of a cucumber)

8:00 - Eat breakfast while watching a motivational/inspiring video on youtube

8:10 - Take vitamins/supplements (currently Fish Oil, Vitamin C and Vitamin D3)

8:15 - Start the day (this could include going to class, studying, working on a personal project, going to the gym, etc.)

The Breakdown

Contrast Shower: Facing the fear of standing in cold water for two minutes sets the tone of the day. It hammers into me the concept of doing things I’m scared of. And then when I come out of the shower, I feel invincible. The energy rush you get is incomparable to anything else. You could be exhausted after only a few hours sleep, and the water will wake you right up. Also, I usually ask myself the Tony Robbins Morning Power questions while I’m in the shower – http://training.tonyrobbins.com/morning-questions-use-the-power-of-questions-to-change-your-life/ – which puts me in a great mood as well.

Podcasts: These are amazing for mornings. You can just throw one on while doing your routine, and it’s filling your mind with positive, informative, and hopefully motivating information. It always puts me into a productive mindset.

Bulletproof Coffee: A nice blend of Bulletproof Coffee beans, grass fed butter and brain octane oil gives me SO MUCH mental focus, clarity and energy that I don’t think I’ll ever stop drinking it in the mornings. See https://www.bulletproofexec.com/how-to-make-your-coffee-bulletproof-and-your-morning-too/.

Vitamins/Supplements: I used to get sick almost twice a month before taking vitamins in the morning. After starting to take these, I haven’t gotten sick in the past 4 months.

After completing this routine, I’m always energized, in a positive mood, and am pumped to start my next task. It’s one of the sparks in my day.

Streaks of Awesomeness

Practicing self development activities for long enough will eventually lead to what I call a streak of awesomeness. To put it simply, this is when everything in your life is completely awesome. Your base state will be happiness, and you will have frequent peaks throughout the days where you’re so clear minded, so energized and so happy that you can fully feel the endorphins and dopamine flow all throughout your body.

A streak of awesomeness is a great way to experience what is comparable to the positive aspects of psychoactive drugs, without having to worry about the harmful effects. Although problems arise, you don’t let them lower your state because so many things in your life are just too damn good. In an awesomeness streak, your mood will be so uplifted that when you encounter failures, you can’t help but ONLY focus on the other success you’re experiencing.

To be in an awesomeness streak, I will outline some essential things you must be doing; of which at least few must be happening (for me, at least):

  • I must be FULLY present to the moment
    • This comes from practicing meditation and mindfulness DAILY
  • I must be actively taking action toward a big, purposeful goal of mine
    • Recently, my goal has been to improve my networking skills. I’ve been working at this by attending entrepreneurship Meetup events in Toronto and networking with business professionals. Forcing myself to go to these has been an amazing way to build my confidence in networking.
  • I must be eating healthy, energizing foods
    • I’ve been doing this by adding more and more foods from Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof diet into my meals, and cutting out the toxic foods
  • I must be taking cold showers in the morning
    • I can’t stress enough how good I feel after standing in 2 minutes of ice cold water after washing myself with hot water. Cold Showers fill me with energy, happiness, motivation, and focus.
  • I must be following through with a workout routine
    • Whenever I miss too many scheduled days in a row of going to the gym, my routine gets thrown off balance and it becomes harder to remember how good it feels to go in the first place.
  • A great way to track your daily progress is through a website I use called taskrise.com. When your week is full of green checks, that usually means you’re due for an awesomeness streak.

    Feel free to share your stories of your awesomeness streaks in the comments below!

    Learning

    Being university students, a large amount of our time is spent on learning. Now you would think that students paying thousands of dollars each year to attend theses courses would be really excited about learning the material. Though this is not the case. Many of us tend to dislike certain classes, get overwhelmed by the material or just lose interest in our courses. And though this may be from a variety of factors (stress, time management problems, or a general lack of interest), I believe there is one variable has a SIGNIFICANT impact on our interest in learning.

    The material we learn in school is all on an intellectual basis. Everything we learn is learnt through the mind, and only the mind. A great way to spark a higher interest in studying is if students spiced up their learning by learning a physical skill – aside from their studies. Examples of skills I’ve had a great time learning aside from my studies are juggling, skateboarding, meditation, touch typing, new workout routines, yoga, etc. Having something to look forward to that involves moving the body is a great way to balance the constant studying.

    Choose The Right Environment

    When searching to spice up my routine, I decided to do some work in some uncommon places; starting with the bus. At first I thought being surrounded by people in a crowded area would be perfect as there would be so many places to draw ideas from. So I packed up my notebook, grabbed my coat and hopped on the bus. Fifteen minutes went by. I soon realized how wrong I was. The bus was shaky, stopping every few minutes, making way more noise than I had hoped. It was way too distracting. This led me to the realization that there are some environments that just aren’t meant for creation.

    A loud, bumpy, distracting environment like a bus is better suited to consume, rather than create. That’s the type of environment where you would read a book, throw on headphones, or have a conversation. While a quiet, relaxing, peaceful environment is suited perfectly to create. A place to draw ideas from within yourself. To be inspired. I would also include studying in the create category, because it’s more active  than reading (if you’re doing it right).

     Qualities of a good environment to create in:

    • A clean, clear space with natural lighting

    creation environment

     

    • A quite place outside during a beautiful day

    outside mac photo

     

    There are tons more of my favourites, and I’ll continue to update this article as I take more photos!

    Find Your Spark

    To have the most exciting day possible, you need to have something to look forward to. Something you’re interested in, passionate about, or anything that you are itching to get done. I like to call this your spark. For me, this is usually a personal project. Right now, my spark is creating and building this website. Every morning when I wake up, I’m excited to work on this. This sets the tone for the rest of the day. Knowing that I will soon be able to take the time to work on the site allows me to find peace in moments of boredom.

    A spark is any activity you look forward to doing each day.

    A smart thing to do is to give yourself multiple sparks, so you have multiple things to look forward to. As of now, some of my other sparks include going to the gym, reading, meditating, and traveling. You can give yourself as many as you want. With a broad range of interests, you’re guaranteed to have a more exciting day!

    Now, I can’t tell you what your spark is; that’s something you have to discover within yourself. But I can invite you to ask yourself a few questions to find it within yourself:

    • What skill do you want to learn within the next 6 months?
    • What hobby or activity excites you?
    • What’s one personal project that you can start to increase the quality of your day?

    Asking yourself these types of questions is great for self-reflection. Once you really start to think, you’ll start jogging through ideas in your head, and will hopefully be able to find something that you can implement today!

     

    Start Early, So You Don’t Have To Finish Late

    Excitement for the day comes when you’re on top of your work, and to be on top of your work, you need productivity.

    As we strive to be productive, we will undoubtedly go through cycles. There are ups, which are spent with high levels of momentum, there are downs, which are spent taking time to relax, and then there’s  everywhere in between. Don’t get stuck in between. This is the place where those cool ideas you thought of doing in a previously motivated state get put off, half-finished, or discarded completely.

    The easiest way to get stuck in between is to go to sleep without finishing your daily tasks. There have been countless times when I  have lost momentum throughout the day, and ended up going to sleep without finishing everything that needed to be done. This always leads to me playing catch up the next day, and having to re-gain the momentum I had previously built. And believe me, it’s a struggle. If your momentum occurs in waves like this, your progress will be small. Much smaller and much more delayed than what your potential would have been in your last highly productive state.

    Unless you’re sick, are getting sick, or think you are going to get sick for not getting enough sleep, then DO NOT leave tasks undone while going to sleep.

    If you had appropriately planned out your day with your desired goals the night before, you wouldn’t need to miss sleep to finish them. But with the unpredictable nature of life stepping in the way, it can be easy to take sleep over finishing your goals on the same day. This is a mistake I have made too many times in the past, and strive to never make again. Losing momentum sucks, and this is a simple way to ensure it doesn’t happen.

    Even if it’s 1am on a weeknight and you have 8:30am class the next morning, I believe it’s still better to take 20-30 minutes extra to get started/complete the goals you had set for the day earlier, than to put it off ’til the next day. Finishing those tasks will allow your state of momentum to continue on to the next day, making it that much easier to jump into a productive state and hit the day hard.

    To stay productive, you need momentum, and to stay in a state of momentum, you can’t always let sleep get in your way. That’s why it’s so important to start early, so you don’t have to finish late.

    Listen To Pump-Up Music

    This simple habit always makes the most menial tasks exciting. From cooking breakfast with headphones on (or preferably speakers; if your roommates don’t mind), to blasting my favourite EDM song while studying, doing this never ceases to elevate my state.

    Now when I say pump-up music, I’m not necessarily talking about party music. Any type of music that triggers you to enter a better state will do. Seriously,  as long as you can vibe to it, it works. 

    The positive emotions that flow through your body – when you’re listening to a song you love – are just incredible. Where do you think the phrase “I’m feeling this song” came from? Music is a great way to trigger positive emotions, and it’s a phenomenal way to spice up a seemingly mundane situation.

     

    Headphones

    My headphones of choice.

    Music brings my focus into the present moment. The positive feelings that are brought up in me from listening to my favourite tracks force me to start noticing – what Eckhart Tolle refers to as – the Now. To be immersed in the present moment, while listening to (and feeling) the music is a beautiful experience, and I definitely recommend doing it more often!

    Here are a few songs that really amp up my emotions:

    • Benny Benassi ft. Gary Go – Cinema
    • Savant – Sledgehammer
    • Pokey LaFarge – Move Out Of Town
    • Born Ruffians – Badonkadonkey
    • Chance The Rapper – Favourite Song (feat. Childish Gambino)

    I threw in a variety of  genres here, feel free to share your favourite tracks in the comments below!

    Here’s a quick video I created showing the differences between doing chores with and without music playing:

    Listen to Pump-Up Music from Luke Cohen on Vimeo.

    Get Into Your Productive State

    Productivity Image

    When most people think of productivity, they think of it in terms of tasks. Getting things done; efficiently and effectively. To accomplish tasks and to do work. While this may be true, I believe productivity is a state of mind. One that requires you to consciously enter in order to be productive. Once you enter the productive state, you will produce results.

    This state of mind can be entered easily, when you know what it feels like.

    The next time you are working productively, notice how your body feels (relaxed, tingly, etc.), how your mind feels (focused, confident, etc.). Really take note of your feelings until you have a solid picture in your head of what this state means to you. Once you know this, you can harness the state and achieve it in a more effective manner

    Why do so many people spend so much of their time engaged in meaningless tasks? Why is it that we all have moments where we just don’t feel like working? Well, it all comes down to the state of mind one is currently in. If you’re lying down and watching a movie or on your phone (and comfortable), then your body won’t want to be productive. You need to generate momentum with your actions to change your state.

    Momentum is how you get yourself out of one state of mind and into another. It is essential to transition from a lazy, unmotivated head space to a clear, focused head space. Now, there are certain actions you can take to build momentum. I am going to describe a few things that have helped me build enough momentum to enter a productive state.

    1. As soon as you notice yourself slipping into a lazy state, get up and move. Say out loud to yourself, “I am now entering a productive state of mind”. Stand up, stretch your body, breathe deeply, and  appreciate the life around you. Feel the sensations flow through you during the stretch, and concentrate on how good it feels. If you continue to stretch and breathe deeply for a few minutes, your body should feel pretty damn good.  Right after, go where you need to go and do what you need to do. This should build enough momentum for you to hit the ground running with your tasks fast.

    2. When you decide you want to start being productive, laugh. Laugh out loud, and laugh loud. It doesn’t matter if you feel the need to laugh or not, just start laughing. Think about how silly it is that you were previously wasting your time for so long. Think about how you are proactively changing your state, while other people sit around procrastinating. After a solid 10-15 seconds of laughing, and another 15 to take in the fact that it’s this easy to change your state, start doing your tasks.

    These two exercises have greatly helped me enter a state where momentum comes easily. The most important thing you should do after trying these is start your work right away. For me, if I then work for at least 10-15 minutes, I’m fully immersed in a productivity head space, and won’t want to stop.

    Let me know if these exercises work for you, and post in the comments any other state-changing tips that you have!

    Welcome to An Exciting Day!

    An Exciting Day

    Hey everyone! I’m happy that you’ve come across this website, and I hope it provides you with inspiration. I’ve created this website as a tool, specifically one for university students. Here you will find all the essential habits, mindsets and activities to make your day exciting. I’m currently in business school in Waterloo, Ontario, and I hope what I’ve learned can help other students as well. I have spent years of my life experimenting with different routines and habits to maximize my day. From what I have learned, there are  certain core actions to take that will significantly increase the quality of each day. If you follow the advice in the articles here, you are guaranteed to learn how to make each day more exciting than the last!