9 Effortless Ways to Get Smarter Every Day

Being called pretty, funny, or outspoken is nice, but being called smart is one of the most flattering compliments. I am most humbled when my friends are speaking of me and smart is one of the first words they use to describe me. Smart is a term we should use to compliment ourselves, as well as other women, way more often. This caused me to think about how and why they think of me that way, and what I do differently that other people could easily do as well. On my way to class one day I decided to make a list of these things in my phone, so here I bring you 9 effortless ways to get smarter every day!


1. Listen to Ted Talks instead of music while getting ready in the morning.

5 days per week, 12 weeks per semester, 60 opportunities to learn something new. There are Ted Talks on climate change, economics, gender, general health, neuroscience, sexuality, psychology, social inequality and almost anything else you can think of. Bonus: You can guarantee what you’re learning is credible since most Ted Talks are hosted by researchers or other scholars, and use them as sources (they come in handy for essays)!



2. Reevaluate who and what you follow.

If fitness models and “motivation” accounts do nothing but make you feel worse about yourself, which they likely do, toss that sh*t an unfollow so you can focus on being a better you without comparing yourself to the product of a staged photoshoot and digital editing (filters, lighting, Photoshop, the whole process).

Check out this post from fitness model Anna Victoria to get an idea of what I mean…

If you want some on-campus Laurier Instagram accounts that will motivate, inspire and change the way you think, check out @willaurier @bridgingthegaplaurier.


3. Disconnect.

Try deleting all social media apps (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, maybe not Snapchat… #streak) from your phone for a minimum of 24-48 hours a couple times per month. Minding the fact that all these sites are still accessible on your laptop, you’ll just be unable to check them once every ten minutes and probably start to pay more attention to your surroundings. Instead of taking a break by being on your phone, go for a walk, have a conversation, go to the gym, do ANYTHING but check toxic social media that will do nothing except discourage you.



4. Think about other people more often than you think about yourself.

Make sure you’re checking in with yourself every once in a while to make sure everything is good under the hood, but also take time to consider other people’s motives and thought processes. There seems to be a lot of hype about emotional intelligence** in the working world, so it's probably something to start considering now before you graduate.  When someone shows you something they like, think about why they might like it or what about it excites them.

**According to Psychology Today, Emotional intelligence (EI) is: the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. It is generally said to include three skills:

- Emotional awareness, including the ability to identify your own emotions and those of others;

- The ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problems solving;

- The ability to manage emotions, including the ability to regulate your own emotions, and the ability to cheer up or calm down another person.



5. Investigate the documentaries section on Netflix.

We both know you’re probably going to be watching it tonight anyways, so you might as well get smarter while you’re at it. Trust me, there’s some really good ones. If you’re looking for some recommendations, try: 


Food Inc. 

Poverty Inc. 


The Hunting Ground 


Or, browse other subgenres more suitable to your interests.


6. Read (and think) critically.

Anything and everything. Read news headlines, books and articles (like this one, shout out to you!). In addition, remember the things you learn but try not to believe them right away without first considering other opinions, perspectives, biases…that sort of thing.


7. Write.

Again, anything and everything. Handwrite when possible. Lecture notes, thoughts, ideas or anything that has potential to derail your train of thought while you’re trying to focus. When it comes time to come up with an idea for a project or a paper, don’t always choose your first thought. Try and think of something that you don’t think anyone else in your class would think to write about. It’s also interesting to argue against your own opinion in an academic paper. Tip: If you buy a cute notebook, you will most likely want to write in it more often than your class notebook. Tip 2: Get a notebook with no lines, often times it helps you write more creatively! (I’ve included a couple examples of such notebooks here and here


8. Make eye contact with your professors during lectures.

This one always makes me feel more accountable for my learning since I know they’ll likely notice if I get distracted by my phone, or if I stop looking up to meet their gaze as it wanders across a room full of faces staring at screens in front of them. I have also learned through my years of lectures that sitting front row actually helps…trust me. This way, you’ll actually become more engaged in what they’re lecturing about and reduce the temptation to scroll through messages or social media.



9. Walk out the door proud of the way you look.

There are times when this statement is hypocritical for me, since there are many days when my bed is too warm to leave or I’m heading straight from the gym and I don’t look as nice as I otherwise could. When I’m not confident in how much effort I put into presenting myself, I find I’m less likely to hold my head high or volunteer my ideas. If you’re confident about the way you look, then you will be confident in everything else you do. That’s why practicing confidence and owning your look is the best way to develop a sense of sophistication. Be proud of yourself and who you are! If you start to believe it and think this way, you’re likely to start performing better.


Get smart, Collegiettes!