• Ian Gibbs

Student Tip 23: What Did You Do Today?


One of the most annoying questions you get asked when you get home from school is “What did you do today?”


Answering this question requires a lot of complicated memory retrieval, the shuffling around of ideas and thought vocalisation.


Let’s be honest, when you get home, what you need is a bit of chill-out time, not third-degree interrogation.


So let’s change the subject for a moment.


We earlier looked at how learning stuff little by little is much better than trying to cram it in all in one go.


So here to end this set of blogs on learning tips for students is one little-by-little tip to do at the end of each day that will help a lot.


Once you’re in bed with the light off about to go to sleep, ask yourself this question: What did I learn today?


Think back to each class you had. What did you do in each lesson?


Can you remember?


What was the point of each lesson?


What were the nuggets of knowledge from each one? What flashcard(s) did you make?


What was the homework?


What did you do to learn stuff better?


There are a few reasons why you might like to get into the habit of doing this each night.


1: Summarising your memories of the day’s studies helps you understand. It’s like explaining your thoughts to someone else, only in this case the ‘someone else’ is you.


2: Having these thoughts just before you go to sleep helps you transfer them to your long-term memory. In other words, it helps you remember them for longer. When you wake up, your subconscious mind will have been processing those thoughts, storing them in a way that’s easier to retrieve them. This means when you want to remember them, they’ll be easier to find.


And if that’s not enough, thinking about what you’ve learnt today is a great way to make yourself fall asleep.


Getting enough sleep is very important for learning stuff better. If you’re not getting enough sleep, your thoughts become ‘fuzzy’ and your ability to remember stuff plummets.


The best way to learn is little by little, by doing something, anything, every day. And every day includes today.


So when you turn off the light tonight, ask yourself ‘What did I do today?’.


If the answer is ‘not much’, then you’re not doing yourself any favours.


Going over at least one nugget of knowledge might seem trivial, but over the days, weeks, months, the nuggets will build up into something truly impressive.

Two and a half thousand years ago, a little old Chinese fellow called Confucius said, “If you want to move a mountain, you have to begin by carrying away small stones”.


The mountain you’re moving is all the stuff out there you need to put inside your head.


By doing it one nugget at a time every day, slowly but surely those nuggets will start to stick together to form your own little mountain of knowledge that will continue to get bigger and bigger.


While everyone else drifts off to sleep thinking about almost anything else apart from what they’ve been studying, you’ll be consolidating your day’s studying, helping yourself to understand it better and remember it for longer.


This means that come next class, you’ll have a stronger foundation of understanding, so the next lot of nuggets will have something solid to rest on.


It also means that when it comes round to exam time, you’ll have a much, much easier time of things because you’ll have already been doing your own mini bedtime revision all year.


So preparing for exams won’t cause you half as much stress as it’s causing everyone else.


You’ll be able to confidently finish the year knowing you’ve already learnt your stuff to the best you can.


Tip 23: Just before you go to sleep, ask yourself ‘What did I learn today?’


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