How to Cure Athlete's Foot or Tinea Pedis Quickly

How to cure your athlete's foot infection and keep it from coming back
I suffered from athlete's foot for most of my life  after contracting it as a kid while my leg was in a cast for four weeks.  I can still remember seeing chunks of skin flaking off my feet and legs when the cast was removed.  And after that, if my socks got wet during the day, the itching would get insane in the evening and it would keep me up at night.  I had to sleep with my feet sticking over the side of my bed because if they touched anything they would itch like crazy. And the skin on my feet would dry up and peel off in big pieces, and I'd get cracks between my toes where blood would ooze through and form scabs. Nice, huh?
Tinea pedis is typically caused by a fungus that was initially endemic only to Southeast Asia and in parts of Africa and Australia. Only the natives from these areas didn't seem to know about it. It wasn't until Europeans started colonizing these areas wearing shoes that completely enclosed their feet which provided a dark, warm, moist environment - perfect little fungal nurseries - that athlete's foot really took off. By foot. Literally. It took off to Europe and then spread everywhere else when soldiers returned home from the trenches in 1917.[1]
This would seem to suggest a cure might be to wear sandals or to go barefoot. In my experience, once you have athlete's foot, wearing open footwear will make things worse because your feet will dry out and start cracking and bleeding.
The most recommended treatment is a twice a day application of an anti-fungal cream on the feet, once before putting socks on in the morning, and before going to bed. [1] You may want to wear socks to bed to keep the cream from getting on your sheets.
Try using a non-prescription topical cream or gel containing terbinafine, tolnaftate, or miconazole. Powders can be very messy to apply, as are sprays unless the spray pattern is focused on a small area. The most effective of these non-prescription treatments appears to be terbinafine and tolnaftate with cure rates of about 70% and 64% based on a review of various studies. [2] Terbinafine is more expensive, but results are seen in half the time compared to tolnaftate (2 weeks versus 4), so it may be cheaper in the long run. Miconazole has a lower cure rate of only 47%. Your success will depend mostly on how rigorously you adhere to the twice a day application schedule.
It is recommended that the treatment continue for a month (2 weeks for terbinafine) even though the symptoms disappear early on in order to completely eliminate the infection. Otherwise you can pretty much count on becoming re-infected.  After two or three days things will get much better and you may get lazy about applying the cream, but you've got to keep this up or the infection may return.
One side effect that got me personally that I haven't seen documented is that the cream you put on your feet can migrate through your socks and down to the insoles of your shoes. In my case, terbinafine (or some other inactive ingredient in Lamisil) started leaching a blue dye out of my custom orthotics which turned the bottom of my feet a very light blue color and made my feet itch. After a couple of weeks of treatment, my feet showed no signs of fungus but they itched more than ever. Naturally, thinking I still had an infection, I continued to apply more cream everyday to get rid of the itching and, of course, the itching became more severe. I figured out what was happening after wrapping my orthotics with saran wrap.
Home remedies:
Garlic, or more precisely, a compound found in garlic, ajoene, may be very effective. In one study, a 1% ajoene cream was found to be more effective than terbinafine. [3] Unfortunately, ajoene creams are not available commercially and do-it-yourself treatments using garlic can burn your skin in some cases.
There are a lot of other home remedies available that seem plausible, but little hard data in the form of clinical trials is available as far as I know. Many of home remedies involve soaking your feet twice a day in an anti-fungal solution for 20 or 30 minutes - a big time sink compared to applying a spray or cream. Even if we were to assume soaking was effective, and I suspect in some cases it probably is, will you have the patience to continue soaking your feet for an hour a day for a month after your symptoms disappear in order to save a whole 30 cents a day?
There is a particular non over-the-counter remedy, very dilute potassium permanganate dissolved in hot water, that is said to be very effective, but I suggest you avoid it unless 1) you are extremely careful to ensure it is dilute enough (because minor fungal infections are better to have than chemical burns), 2) you have the time and patience prepare a solution and soak your feet for 20 minutes twice a day for a month, and 3) you have some way of disposing of toxic waste, since the solution is a poison and shouldn't be dumped down drains or into the soil. [4]
tea tree leaves
Tea tree oil is somewhat effective but not as effective as the non-prescription drugs according to one study. [5]
If these recommended treatments are not effective or if you have an extensive infection, see a doctor because you may need a prescription creme such as econazole or nystatin or you may have a different problem such as eczema, psoriasis or perhaps even a tough yeast infection. If you have a particularly brutal infection with cracking and itching and the whole oozing blood thing, you almost certainly have a bacterial infection as well as fungal, and you should see a doctor.
[1] C. Robbins, Tinea Pedis, Medscape Reference
[2] T. Markova, What is the most effective treatment for tinea pedis (athlete’s foot)?, The Journal of Family Practice, Vol. 51, No. 1, Jan. 2002
[3] A. O'Connor, Remedies: Garlic for Athlete’s Foot, The New York Times, January 6, 2011
[4] S. Moore, What are the dangers of potassium permanganate?,
[5] M. Tong, P. Altman, R. Barnetson, Tea tree oil in the treatment of tinea pedis, Australas J Dermatol, 1992;33(3):145-9.

How to Start a Small Business with a High Probability of Success

Why you should start your dream business at home and grow it before you quit your day job
The motivation to be an entrepreneur doesn’t make economic sense. Entrepreneurs tend to make less money, work longer hours, and are more stressed compared to employees. They also tend to fail. One study found that, across all sectors, only 66% of new businesses were still in existence 2 years after their birth, and only 44% were still in existence 4 years after. The largest drop in surviving businesses occurs within the first six months, when 13% of establishments are no longer operating.  [1]
Why so many failures? Perhaps it’s because there are so many ways entrepreneurs can make mistakes. (I have intimate knowledge of a few). Some examples: [2]
  • Pursuing an non-viable business concept
  • Lack of demand or an unrealistic forecast of demand
  • No business plan
  • Lack of perseverance
  • Overspending
  • Poor marketing
  • Lack of discipline
Still, lots of people have been very successful and happy as entrepreneurs. It has been widely reported that entrepreneurs, on average, would rather stay independent than take double the pay to work for someone else. [3]  Entrepreneurs also have a lot of control over their jobs compared to employees: they can choose what to work on, who to work with, and they can’t be fired by an unfriendly boss. [4]
Characteristics of successful entrepreneurs
It’s difficult to tease out what characteristics are needed to be a successful entrepreneur. The reason for this is that most research is only on the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs and this obviously has a survivor bias. What you want to know is what separates successful from unsuccessful entrepreneurs. For example, we know that typically entrepreneurs have college degrees, are married, are 40+ years old with significant industry experience and are motivated by money. We could try to emulate some of these characteristics, thinking it would increase our chances of being successful, but, for all we know, unsuccessful entrepreneurs might have exactly the same characteristics. [5]
Lacking published research or a database to play with, I made a list of some of the small business owners, primarily co-workers, whom I have known in the last decade or so, where I know the situation pretty well:
  • An electrical engineer I worked with who wrote a software application for ham radio enthusiasts in his after work time. When he was making as much from his software as he was from his work salary, he quit and moved to Florida.
  • A former engineer and his wife who buy distressed small businesses, turn them around, and resell them after a year of two.  This is their primary source of income.
  • A scientist who runs two small businesses after work and on the weekends. Basically, he invents things, builds prototypes and then contracts out marketing and manufacturing.
  • A former professor and real estate agent who buys commercial real estate and leases the space out to small businesses.
  • A former lawyer who worked at a firm that developed software for legal applications. When he was making good money doing contract work in his after work hours, he quit and went to work on his own.
  • A computer technician at work who quit and started his own mobile computer repair service.
  • The wife of a co-worker who makes glass beads and sells them on Ebay.
  • An accountant who started an internet service for schools.
  • A former manager who started a consulting business.
You may have a similar list. If so, add it to the list above and see if you still agree with my findings. It seems that an awful lot of people are successful, and they do a wide variety of things.  The common characteristics of the entrepreneurs that I know are that they really like what they do, they have persevered in rough times, and that they build their businesses up from modest beginnings. These characteristics seem to be consistent with larger surveys [4]. I find it interesting that none of them relied on their business as their sole source of income in the beginning. (This seems to be the opposite of start-up stories on the internet, but this could be due to a publication bias - the most spectacular successes make the most interesting reads.) Also, the businesses themselves are quite diverse. Some of the business models require lots of attention; others require little attention once they get going. Most were an extension of day jobs, and the rest were thought up from scratch by the entrepreneur.
The low risk method
If we were to rely only on the existing published data, we might conclude that being an entrepreneur is akin to gambling, and should be avoided. But it seems that that there is a way to increase the odds of success. By starting a business on a small scale, with an minimum of capital, and while holding another job as an employee, we lower our risk significantly by giving ourselves a large buffer for making mistakes. If we decide we don’t like running the new business, or we make a major blunder like having a non-viable business model, we can quietly fold and still have a regular cash flow from our day job. This keeps the stress low, the workload reasonable, and reduces the increased possibility of burn-out or depression inherent to high stress situations. [6] If there comes a time that our business is successful enough to support us, then we can quit our day job and become a full time entrepreneur.
Keep it simple
A business can be as simple as writing short stories and self-publishing them, walking dogs, selling baby clothes online or doing tax returns on weekends. Only one of the businesses in the above list leases office space. This is not unusual, overall, more than half of all small businesses are home based. [7] An office might be something like a computer in the laundry room, some storage racks in a corner of the garage, or a kiln in the backyard. If we decide or have to fold, we don't need to worry about sub-leasing, canceling our utilities, insurance, mail forwarding, etc. I would think small at first; there’s a lot to learn and the smaller the business, the fewer things there are to go wrong, the less money there is to lose.
I would choose my business to suit its most important asset: me. I suspect if this is done right, a job should be like a hobby; something you enjoy. All of the people involved in the businesses above are enthusiastic about their creations. It has been said that the key to being a happy entrepreneur is to not become a slave to your business [4], so I wouldn't get involved in something that prevents me from taking a vacation once in a while or requires me to answer the phone at all hours.
Look for obvious opportunities, not just big innovations
So how do you come up with a good business idea? If you are lucky there are problems that people already come to you to solve. That's how many of the businesses above got started.
Most of the owners of the businesses described above are doing something that is related to their former or current career or a hobby of theirs. That's probably the safest way to go. Although one of the owners above invents things, most of the others have pretty common business models: making beads, fixing things, leasing space, etc. Recent research suggests that expert entrepreneurs are much more likely to prefer generating their own markets versus capturing a niche within an existing market [8], but only a couple of my example businesses seem to be innovative. Perhaps the difference is just semantics. I am using the terms entrepreneur and small business owner interchangeably, whereas others see entrepreneurs as people who generate businesses from new and revolutionary ideas and small business owners are everyone else. [9]
What if you don't have a good business idea? Then you're going to have to do what entrepreneurs do: be constantly on the lookout for profitable ideas and working through a checklist.
  • Is the problem solvable?
  • Do I have the skills necessary or can I get help from someone who does.
  • Is there a market?
  • Can I make sufficient profit?
  • What are the possible downsides?
  • Competitors?
  • What's the most I could lose?
  • Am I passionate about it?
Some sources of information/inspiration:
  • Keep a running list of unsolved problems at work and home.
  • Google search
  • Google trends
  • Google insights for search
  • Look at craigslist "gigs" for the type of problems people are looking for help with.
  • Look at the best selling items on Amazon.
  • Check out the completed auctions on Ebay to see what's selling.
  • Facebook ads
  • Newspaper and magazine classified ads
  • Look for low rated products on Amazon that are nevertheless selling. Can you improve on them?
  • Ask people for ideas.
When you come across a potential idea, don't automatically reject it just because it seems stupid at first glance - there might be a lot of money in it because everyone else who thought of it has rejected the idea. If you haven't already, go to and look at some of the businesses for sale. Some of them seem ridiculous until you see how much money they are bringing in.
Seize opportunities
A trait of many of these successful entrepreneurs is that they recognized an opportunity when they saw it and they worked hard to exploit it. This seems to be consistent with research findings. [10] It suggests that you should be open to opportunities that you didn’t see coming. If someone has a successful business model and offers to show how they did it, are you open to jumping on it? [11]
Hard at work
Be patient
Once you find something that suits you, I would plan to be at it for quite a while. It can take years to build up enough business to keep busy full time. Will you be able to continue when you are asking yourself why are you wasting your time when you could be pursing that other idea? If you choose your business such that you enjoy it, I suspect you will have a much easier time and you are more likely to be successful.
[3] The Illusions of Entrepreneurship: The Costly Myths That Entrepreneurs, Investors, and Policy Makers Live By, S. Shane, Yale University Press (2010)
[7] U.S. Small Business Administration FAQ
[8] N. Dew, S. Read, S. Sarasvathy, R. Wiltbank (2010), "On the entrepreneurial genesis of new markets: effectual transformations versus causal search and selection." [pdf]
[9] K. Spors, Why Small-Business Owners Aren’t Always Entrepreneurs, Wall Street Journal Blogs, Sept. 9, 2008
[10] "Introduction for Entrepreneurs", Society for Effectual Action Research Community
[11] T. Ferriss, How to Create a Million Dollar Business this Weekend, The Four Hour Workweek Blog, Sept. 2011

Public Speaking Therapy

How to reduce the fear of public speaking
“The mind is a wonderful thing. It starts working the minute you’re born and never stops until you get up to speak in public”.sneaking a peek
Public speaking anxiety is very common. Some estimates are that as many as 85% of people experience anxiety when they need to speak in public. For some people the anxiety becomes so intense that they panic. Avoiding public speaking is extremely effective in reducing anxiety, but it can severely limit one’s effectiveness, education, and career prospects.
Public speaking anxiety is sometimes referred to as a trait; i.e., some people become very anxious just thinking about speaking in public while others don’t seem to be bothered at all. But, it's unstable. A person who is confident in one situation may be very anxious in another because variables such as the novelty of the situation (speaking to a camera vs. a person), degree of formality required, subordinate status (senior managers in audience vs. subordinates), unfamiliarity (friends vs. strangers), audience attention (friendly vs. hostile or bored), degree of evaluation (your job depends on a key sales pitch), and prior history [1].
Midvale Company's third war bond rally. Speaker with medal at a microphone addressing rally crowd, September 28, 1943
Interestingly, we humans are poor at judging the amount of of anxiety in beginning speakers. We tend to think that speaker anxiety levels are lower, during performance, than the speakers themselves do. [2] Speaking to a negative (hostile, bored, dismissive, unappreciative) audience is very different compared to a supportive audience. A negative audience causes higher anxiety responses irrespective of the normal level of public speaking confidence of the speaker. [3]
Highly anxious speakers tend to pay less attention to their environments and have more negative, self-focused thoughts about their performances than low anxious speakers. This increase in attention to self is correlated with poorer speaking performances and lower self-evaluations. [4] Biofeedback may help anxious speakers lessen their attention to themselves. Biofeedback trained subjects demonstrated a significantly lower heart rate increase while speaking before an audience in one study. [5]
Some types of drugs have been found to be somewhat effective in lessening performance anxiety due to public speaking. Drinking alcohol before (or just the belief that one has been drinking alcohol) a public speaking performance has been shown to reduce the intensity of anxiety in individuals with social phobia. This may motivate alcohol use among socially phobic individuals. [6] Also, cannabidiol, a compound found in the cannabis sativa plant (marijuana), was found to significantly reduce anxiety during speech performance.  [7] There is also a class of drugs known as beta-blockers which do not alleviate anxiety so much as they block the action of adrenaline on the body. Unfortunately, there are serious potential side effects which include slow/irregular heartbeat and severe allergic reactions. [8]
Four types of interventions are commonly used [1], and they can be, and are typically, combined:
Systematic desensitization attempts to break or lessen the unconscious negative connection between anxiety and public speaking. It usually involves relaxation methods and imagined public speaking situations.
Cognitive modification involves discussing fears about public speaking and discussing, with a trained therapist, how each belief is irrational along with some anxiety coping techniques. Exposure therapy is one type of cognitive modification. The basic idea is to expose an individual to what they fear (for example, spiders or doctors) for an extended period of time and they will tend to fear that object or thing less over time. Practicing speaking in front of an audience is a type of exposure therapy that has been shown to be effective.
Skills training refers to techniques that are intended to improve specific speaking behaviors such as organization, topic selection, non-verbal delivery tips, keeping your hands out of your pockets, etc. Although skills training is the most common, it is the least effective.
Unfortunately, the research on public speaking anxiety doesn’t suggest any easy fixes. Exposure therapy combined with skills training seems to be the best course of action. [1] I expected hypnosis might be an effective treatment, but the research available shows that it only seems to be effective if the subject strongly believes that it will be effective. I think we can rule out the use of alcohol and “pretreatment with cannabidiol” since these have other undesirable side effects (like slowed thinking and slurred speech) and may get you fired, checked into a drug program or arrested. Beta-blocker drugs may help your performance by making you shake less, but they won’t reduce the anxiety you feel.
Robbert de Weijer speaking
My experience with presentation anxiety is that an effective therapy is repetitive practice in front of a supportive audience combined with a few skills techniques that I think are helpful. For example, concentrate solely on getting your message across to your audience while you are speaking, and nothing else. Especially not on self-focused thoughts like “Do I come across as an idiot?”
I took the Dale Carnegie Course on public speaking (back when it was 14 weeks long) and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone who is a beginning speaker. The basic methodology of the course is to get each student in front of an audience every meeting and, over an extended period of time, slowly get them adjusted to it. In other words, it’s exposure therapy along with some skills training.
At the beginning of the course, I spent hours preparing for my nervous two minute presentation to the class. Toward the end of the course, I could come up with and rehearse my speech from scratch during the time my fellow students were delivering their talks. With 45 or so students in the class, I could come up with and rehearse a two minute speech silently to myself easily over 30 times (while I pretended to listen to my classmates – horrible, I know) before I went up front to present.
Unfortunately, many presentations at work involve a number of factors that tend to raise the stress level: a hostile, bored, dismissive, unappreciative audience with higher ranking people present is not an unusual situation for managers. Some status update type presentations happen daily with this type of audience. Thankfully, these can be rehearsed by just making up different status reports and pretending to deliver them to an unappreciative audience. If you focus intensely on just getting the information across, you will hardly even notice whether the audience is disinterested.
My organization hired consultants to give some of our managers and senior individual contributors a two day workshop on advanced public speaking. We had to speak in a number of difficult situations (for example, taking questions from a hostile audience, or speaking in front of a camera with a reporter about an imagined safety incident) with no chance to practice. Everything was videotaped and we received immediate feedback on our performance. My boss was doing extremely well compared to the rest of us, so I asked him about it. It turned out that he regularly mentally rehearsed speaking under difficult conditions.
Videotaped feedback is effective for inexperienced speakers. I discovered that I was using the words “actually” and “like” excessively. I mean, like, a lot, actually.
Practice your presentation a minimum of ten times. Shorter talks should be practiced even more – like 30 or even 60 times. Shorter talks with strict time limits will have to memorized.
Don’t think about yourself while presenting. Focus on getting your message across to the audience. Videotape yourself a few times while rehearsing your talk and critique yourself afterwards. If you are really focusing on the message, you won’t even be aware that you are doing dumb little things, like repeating a word excessively, for example, while presenting.
I recommend the Dale Carnegie Course, especially if you have little or no speaking experience and have social phobia. They start you out slowly and are very supportive of students with severe anxiety.
4H Presentation Day 2010
Join a speaking club like Toastmasters, POWERtalk, etc. These provide practice opportunities in front of a supportive audience. You will also learn to provide feedback to other speakers. You will need this skill in order to critique your own videotaped talks. If you are presenting as part of a class, do practice presentations in your study group prior to speaking to the whole class.
If you are making a big presentation that you absolutely can’t screw up, hire a coach (aka executive coaches, senior trainers, speech consultants, acting coaches, etc.) early on to get you through it. I might consider seeing my doctor about beta-blockers if I had an extreme problem with shaking or sweating and I really needed to appear confident for a particular speech.
Remember that being too relaxed while giving a talk can be as bad as being too nervous. You could find yourself picking your nose or scratching yourself if you are too comfortable.
Avoid stimulants like coffee or nicotine on the day of the speech as these will exaggerate your jitters. Speaking will be stimulating enough.
Related external links
[1] G. Bodie, "A Racing Heart, Rattling Knees, and Ruminative Thoughts: Defining, Explaining, and Treating Public Speaking Anxiety", Communication Education, v59 n1 p70-105 Jan 2010
[2] R. Behnkea, C. Sawyera & P. Kingb, "The communication of public speaking anxiety", Communication Education, v36 issue 2, 1987
[3] D. Pertaub, M. Slater & C. Barker, "An Experiment on Public Speaking Anxiety in Response to Three Different Types of Virtual Audience", Presense, February 2002, Vol. 11, No. 1, Pages 68-78
[4] J. Daly, A. Vangelisti & S. Lawrence, "Self-focused attention and public speaking anxiety", Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 10, Issue 8, 1989, Pages 903-913
[5] M. McKinney and R. Gatchel, "The comparative effectiveness of heart rate biofeedback, speech skills training, and a combination of both in treating public-speaking anxiety", Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, Volume 7, Number 1, 71-87
[6] K. Abrams, M. Kushner, K. Medina & A. Voight, "The pharmacologic and expectancy effects of alcohol on social anxiety in individuals with social phobia", Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 2001 Oct 1;64(2):219-31.
[7] Bergamaschi MM, Queiroz RH, Chagas MH, de Oliveira DC, De Martinis BS, Kapczinski F, Quevedo J, Roesler R, Schröder N, Nardi AE, Martín-Santos R, Hallak JE, Zuardi AW, Crippa JA., "Cannabidiol reduces the anxiety induced by simulated public speaking in treatment-naïve social phobia patients", Neuropsychopharmacology. 2011 May;36(6):1219-26. Epub 2011 Feb 9.
[8] Beta blockers side effects, webpage

How to Study Effectively

How to study hard and effectively 
First of all, you need about two hours of study time per hour of lecture in college. Of course, this is just an average. If you are taking Math 55 at Harvard, you may spend 40 hours a week just on problem sets alone. In junior college classes, you may get by on 30 minutes of studying per hour of lecture.  But, on average, a 3 unit or credit class load implies up to 6 hours of studying per week in addition to the 3 hours of lecture. Studying hard is worth the effort though: post college wages are positively correlated with study time in college. [1]  An hour of studying is defined as 45 to 50 minutes of undisturbed concentration followed by 10 to 15 minute break of physical activity such as walking. [2] [3]
Mental activity burns a lot of glucose, exactly like endurance sports. Keep blood sugar available to your brain by ingesting a small amount of glucose as needed. [4] Ideal snacks that provide glucose are baby carrots, apple slices, and nuts. Avoid dried fruit unless you can brush your teeth afterwards. If food is not allowed where you study, try using the glucose tablets used by diabetics.
Avoid eating a diet that regularly includes added fructose without fiber such as soft drinks and candy. Researchers have found that a sustained diet high in free fructose slows the brain down and negatively affects memory and learning. [20] Consumption of Omega-3 fatty acid seems to counteract the effect, but only partially. The effect is striking. Rats fed a diet high in free fructose and low in Omega-3 fatty acids took nearly 5 times as long to remember a task they had learned 6 weeks earlier compared to rats on a healthy diet.
If possible, study in hour long chunks in the morning and in the afternoon instead of one long time period to take advantage of the spacing effect[5] Avoid studying in bits of time less than one hour throughout the day. When you draw up a schedule for yourself, pencil in the lectures, and then one hour (minimum) blocks of time for studying. Then add everything else.
Always study in a quiet location free of visual distractions. Noise of any kind, whether rhythmic music or random background noise, has repeatedly been shown to have a negative effect on learning and retention. [6] Memory recall has been found to be significantly better when distractions were minimized. If you are forced to study in a noisy environment, it might be wise to wear noise cancelling headphones or ear plugs. Memory "athletes" wear ear plugs under head phones plus goggles that are blacked out except for two small holes to minimize distractions. [21]
Don't always study in the same location. Strangely, alternating the room where you study dramatically improves retention. So does studying different but related skills or concepts in one time chunk, rather than focusing only on a single subject. In a single 45-50 minute study block, you will retain more if you study two related subjects than if you focus on a single subject. [7]
MIT and Boston
Get out of bed early, exercise and don't hold a job. In one study, of all the variables considered, wake-up times had the largest affect on grade point averages, with later wake-up times being associated with lower average grades. Perhaps because student environments are typically quieter early in the morning and therefore better for studying? Other variables associated with 1st-year (college) students' higher grade point averages were strength training and study of spiritually oriented material. The number of paid or volunteer hours worked per week was also associated with lower average grades. [8]
Success in college requires long hours of solitary studying. If you feel socially isolated, take foreign language classes, even if you can test out. [9] Don't reject other activities because you want to focus solely on studying. Participation in college sporting activities has been found to help promote college student's mental health. [10] And extracurricular activities do matter to employers. Employers tend to hire people who are similar to themselves in terms of preferences. They may assume a lack of involvement is a sign of social deficiencies. So, strangely enough, membership in a professional engineering society is seen by some employers as padding the resume, while involvement with the tennis team or the ballroom dancing club is seen as evidence that a person is fun to be around and has strong social skills. [11]
Stanford University
Limit the time you spend surfing on the internet for fun or playing computer games by yourself. Non-heavy internet users have been found to have better relationships with their instructors, academic grades, and learning satisfaction than heavy users. Heavy users are more likely to be depressed, physically ill, lonely, and introverted. [12]
Write down as many notes as possible during class, even if notes are provided. Typing your notes during lectures may be slightly beneficial versus writing by hand. [22] If you have a question or need clarification during a lecture, make a note of it. Be sure to raise the question either during the lecture or afterwards.
Study your notes by neatly re-writing them as soon as possible after class in a quiet place free of distractions (preferably that evening, but never wait more than 24 hours).  As you re-write the notes, imagine that you are giving a lecture to a class and give a full, coherent explanation – from the big picture to the tiny details - of every topic covered by the notes. Let your imaginary class ask you tough questions about your lecture. If you can’t answer a question, bring it up at the next lecture.
Study your more difficult subjects first because you will have more energy.
You will typically want to read your reading assignments or textbook slowly for comprehension, although, if studying literature, you may want to read through it quickly the first time. Study by reading the text, then set the text down, close you eyes, [13] and recite all that you can remember either out loud or silently, or imagine you are giving a lecture on the material, and then read the text a second time to review.  Do this a few times until you are confident you completely understand the material, and repeat 24 hours later and then again within 24 hours of your test.
If you are using a textbook with end of chapter questions or problems, quiz yourself on the questions at the end of the chapter before reading the chapter. You won’t be able to answer many of them, but this isn't the goal. What this does is focus your attention on the critical concepts as you read. [14]
Soda Hall
For homework exercises or problem sets, do a rough draft and then copy the results neatly on another sheet to hand in. Keep the draft in case the copy submitted is lost by your instructor.
You will learn more from repeated self-testing than from repeated reviewing. Self-testing forces you to accept the fact that you didn't remember something, while just reviewing material can fool you into thinking "Yeah, I know all this stuff". [15]
  • For subjects which have essay tests, make up some plausible essay questions, or get copies of old exams that have essay questions on them and write sample essays.
  • For subjects that have problem solving or proof tests, put together a collection of exercises or questions that might be asked on an exam.
  • Solve/write these individually and then review your answers/essays in a study group of no more than 4 or 5 similarly motivated people for 2 hours per week. [16] If a study group is out of the question, many classes have on-line bulletin boards where you can post and view others answers.
Review the material you are attempting to commit to memory just before you go to sleep and test yourself on it the following day. There is compelling evidence that the long-term storage of memories primarily occurs while we are asleep, but only if we expect to need the memory. The mere expectancy that a memory will be needed in a future test determines whether sleep significantly helps retain this memory and it produces a strong improvement in retrieval. [17]
Treat every test, quiz and homework assignment as if it was terribly important. Students who felt an exam was useful and important put in more effort and consequently scored higher than students who thought otherwise. [18] Self-talk such as "This quiz is stupid" will predictably lower your scores.
You are ready for a test when you have over-learned the material roughly 24 hours before the test. Crammed knowledge will dissipate over time, however. [19] To retain the knowledge longer term, for qualifying or professional exams or foreign language study for example, you will need to continue to self-test yourself on the material periodically. You may find a memorization scheduling software application helpful. Supermemo has low cost or free versions available for PC users. Genius is available for Mac users.
Other tips:
  • Clues from your professor on what might be on a test can sometimes save you days of studying, especially for final exams, so don’t be shy about asking if such-and-such will be on the test.
  • Don’t hide academic problems; ask for help quickly. If you don’t, you may spiral downward very quickly.
  • Don't compete with other students for grades if you find it stressful, just focus on learning the material.
  • Take a bottle of water with you when you take your exams. Students who brought water into exams were found to have higher test scores, possibly because they were keeping hydrated.
Related external links
[1] P. Babcock, M. Marks, Leisure College, USA: The Decline in Student Study Time,  American Enterprise Institute, No. 7, August 2010
[2] Healy GN, Dunstan DW, Salmon J, Cerin E, Shaw JE, Zimmet PZ, Owen N., Breaks in sedentary time: beneficial associations with metabolic risk, Diabetes Care. 2008 Apr;31(4):661-6. Epub 2008 Feb 5.
[3] T. Warren, B. Vaughn, S. Hooker, X. Sui, T. Church, S. Blair, Sedentary Behaviors Increase Risk of Cardiovascular Disease Mortality in Men, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: May 2010, Volume 42, Issue 5, pp 879-885
[4] D. Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011, pp 42-44
also see:
J. M. Murphy, Relationship Between Hunger and Psychosocial Functioning in Low-Income American Children, Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
Volume 37, Issue 2, Pages 163-170, February 1998
[5] D. Rohrer, H. Pashler, Increasing Retention Without Increasing Study Time, Current Directions in Psychological Science, Volume 16 Number 4, 2007 [pdf]
[6] Krýsa I., The effect of noise on learning and retention, Act Nerv Super (Praha). 1983 Dec;25(4):299-303.
[7] B. Carey, Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits, The New York Times, Sept. 6, 2010
[8] M. Trockel, M. Barnes & D. Egget, Health-Related Variables and Academic Performance Among First-Year College Students: Implications for Sleep and Other Behaviors, Journal of American College Health, Volume 49, Issue 3, 2000
[9] K. Zernike, Books: The Harvard Guide to Happiness, The New York Times Archive, April 8, 2001
[10] F. Wang & Y. Laing, PE's Role in Promoting College Students' Mental Health, Advances in Intelligent and Soft Computing, 2012, Volume 117/2012, 729-734
[11.1] B. Caplan, How Elite Firms Hire: The Inside Story, Library of Economics and Liberty, Nov. 18, 2011
[11.2] L. Rivera, Hiring as Cultural Matching:The Case of Elite Professional Service Firms [pdf]
[13] A. Vredeveldt, G. Hitch, A. Baddeley, Eyeclosure helps memory by reducing cognitive load and enhancing visualisation, Memory & Cognition, 2011 Oct; 39(7):1253-63.
[14] H. Roediger & B. Finn, Getting It Wrong: Surprising Tips on How to Learn, Scientific American, October 20, 2009
[15] P. Belluck, To Really Learn, Quit Studying and Take a Test, The New York Times, Jan. 20, 2011
[16] M. Boehler, et al, An evaluation of study habits of third-year medical students in a surgical clerkship, The American Journal of Surgery, 181 (2001) 268–271 [pdf]
[17] I. Wilhelm, Sleep Selectively Enhances Memory Expected to Be of Future Relevance, The Journal of Neuroscience, 2 February 2011, 31(5): 1563-1569
[18] J. Colea, D. Bergin, T. Whittaker, Predicting student achievement for low stakes tests with effort and task value, Contemporary Educational Psychology, Volume 33, Issue 4, October 2008, Pages 609-624
[19] J. Driskell, et al, The Effect of Overlearning on Retention, Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 77, No. 5, 1992 [pdf]
[22] I. Schoen, Effects of Method and Context of Note-taking on Memory: Handwriting versus Typing in Lecture and Textbook-Reading Contexts, 2012. Pitzer Senior Theses. Paper 20.