Nate Desmond

  • How to Create the Perfect Study Room



    Most college students spend at least six hours a day studying. Surprisingly, this statistic holds true for great students just as it does for average students. The real difference in a student’s performance doesn’t come in how much time is spent studying (although that definitely separates average students from poor ones). No, what sets extraordinary students apart is how they optimize their study hours.

    While speed reading or memory tricks are what you might think of when I say “optimizing your study hours,” what you may overlook is how your study room affects the quality of your study time.

    If you want to instantly revamp your study hours, try these 4 tips for perfecting this overlooked aspect of your routine.

    1. Keep It Simple

    As with most areas of life, complexity is the enemy of success. Determine what you actually need for studying and remove all distractions. While it may seem tempting to get a desk with lots of shelves, cabinets, and organizers, you will probably concentrate better with a simple, table-like desk. Although you might want to cover your walls in posters and artwork, a few tasteful pieces on an otherwise empty wall is easier on your brain.

    A minimally furnished area gives your mind room to think and focus. Don’t fill it with decorations or furniture you will never need.

    2. Make It Ergonomic

    Minimalism is great, but comfort is also crucial. Since you’ll be using this area for six hours a day, invest the time to optimize your setup for comfort. Not only will this make concentrating easier, but it will also help you avoid potential health risks.

    Optimize your desk height, monitor distance, and other factors for optimal health and productivity.

    3. Dedicate the Place (or Time)

    If possible, dedicate your study space to just one thing: studying. Don’t use the study area to relax, sleep, or do anything else that might distract you. If you always use that space to focus on school, it will be easier to avoid the temptation to procrastinate at study time.

    If space constraints make it impossible to dedicate your area completely to study, set a rigid study schedule for yourself instead. For instance, use your desk between 9:00 AM and 3:00 PM only for college work.

    If you are tempted to visit Facebook or check your email during study sessions, use a computer program like RescueTime or MinutesPlease.com to monitor and limit your browsing time. Making a habit of clear study boundaries will instantly improve the effectiveness of your study time.

    4. Personalize Your Room

    Just as maintaining a clean, minimalistic study area is crucial to study success, a certain amount of personalization can also help you concentrate. Simplicity is good, but you should also enjoy being there.

    Depending on your interests, this might mean adding a few good books to your space, a finding a great desktop background, or even adding a mounted ram’s head (as Theodore Roosevelt displayed in his study). Find a few simple ways to make your study room yours and your focus is guaranteed to benefit.

    If you enjoyed this post, check out 13 Ways to Study at Home Without Going Crazy.

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  • The Theodore Roosevelt Guide To Productivity



    One of the most productive leaders of the last century, Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt has achieved almost mythical status for his various careers as a rancher, a soldier, and a politician—not to mention his achievements as a hunter and naturalist.

    Due to severe asthma during his childhood, Roosevelt was homeschooled through high school. Despite his physical setbacks, however, Teddy studied hard and eventually attended Harvard University. During this time, he displayed particular ability as a historian, publishing his first book just two years after finishing college.

    Following a short stint as a New York Assemblyman, he moved to the Dakotas where he operated a cattle ranch until 1886. Returning east, the future president took a position as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. When the Spanish-American War broke out, however, he immediately resigned to lead a volunteer cavalry unit known as the Rough Riders.

    Returning after the war, Theodore Roosevelt moved from Governor of New York to Vice President of the United States and, ultimately, to the Oval Office. As President, Roosevelt was responsible for the creation of the Panama Canal, the Great White Fleet, and the peaceful end of the Russo-Japanese War. After completing his second term, he declined to run again, instead setting out on a hunting safari in Africa and a tour of Europe. Following a nearly successful attempt to reenter politics, Roosevelt died at the age of 60 due to complications of malaria (which he had contracted while exploring South America).

    So why did I tell you all of that? No, it’s not so I can quiz you on the life of a long-dead president. In my studies of Roosevelt’s life, I noticed more than just what he did, but how he did them. Afterall, he was responsible for more world-changing projects than most of us are on track to complete.

    I think, by applying Roosevelt’s particular techniques for maximum productivity, even you and I can create a better, more productive life.

    # 1 Focus on the Present

    While Roosevelt pursued a number of vastly different careers, his consistent success was due largely to his ability to focus on the present. He ranched, he fought, and he politicked, but he only did one at a time.

    By following this method of “serial excellence,” we too can accomplish great things in a variety of fields. While it is often tempting to do everything at once, you will be much more productive when you focus on one goal at a time.

    # 2 Never Stop Learning

    After graduating from Harvard University, many people would be tempted to rest on their laurels and be done with their education. Theodore Roosevelt, one the other hand, made learning a life habit. While enforcing the law on the windswept prairies of the Dakota Badlands, Sheriff Roosevelt carried a book to fill his spare moments. Even in the White House, President Roosevelt purportedly read an average of five books a week.

    Rather than treating our education as a task to be completed, we should view it as a lifestyle to be followed. Completing college is a major accomplishment, but it is still but a milestone on the path to greater learning.

    # 3 Take Risks

    In retrospect, Roosevelt’s life looks like one big adventure, but we often overlook the risks he took. For instance, we all remember how his escapades with the Rough Riders propelled him to national fame, but do we remember the risk he took by resigning his promising position as Assistant Secretary of the Navy in exchange for a volunteer position fighting in the war he supported?

    As you move through life, don’t let the lure of short-term security turn you from the long-term goal of greater success.

    # 4 Don’t Sacrifice too Much

    Unfortunately, no man is perfect, and Roosevelt is no exception. For all the encouragement we can draw from his life, he also provides one crucial lesson of warning. Like many great men, Theodore Roosevelt’s career success came at the expense of his family’s well-being. After his wife died, Roosevelt left his newborn daughter with relatives while running his cattle ranch. Later, while President, he jokingly admitted to a friend, “I can either run the country or I can attend to Alice, but I cannot possibly do both.”

    Let us learn from this unfortunate example and remember to keep our priorities correct. Whether we are tempted to value career over family or simply to forgo a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Spain in order to study, we must never forget to live for more than our accomplishments.

    If you enjoyed this post, you may also like “5 Big Lessons I Learned from America’s Smallest President.”

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  • 5 Best Business Books Every College Student Should Read



    From author to farmer to marketer, every career path requires an understanding of basic business principles. Of course, while gaining practical hands-on experience is probably the best way to gain this much-needed knowledge, not everyone has the time (or opportunity) for an internship.

    Fortunately, books are the next best thing.

    After reading over 100 business books in the last few years, I’ll help kickstart your study of this crucial topic with 5 of the best business books your library card can borrow.

    I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.


    Jason Fried and David Hansson

    This is my personal favorite. While many business books offer the details needed to register a trademark or design a website, Rework stands out by looking at the big picture. Using short, engaging chapters, this book provides crucial advice such as “meetings are toxic” and “planning is guessing.” Although much of this advice in Rework can feel like common sense, you will find yourself returning frequently to review these seemingly obvious ideas.

    Zingerman’s Guide To Giving Great Service

    Ari Weinzweig

    When it comes to customer service, a small deli in Michigan consistently tops the charts. In this fascinating book, one of the co-founders of the Zingerman’s Deli shares his secrets to providing outstanding customer service. Based on their experience serving 500,000 customers a year, Weinzweig explains the practical steps from how to train your staff to how to measure their success. I challenge anyone to read this book without getting excited about customer service!

    Don’t Send a Resume

    Jeffery Fox

    One of my favorite business authors, Jeffery Fox has written a dozens of books. But this one particularly stands out in light of our current national unemployment problem. Whether you’re job hunting or hiring, this book deserves a place on your shelf. In Don’t Send a Resume, Mr. Fox explains many ingenious, yet simple methods to landing your dream job. For instance, rather than talking about yourself and your goals during an interview, ask questions and show how you can solve the company’s problems. This book is both a primer for out-of-the-box thinking and a manual for successful job hunting.


    Noah Goldstein, Steven Martin, Robert Cialdini

    Quite possibly the most enjoyable research paper you’ll ever read, this short volume introduces you to 50 ways to be persuasive. Unlike many books of its kind, the claims in Yes are actually proven with scientific studies. As you thumb through its pages, you’ll learn why people who move to Florida are more likely to be named Florence, why using the word “because” could improve your results by as much as 34%, and why being the smartest person in the room can actually hurt your productivity.

    The Way To Wealth

    Benjamin Franklin

    The first personal finance book published in America, this 30-page gem is worth its weight in gold. Using Franklin’s signature quotes, this book was originally published as the preface to the 1758 edition of Poor Richard’s Almanack, but it provides great insight today as well. From the classics (“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise”) to the currently crucial (“Think what you do when you run into debt; you give another power over your liberty”) this book is well worth the hour of reading time.

    Want to further kickstart your future in business? Why not pursue your bachelor’s degree online with a study program that gives you time to earn hands-on experience? Click here to learn more about Accelerated Pathways.


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