How to decrease time spent studying and remember more

How to decrease time spent studying and remember more

Full-time students — Students in Danish higher education have more hours in class and spend more time preparing than just a few years ago. The Minister for Higher Education is pleased with this development.

The Eurostudent study

  • International study comparing students in 28 countries across Europe.
  • Around 9.000 Danish students answered the survey Eurostudent VI.
  • Danish students’ time spent studying has gone up from 32,0 hours to 37,6 hours a week from 2013 to 2016.
  • Within Bachelor and Master levels the increase is 5,4 and 4,2 hours per week, respectively.

37,6 hours. That is how much time students in Danish higher education are spending on average studying every week, according to 2016’s international Eurostudent study comparing info on students across Europe.

The time spent studying has gone up by five hours since 2013, where students at Danish universities, university colleges and business academies spent 32 hours a week on their studies. Minister for Higher Education and Science Søren Pind is pleased with this development.

»We need hard-working, competent students who can carry us well in to the future. We should have high expectations and demands for Danish students. It is okay that pursuing a degree is a challenging task and that is why I am pleased with this development. With that being said, the increase is primarily due to more scheduled hours of classes and less due to the students efforts outside the classrooms. I would like to see these go hand in hand in the future,« he says in a press release.

Four more hours in class

Søren Pind hints at the fact, that out of the total increase of five hours – four of them are spent in class. So students only spend one hour more preparing.

I think it’s more interesting, what the students do within that time

Student Council vice-president Marie Thomsen

But according to Student Council vice-president Marie Thomsen you cannot draw a straight line from total hours spent studying to the quality of that education.

»It’s just a quantitative goal that doesn’t necessarily say anything about the quality of education. I think it’s more interesting, what the students do within that time. It is more important to know how much of the time is spent on group work, classes or study groups, which can make people smarter the same way preparation can.«

According to the study, Bachelor’s students spend an average of 37,9 hours a week on their studies, while Master’s students spend 38,1 hours. See the full study here.

How to decrease time spent studying and remember more

Rote memorising, i.e. to remember by repeating as many times as possible, is out.

Putting facts to memory by brute force will not make you gain the most important result from studying, which is, comprehension.

And to be honest, it will be pretty damn boring.

Studying should be fun – all about thoughtful exploration and discovering new things. Rote memorising does not have any of that, simply paving a path of instant recall without any context to the information – the hows and whys are important!

So how do we prevent those facts from falling into a black hole once we enter the exam hall? Wei Li from iPrice has come up with six powerful ways to help you study better:

1. Spaced repetition

Review material over and over again over incremental time intervals;

According to 19th-century psychologist, Hermann Ebbinghaus, instant recall has a 100 percent information retention. But as little as an hour later, you can only recall a mere 44 percent of what you have read.

To counter this, use spaced repetition. Review your materials intermittently to slow down the deterioration of your memory as time passes.

This means making notes right after lecture ends, write down any questions you have and asking your lecturer ASAP. Just before exams, make flashcards and review them every few days, instead of the last 24 hours!

2. Active reiteration

To really embed the facts you are reading into your mind, teach them to someone else.

By teaching, you are forced to summarise, condense, investigate, draw conclusions – promoting a deeper personal understanding. This is great for university study which focuses on analysis, as compared to pre-university, which are usually more fact-driven.

Use the Feynman Technique i.e. explain concepts in the simplest terms possible to anyone who would listen, a fellow classmate, roommate or to empty beer cans.

3. Directed note-taking

Go in for the kill – ask yourself what you don’t understand about a certain topic. Really get to the root of the problem and dig your way out of it.

First, spot the problem areas. Second, design a question which addresses this area. Third, answer your question. Use all your lecture notes, library books, and even Google Search. Don’t move on until you are confident with your answer and rest assured, you will understand the concepts better by going through this route.

Don’t move on until you are confident with your answer and rest assured, you will understand the concepts better by going through this route.

4. Reading on paper

94% of university students polled said they preferred studying using paper as it was easier to focus and the freedom to highlight, annotate and write on the margins. And unlike computer screens, reading on paper also helps with spatial memory – you can recall a certain bit of information by where it was placed on a book.

On top of these, paper removes one of the top factors for students losing focus: distraction. Without the Internet, there won’t be an infinite number of websites tempting our eyes away from much-needed study time and breaking our focus, which is crucial to retaining memory.

5. Sleep and exercise

Our brain absorbs information best right before sleep or right after exercise.

Research have shown that those who study before sleeping or napping have higher memory recall or higher activity in the hippocampus, the part of the brain which forms new memories.

Exercise has have been found to stimulate the production of a protein called BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor), which preps the brain for optimum learning and creative thinking. You are likelier to form creative connections between ideas, and thus, retaining this better.

So, time your sleep and work out accordingly to maximise your study sessions.

6. Use the Italian tomato clock

If you have to cram, do it smartly. Set 25-30 minute chunks of intense study and rest for five minutes after.

Modelled after the Pomodoro Technique which uses the Italian Tomato Clock, this method will minimise distraction and boost productivity.

After all, our ability to retain information tapers after 30 minutes anyway. So, take a well-deserved rest after half an hour with some healthy snacks or light stretching which will do much more for your memory than forcing your brain to study more.

College may be hard and comes with a never-ending list of reading materials. But if you know how the brain works, and take on some of the methods proposed above, you can make that study time more fruitful. Good luck!

How to decrease time spent studying and remember more

As a college parent, you probably have very little influence over the amount of time your college student spends studying. That is appropriate, as you begin to allow your student to gain independence and control over his choices and decisions. However, you might help your student understand the importance of investing enough time in his work in order to do well. As a parent, you may be able to help your student think through the realities of how he spends his time. Then, of course, it will be your job to step back and let him find his way.

The college experience is about more than just coursework. College is a time to meet new people, experience new things, and work at gaining independence. But college is also about classes, exams, studying, working with professors, and, hopefully, gaining a wealth of useful knowledge and new ways of thinking. In order for students to succeed, they need to put in the time. Unfortunately, many students either do not understand the amount of time necessary to do well in college, or they do not prioritize the amount of time they need to spend studying.

What is expected?

The general rule of thumb regarding college studying is, and has been for a long time, that for each class, students should spend approximately 2-3 hours of study time for each hour that they spend in class. Many students carry a course load of 15 credits, or approximately 15 hours of class time each week. Doing some simple math indicates that your student should be spending roughly 30 hours of study time and 15 hours in class. This 45 hours is the equivalent of a full time job – the reason that your student is called a full time student. For many students, this number is a surprise.

For students who were able to get by in high school with very little study time, this is more of a shock than a surprise. Many students spent little more than 4-5 hours per week studying in high school. (Yes, there are students who spent significantly more than this studying in high school, but they are not the majority.) One study has suggested that many students in college study an average of 10-13 hours per week. This is the equivalent of less than 2 hours per day. Only approximately 11% of students spent more than 25 hours per week studying. Clearly there is a significant gap between the reality (10-13 hours) and the ideal (30+ hours).

Students come to college expecting it to be harder than high school, and expecting to spend more time studying. However, they may not realize the degree of difference with which they will be confronted. These students want to do well; they simply do not yet understand what is required from them to do well.

Additional issues

There are some additional factors that may affect the amount of time students spend studying.

  • Expectations – Some researchers have suggested that there may be a correlation between the amount of time a student expects to study when she comes to college and the actual amount of time that student spends. Students who come to college with lower expectations about required time may spend less time.
  • Attitude – Some students may not only have an unreasonable sense of the amount of time required, but they may feel that once they have spent what they consider a reasonable amount of time studying they “deserve” a good grade. These students equate amount of effort with good grades. (“I deserve an A because I worked really hard on this paper.”) Students who couple unrealistic expectations with a grade entitlement attitude are going to be disappointed, unhappy, and angry.
  • Social media – One small study has suggested that those students who spent significant amount of time on Facebook spent less time studying. This study suggests that these students spent an average of 1-5 hours per week studying rather than the 11-15 hours per week that the non-Facebook users spent. This should not suggest that college students should not use Facebook or other social media. This is a way of life for many students. It does suggest, however, that students need to be aware of how they spend their time and that they need to be cautious. Certainly, much more research will be done in this area.
  • Alcohol – Another interesting study was conducted in 2008 by NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. This study surveyed 30,183 students who took the on-line alcohol education course. This study suggested that first year students who used alcohol spent approximately 10.2 hours per week drinking and 8.4 hours per week studying. Again, this study should be kept in perspective, but it does remind us of what is obvious: students who spend significant amount of time in college drinking spend less time studying.

Most of these factors are not surprises. Obviously, students who spend significant amounts of their time doing other things – whether that is spending time on-line, drinking, working, or simply socializing – spend less time studying. What is important, however, is that students may not realize how much time they should be studying and they may not realize how much time they are actually studying.

Parents may need to help their students think about expectations and habits. It might help a student to think about the 168 hours in a week and keep a log of how he actually spends his time. It might help a student to rethink her college education as a full-time job, requiring the approximately 40 hours per week that a full time job would. It may help a student to plan a realistic study schedule to manage study time more efficiently.

Once you help your student consider his study time management, however, it is important that you, as a college parent, let your student take the lead at actually putting a plan into action. Your student will need to make her own choices and decisions. Hopefully, she will use her time wisely, and if not, she will learn important lessons from her choices.

  • School and College News
  • Alumni
  • Arts
  • Athletics
  • Community Impact
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Health & Wellness
  • Research
  • UConn Health
  • UConn Life
  • University News

July 23, 2015 | Colin Poitras – UConn Communications

A UConn researcher says multitasking hurts college students more than they think.

How to decrease time spent studying and remember more

Distracted student. (iStock Photo)

Scan a college classroom these days and you are just as likely to see students texting and surfing the Web as taking notes.

Many students feel there is nothing wrong with sending out a few quick texts or jumping on Facebook during class, and many are proud of their self-perceived ability to keep abreast of classroom discussion while their attention is divided.

But a new study by researchers at the University of Connecticut shows multitasking is hurting college students more than they think.

In a survey that probed the multitasking habits of more than 350 college students, UConn researchers found that students who multitasked while doing homework had to study longer, and those who frequently multitasked in class had lower grades on average than their peers who multitasked less often.

While prior studies have reported that classroom multitasking can hurt students’ grades, the UConn study is believed to be the first to take into account whether students’ prowess at multitasking and additional time spent studying offset the tendency for poorer academic performance. It did not.

“While texting and learning to use media are important for socialization and the use of technology is an important skill, our data shows that students are paying a price for this behavior,” says Saraswathi Bellur, an assistant professor in UConn’s Department of Communication and one of the study’s principal investigators.

Texting was far and away the most frequent multitasking distraction, followed by logging on to Facebook, checking email, and surfing the Web.

While taking longer to complete homework due to a lack of focus may be an inconvenience and a sign of bad study habits, missing classroom discussion due to multitasking is particularly troublesome.

Students are paying a price for this behavior. — Saraswathi Bellur

Studies have shown that people are most successful at processing information from short-term memory to long-term memory when they are paying strict attention to the task at hand.

Students checking out of a lecture briefly to read or send texts must divert their attention and may not be aware that they are missing critical information from their instructor. By the time they refocus on what’s happening in class, the opportunity to capture important details may have passed.

“Humans have limitations on their cognitive capacity,” Bellur says. “Our resources are limited. So the moment we pay attention to one thing, it makes it that much harder for us to process something else.”

Bellur cautions that the study is based on students self-reporting their multitasking habits, and further research is needed. The conclusions only identify a significant correlation between multitasking and academic performance, even after controlling for multitasking efficacy and time spent studying outside of class. The cause for such a correlation still isn’t clear.

“This is very much a first step,” says Bellur. “We really don’t know in what direction this is heading. Is it that students who multitask in class have lower grade point averages, or is it that students with lower grade point averages are more prone to multitask in class?”

The survey asked students to describe how often they multitasked in class and while doing homework, offering a range of options from “Never” to “Very frequently.” Students were also asked to self-report their grade point average, how much time they spent preparing for class, and how good they thought they were at multitasking. Their answers were then scaled and analyzed.

An abundance of technology in the classroom, including smartphones that keep students constantly connected to the Internet, has been a growing concern for parents and educators who worry about its impact on learning.

According to one recent study, nearly 40 percent of students surveyed reported they were unable to go more than 10 minutes without checking their phones or some other device. In 2010, a Pew study found that nearly 64 percent of students admitted to regularly texting during class. Close to three-fourths of college students acknowledged they engage with some form of technology while studying.

Those kinds of numbers worry professors like Bellur.

“This technology is integrated into college life,” Bellur says. “The question now becomes how can we encourage students to use technology in such a way that it assists with their learning but doesn’t become a constant distraction?”

Some teachers set classroom rules about the use of laptops and smartphones in class. Instructing college students about the pitfalls of multitasking as part of their freshmen orientation has also been considered. Helping students become more mindful of their classroom behavior is another option.

“A lot of this just comes down to mindfulness,” Bellur says. “People often put their phones away when they are meeting with friends or having dinner. Those are mindful, conscious decisions. It would be nice if students brought that same kind of mindfulness to class.”

Joining Bellur on the study were associate professor of communication Kristine Nowak, and Kyle Hull, a Ph.D. graduate in communication now serving as an instructor at Aquinas College.

The study, which was recognized as one of the top papers at the National Communication Association Conference in Chicago last year, is reported this month online in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.

Finally, social scientists suggest a precise time for mid-afternoon coffee runs.

How to decrease time spent studying and remember more

Sometimes, productivity science seems like an organized conspiracy to justify laziness.

Clicking through photos of cute small animals at work? That’s not silly procrastination, Hiroshima University researchers said. Looking at adorable pictures of kittens rolling helplessly in balls of yarn heightens our focus, and the “tenderness elicited by cute images” improves our motor function on the computer.

Going on long vacations? You’re not running away from your responsibilities. Studies show that long breaks from the office reboot your cognitive energy to solve big problems with the mental dexterity they deserve.

Working from home? Shut down your boss’s rude accusations that you’re too slothful to put on a pair of pants in the morning by handing him this 2013 study of Chinese call-center employees, which found that “tele-commuting” improved company performance. (Actually, don’t hand it to him. That would require going into the office.)

The scientific observation underlying these nearly-too-good-to-be-true findings is that the brain is a muscle that, like every muscle, tires from repeated stress. Many of us have a cultural image of industriousness that includes first-in-last-out workers, all-nighters, and marathon work sessions. Indeed, there are many perfectly productive people that go to the office early, leave late, and never seem to stop working. But the truth about productivity for the rest of us is that more hours doesn’t mean better work. Rather, like a runner starting to flag after a few miles, our ability to perform tasks has diminishing returns over time. We need breaks strategically served between our work sessions.

Recommended Reading

Only Your Boss Can Cure Your Burnout

The Difference Between First-Degree Racism and Third-Degree Racism

I Got Fired Over Zoom

Recommended Reading

Only Your Boss Can Cure Your Burnout

The Difference Between First-Degree Racism and Third-Degree Racism

I Got Fired Over Zoom

So what’s the perfect length for a break? Seventeen minutes, according to an experiment released this week.

DeskTime, a productivity app that tracks employees’ computer use, peeked into its data to study the behavior of its most productive workers. The highest-performing 10 percent tended to work for 52 consecutive minutes followed by a 17-minute break. Those 17 minutes were often spent away from the computer, said Julia Gifford at The Muse, by talking a walk, doing exercises, or talking to coworkers.

Telling people to focus for 52 consecutive minutes and then to immediately abandon their desks for exactly 1,020 seconds might strike you as goofy advice. But this isn’t the first observational study to show that short breaks correlate with higher productivity. In 1999, Cornell University’s Ergonomics Research Laboratory used a computer program to remind workers to take short breaks. The project concluded that “workers receiving the alerts [reminding them to stop working] were 13 percent more accurate on average in their work than coworkers who were not reminded.”

It seems unlikely that there is one number representing the ideal amount of time for every employee in every industry to break from work. Rather than set your stop-watch for 17:00 when you get up from your desk, the more important reminder might be to get up, at all. Indeed, the most productive employees don’t necessarily work the longest hours. Instead, they take the smartest approach to managing their energy to solve tasks in efficient and creative ways.

Perhaps managing our office energy is a lost art. In the mid-1920s, an executive in Michigan studying the productivity of his factory workers realized that his employees’ efficiency was plummeting when they worked too many hours in a day or too many days in a week. He instituted new rules, including an eight-hour work day and a five-day work week. “We know from our experience in changing from six to five days and back again that we can get at least as great production in five days as we can in six,” he said. “Just as the eight hour day opened our way to prosperity, so the five day week will open our way to a still greater prosperity.”

That company turned out to be one of the most profitable companies of the mid-twentieth century, and the boss at its helm is remembered as one of the most talented executives in American history. His name was Henry Ford.

With its fourth-quarter earnings release, Facebook dropped some hints about time spent.

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) doesn’t usually say how much time its users spend in its apps. The last update it gave was nearly two years ago, when management said users spend 50 minutes per day across Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger.

But when Facebook released its fourth-quarter results at the end of January, CEO Mark Zuckerberg felt it was important to note how recent changes to its news feed product have impacted engagement. In the press release announcing earnings, Zuckerberg said changes resulted in a decrease in time spent of about 50 million hours per day. He later revealed that the decrease equated to about a 5% decline.

Using some simple math, that implies users still spend about 950 million hours on Facebook each day. With 2.13 billion monthly users and 1.4 billion daily users, that means the average monthly user spends 27 minutes per day in the app, and if you go by daily users, they spend about 41 minutes per day on Facebook.

How to decrease time spent studying and remember more

Image source: Facebook.

That’s a lot of time!

To put Facebook’s engagement levels in perspective, it might help to compare it to Snapchat. Snap (NYSE:SNAP) boasts about how engaged its users are, with those under 25 spending over 40 minutes per day. Recently leaked data revealed that the average user spends about 35 minutes per day. Facebook tops that number by nearly 20% — and on a much larger scale.

Snapchat had just 178 million daily active users in the third quarter. Facebook had about 1.35 billion for the same period, and growing at a similar pace.

Average time spent on Facebook is comparable to Instagram, which posted last summer that its users under 25 spend 32 minutes per day in the app. Those over 25 spend just 24 minutes per day. (Instagram didn’t specify whether it was counting daily users or monthly users, but it’s likely the latter, per Facebook’s standard.)

Time spent doesn’t always equal money spent

Where Facebook really separates itself from the competition is in its ability to monetize the amount of time spent on its platform. Last quarter, Facebook generated over $6 in revenue per user. Instagram contributed to that number, but the vast majority of Facebook’s revenue still comes from Facebook.

By comparison, Snap generated $1.17 in revenue per user in the third quarter. That number probably climbed in the fourth quarter because of seasonality and the continued ramp-up of its ad products. Still, there’s a huge disparity between ad revenue per minute spent on Facebook versus Snapchat.

The root of that disparity is that much of the time spent on Snapchat is hard to monetize. A lot of time spent in the app is creating content and then sharing it through direct communication with friends. People don’t spend as much time consuming more easily monetized content like that found in Snapchat’s Discover section or Snap Maps.

While Facebook is taking steps that actively reduce the amount of time people spend in Facebook, management believes that not only is it the right thing for its community, but it could also result in more monetization opportunities.

Facebook is decreasing the number of viral videos and articles in the news feed — stuff it can’t easily monetize — and increasing the content that encourages users to interact within Facebook. That could increase the total number of posts users scroll through, since they’re spending as much time reading or viewing other content. That presents more advertising opportunities.

Snapchat is also undergoing a major redesign, but it’s not clear the changes will positively affect engagement on its most monetizable features.

Time spent on Facebook may be going down, but users still spend a huge chunk of their days in the app. The news feed changes make time spent on Facebook more valuable for the users and possibly for Facebook as well. So any worries about declining engagement should be alleviated by management’s commentary and the company’s fourth-quarter results.

Experts studying how tourism affects wild gibbons say visitors should wear PPE masks and have health checks before visiting them.

While tourism to wild gibbon populations halted with the first COVID-19 lockdowns, tour operators in Cambodia and China are gearing up to resume visits.

The recommendations build on world-first research on wild gibbon populations in Cambodia and China, which shows the apes significantly alter their behavior, to their own detriment when tourists are present.

Instead of resting and socializing, gibbons spent more time on the look-out for danger and displayed stress and anxiety behaviors when tourist groups followed them.

ANU researcher Jessica Williams said her studies showed gibbons were trading off their rest time to monitor an unfamiliar situation.

“Scanning the landscape is one way animals monitor their environment and detect danger. When tourists are present, we observed the gibbons spent more time scanning compared to when tourists were absent,” Ms Williams said.

“This increase in scanning was coupled with a decrease in time spent resting and rest is essential to maintaining normal brain function and immune responses. If the gibbons’ immune system is affected it can have negative side-effects. It can lead to shortening their life or making them more susceptible to catching diseases—and because we’re all primates, they may be able to catch something from us.”

Ms Williams said COVID-19 might be one of the diseases gibbons could be susceptible to.

“Due to a lack of research, we don’t know for sure if the small apes; gibbons and siamangs can catch diseases like COVID-19 from humans. But disease transmission from and to humans is well-documented in the great apes like gorillas and chimpanzees,” she said.

“Because gibbons being used for tourism could suffer reduced immunity in the face of large and frequently changing groups of people entering their environment, we can’t take any chances. Once a disease has been transmitted it spreads through the entire population.”

As well as temperature checks and wearing protective gear, Ms Williams’ guidelines recommend limiting visits to once a day, with total group numbers of eight and only when the gibbons are naturally active.

“Our research showed how tourism was affecting the gibbons before COVID-19 hit. Before it starts up again, we want tour operators to pause and re-set expectations for tourism and visitors by re-designing their programs based on this new research,” Ms Williams said.

“We’re not against ‘Nature Based Tourism.’ In fact, we know it can create jobs and revenue and has the potential to combat destructive practices like logging or poaching. We also know these programs were set to boom in Asia and so before things resume and expand, we want to make sure Nature Based Tourism programs are better designed to prioritize the welfare of the animals.”

Jessica Williams’ research was conducted on northern yellow-cheeked crested gibbons (Nomascus annamensis) at Veun Sai-Siem Pang National Park in Cambodia and Skywalker gibbons (Hoolock tianxing) at Mt Gaoligong National Nature Reserve, China and is published in Animal Biology.

Her guidelines to protect wild gibbons from tourism will be published in the forthcoming edition of the Journal of Sustainable Tourism.

In the United States we think about the typical work week as being 40 hours long, but Americans are actually working 47 hours a week on average. Worse than that, 4 out of every 10 Americans say they work more than 50 hours a week, and 2 out of 10 Americans say they work more than 60 hours a week.

Even if we only spend 40 hours a week in the office, mobile devices and employer provided laptops mean we’re often logging on to do more work once we arrive at home. When our phones buzz with the sound of a new email, it’s hard for us to resist checking our inbox and then shooting off a reply no matter what time it is.

According to the Harvard Business Review we often feel the need to respond to work related communications after hours due to ambition, pride and proving that we’re valuable to our companies.

Is all of this after-hours work really helping to improve the bottom line at our companies though? Does it make us more valuable to our employers, or does it simply make us more tired?

The research says it just makes us more tired.

Companies like KPMG, Basecamp and almost every organization in Sweden (including Toyota) are making moves to reduce employee work hours. Yes you read that right!

Why? Let’s dive into the reasons companies are telling employees to work less!

1. Working Too Much Leads to Health Issues

The biggest concern that comes along with working long hours is a decrease in physical health.

Marianna Virtanen, a researcher at the Finnish Institute of Occupational health, found that there are clear associations between being overworked and dealing with impaired sleep and depressive symptoms. Similar studies show a correlation between overworking and Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

When we’re overworked we’re more likely to sleep less, eat worse and skip exercise leading to a whole host of health issues. These issues directly and negatively affect employers because they lead to absenteeism (taking sick days), high turnover rate (quitting) and rising health insurance costs.

Essentially, in the long run employers get more out of their staff if they let them work 6 hours instead of 8 because they’ll then employees take less full days off due to feeling ill.

2. Working Longer Hours Doesn’t Result in Increased Efficiency

The Parkinson’s Law states that “work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” That means if you give yourself a 8 hours to complete a 2 hour task you’ll end up taking all 8 hours to finish the work.

Does filling 8 hours with 2 hours worth of work make employees more productive? Definitely not. It just means we’re being less efficient.

On the flip side, “If you are empowered to hunker down and work for six hours and then leave, and this is supported by your employer, inevitably you will maximize the time you have available so that you can leave and get on with different activities in your life.”

By having more time to spend doing activities outside of work that you enjoy, your quality of life improves and you’re more excited to do well at work because you’re happier and well rested. In fact, a study out of the University of Warwick confirmed that “happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity, while unhappy workers provided 10% less productive.”

Working less hours really does lead to more productivity!

3. Working to the Point of Exhaustion Leads to Errors

Research has shown that working when we’re overtired leads to errors. From a management and leadership perspective, working when we’re feeling exhausted leads to misreading physical cues such as facial expressions and body movements. It also leads to a mismanagement of our own emotional reactions, perhaps leading to unprofessional outbursts.

Beyond that, research shows that only 1-3% of the population can survive on five to six hours of sleep per night. Being tired also makes us much more prone to making errors. These errors can definitely impact the bottom line for our companies and also land us in hot water depending on how big the error is.

This concept of overwork leading to costly errors dates back to the 19th century. Factory owners learned to limit workdays to 8 hours so that they could reduce expensive mistakes and accidents that frequently occurred when employees were made to work 9, 10 or even more hours per day.

According to an article in Salon, “In 1914, emboldened by a dozen years of in-house research, Henry Ford famously took the radical step of doubling his workers’ pay, and cut shifts in Ford plants from nine hours to eight.”

Ford was initially bitterly criticized for this move, but over the next five years his competitors adopted the same model after seeing his production soar. It was at this time that many companies saw “if you wanted to keep your workers bright, healthy, productive, safe and efficient over a sustained stretch of time, you kept them to no more than 40 hours a week and eight hours a day.”

By reducing hours companies saw a decrease in worker disability, less damaged equipment, reduced lawsuits and happier shareholders.

A century later and all of the lessons from the 1914s seem to have been forgotten, but companies and employees would do well to learn from the past.

The Bottom Line

Employees become less efficient when they feel overworked. Stress and exhaustion lead to medical concerns, decreased efficiency and costly errors.

The secret to happy, productive and efficient employees? Less work hours!

How to decrease time spent studying and remember more

skynesher / Getty Images

What Is a Dependent Variable?

The dependent variable is the variable that is being measured or tested in an experiment. For example, in a study looking at how tutoring impacts test scores, the dependent variable would be the participants’ test scores, since that is what is being measured.

In a psychology experiment, researchers are looking at how changes in the independent variable cause changes in the dependent variable. Manipulating independent variables and measuring the effect on dependent variables allows researchers to draw conclusions about cause and effect relationships.

The dependent variable is dubbed dependent because it is thought to depend in some way on the variations of the independent variable.

How to Identify the Dependent Variable

Experiments can range from simple to quite complicated, so sometimes it can be a bit confusing to learn how to identify the independent and dependent variables.

Here are a few things you can do to help you remember which is which:

Which Variable Is the Experimenter Measuring?

If it is something that varies in response to changes in another variable, it is a dependent variable. In many psychology experiments and studies, the dependent variable is a measure of a certain aspect of a participant’s behavior.

In an experiment looking at how sleep impacts test performance, the dependent variable would test performance because it’s a measure of the participants’ behavior.

Which Variable Does the Experimenter Manipulate?

The independent variable is deemed independent because the experimenters are free to vary it as they need. This might mean changing the amount, duration, or type of independent variable that the participants in the study receive as a treatment or condition.

One way to help identify the dependent variable is to remember that it depends on the independent variable. When researchers make changes to the independent variable, they then measure any resulting changes to the dependent variable.

How to Choose Dependent Variables

How do researchers determine what a good dependent variable will be? There are a few key features that a scientist might consider:


Stability is often a good sign of a quality dependent variable. If the same experiment is repeated with the same participants, conditions, and experimental manipulations, the effects on the dependent variable should be very close to what they were the first time around.


A researcher might also choose dependent variables based on the complexity of their study. While some studies may only have one dependent variable and one independent variable, it is also possible to have several of each type of variable.

Researchers might want to learn how changes in a single independent variable affect several distinct dependent variables.

For example, imagine an experiment where a researcher wants to learn how the messiness of a room influences people’s creativity levels. However, the research might also want to see how the messiness of a room might influence a person’s mood. The messiness of a room would be the independent variable, but the study would have two dependent variables: levels of creativity and mood.

Examples of Dependent Variables

As you are learning to identify the dependent variables in an experiment, it can be helpful to look at examples. Here are just a few examples of psychology research using dependent and independent variables.

  • How does the amount of time spent studying influence test scores? In this example, the amount of studying would be the independent variable and the test scores would be the dependent variable. The test scores vary based on the amount of studying prior to the test. The researcher could change the independent variable by instead evaluating how age or gender influence test scores.
  • How does stress influence memory? In this example, the dependent variable might be scores on a memory test and the independent variable might be exposure to a stressful task.
  • How does a specific therapeutic technique influence the symptoms of psychological disorders? In this case, the dependent variable might be defined as the severity of the symptoms a patient is experiencing, while the independent variable would be the use of a specific therapy method.
  • Does listening to classical music help students earn better grades on a math exam? In this example, the scores on the math exams are the dependent variable and the classical music is the independent variable.
  • How long does it take people to respond to different sounds? In this example, the length of time it takes participants to respond to a sound is the dependent variable, while the sounds are the independent variable.
  • Do first-born children learn to speak at a younger age than second-born children? In this example, the dependent variable is the age at which the child learns to speak and the independent variable is whether the child is first- or second-born.
  • How does alcohol use influence reaction times while driving? The amount of alcohol a participant ingests is the independent variable, while their performance on the driving test is the dependent variable.

A Word From Verywell

Understanding what a dependent variable is and how it is used can be helpful for interpreting different types of research that you encounter in different settings. When you are trying to determine which variables are which, remember that the independent variables are the cause while the dependent variables are the effect.