How I Study: Reflections of 'Digital Native,' Hima Rajana

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Editor's Note: The term "digital native" has become a common label for the current generation of tech-savvy teenagers. But the term has many built-in assumptions about their comfort with technology and its role in their lives. In our "Student Voices" series, we ask students to share how they actually use technologies in their lives.

Name: Hima Rajana

Year: Lynbrook High School Class of 2015

Favorite subject: Biology and Neuroscience

Current mobile device: iPhone 6

Current computer: MacBook Air (September 2013)

Bio: My name is Hima Rajana, and I’m a senior at Lynbrook High School. I’m involved at my school through student government, both at the school and the district level, serving as the Intra-District Council Rep. I work at a neuroimaging lab at UCSF, where I pursue my interest in neuroscience. For fun, I love photography, hiking, reading, and working on my blog.

What apps/software/tools can't you live without?

Google Drive: I’m always on the go, and I don’t always have my laptop with me. Google Drive allows me access to all of my docs and spreadsheets. This is especially useful for my leadership responsibilities at school, since we’re always planning the next event or getting feedback on a recent event. Having all of my documents organized into folders makes finding things quick and saves me time.

SelfControl: To compensate for my lack thereof, I turn on the Mac SelfControl app whenever I need to work without interruptions. Using this free app, I can block specific domain names. Some of mine are Facebook, Instagram, Blogger, Buzzfeed, and Forever21.com. The nice thing about this app is that there is no way around it. I can’t just go on an Incognito or Private window, or open a different browser. Nor can I restart my computer or quit the app; I remove all distractions and, therefore, am incredibly productive. This has proved useful recently in writing my college essays.

What's your best time-saving trick/life hack?

Going to bed when I’m tired. I find it easier to wake up in the morning and approach things with a fresh mind. When it’s 11 PM and I’ve been up since 6 AM, sometimes it’s better to go to sleep.

What's your ideal study-space setup like?

This depends on the subject. Usually for literature, history, and Spanish, I like to sit on the family room couch with my laptop, notebook, and a blanket. If I’m studying math or science, I like to sit at the dining table. Regardless of where I’m studying, I always have music playing, which changes depending on my mood. Although it’s still November, I’m already listening to a Christmas music playlist on Spotify.

What's your favorite to-do list manager?

I use a combination of virtual and physical to-do lists. For big long term tasks, such as college apps, I put deadlines on spreadsheets and on  Wunderlist, where I can organize my to-do lists my genre. For quick reminders, like people to talk to at school and emails to send out, I use both the reminder app on my iPhone and mini legal pads.

What do you listen to while you study?

All kinds of music, from Taylor Swift’s latest album, which I’ve had on repeat for several weeks, to the Piano Guys.

What technologies does your school use?

Technology use at my school is largely up to the individual teachers, so it varies widely. For example, in my physics class, my teachers still uses an overhead projector and transparencies for lectures, but we also watch Khan Academy videos. In my government class, my teacher uses  homeroom.me, a website created by Lynbrook alumni. Homeroom serves as a discussion forum where we post articles and videos so our classmates can respond to them.

How do you memorize?

This is pretty weird, but I read aloud to myself in a British accent. I’m not sure what it is about it, but I really don’t forget it. Apart from this, I find that one of the most effective ways to study for a test is to teach peers. It shows you where exactly you need to study more.

How do you organize your time?

I always organize my after-school schedule in my head on my drive home from school. I first give myself about half an hour to eat a snack and answer emails, and then start on my homework. I tend to blow through my lighter tasks, like a Spanish vocab quiz, first, and then leave the heavier assignments for later in the night. I take a short break every hour for about 5 minutes to get up and stretch, refill my water bottle or tea mug, and restore mental clarity, which allows me to get as much done as possible.

Who do you talk to about school?

My friends, teachers, and guidance counselors at school.

What do you use to make presentations, documents and spreadsheets?

Google Drive and Prezi, although Prezi tends to make me a little dizzy.

Fill in the blank: I'd love to see _____ answer these same questions.

MIT Psychology professor Dan Ariely. He has done a lot of research on the science of procrastination, and I would love to see how he applies his knowledge in his daily life.

Is there anything else you want to add for readers?

Don’t forget that while it’s important to stay organized, you can’t schedule or organize happiness. Give yourself an unscheduled day off once in a while--you might surprise yourself.

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