Quickie: Use Different Alarm Sounds to Avoid Missing Important Events

Getting up in the morning is hard, especially if you make an effort to get up early every day. It’s so tempting to just disable the alarm and go back to sleep. On most days, the worst that can happen is you miss your bus, a class, or a meeting with friends. On other days, for example if you have a midterm, presentation, or interview, going back to bed can have disastrous results. Being somewhat paranoid about oversleeping, I developed a simple brain hack…

A few years ago, I set the intro to my favourite song as my ringtone. It was unique, so I never confused my phone anyone else’s. Unfortunately overtime, I developed an almost Pavlovian response to that song. If I have my iPod on shuffle and the song comes on, I will automatically reach for my phone. Even when I realize it’s my music player, I still double check my phone anyway. *Doh.*

While this… conditioning is ruining my enjoyment of that particular song, associating a stimulus with an idea is a powerful time management (or just “get out of bed”) tool. How?

1. Pick a song or sound that is unique.

2. Mentally categorize it as your “really important” alarm. Don’t use this as your regular alarm!

3. Every time you have to get up for something important, set that sound or song as the alarm. Do not use the alarm for anything else!

4. Make an effort to bounce out of bed every time you hear that sound. Work towards associating that sound with “really important”.

Overtime, you’ll realize you automatically roll out of bed when you hear that sound without thinking. And if you’re tempted to go back to sleep, the song is ingrained enough to give you pause. Those few extra seconds may remind you of WHY you need to be up early (or on time?).

Give it a try and hopefully you’ll miss fewer exams and important early morning events.

What to bring to an exam

Exam Hall

Image "Exam Hall" courtesy of Flickr user non-partizan (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

 

It was my last exam. Another 2.5 hours and I would be free. FREE. The exam was multiple choice with a Scantron sheet. Sitting down at my desk, I whipped out my Ziplock bag pencil case, rifled through it, and had an “oh crap!” moment. I had forgotten to bring a pencil. *head desk* much? Luckily, someone sitting near me loaned me a pencil and it all worked out. However, this situation was especially ironic because I had written extensively about bringing the necessary tools to each exam! As well, I almost didn’t get in to this course because I wasn’t paying attention to the prereqs. Doh!

Although this situation was resolved in under a minute, it threw off my “game”. Although I didn’t feel like I did any worse because of the situation, not having to deal with it would have been beneficial. Thus, to avoid this particular head desk moment in the future, I made a master checklist of things I should bring to every exam. You might also find it helpful!

Must Have:

  • Pens (2) – an extra one just in case someone else needs it!
  • Pencil (2) – an extra one just in case someone else needs it!
  • Eraser
  • White out
  • Coloured pen (to highlight answers in situations with lots of writing or to annotate graphs)
  • Student ID
  •  Water or other types of beverage
  • Quiet Snack – granola or candy bars probably work the best

Also Include:

  • Tissues – someone, maybe you, will be sick
  • Few pieces of paper – can be used for many things, one of which is to prop up the short leg on a (often) shaky table!
  • Backup ID
  • Watch*
  • Ear Plugs*
  • Calculator*
  • Cheat Sheet*
  • Model kit*

* = may not always be allowed.

I recommend customizing this list for every exam before exam season and keep the lists somewhere noticeable. That way, you could simply double check to make sure you have everything before leaving for each exam.

As well, carry your material in a clear plastic reseal-able bag (like a Ziplock bag). These bags are great because they make finding stuff easier. As well, I’ve never had to put away my “pencil case” because its see-through. If you have too much stuff, use two bags. The things on the “Also include list” can go in a separate bag in your backpack for when you need it.

Bringing everything may seem like overkill, but it’s better to be over than under prepared! Good luck on your exams!