“The swiftest way to triple your success is to double your investment in personal development.” - Robin Sharma

If you’ve heard of Brainscape before, you’ll probably know that it’s a flashcard app that uses spaced repetition to help you learn any content-heavy subject much faster. It’s like a pocket tool for academic and professional growth, whether your priority is acing high school biology, the bar exam, or an advanced business certification.

So then, what do I mean when I say that you can also use Brainscape to “level up your personal growth?” And, best of all, in ZERO additional study time?

I’m talking about the other stuff: the parts of your human experience, ambition, and success that lie outside of your studies or work. (And, no, it doesn’t involve Tony Robbins and his impossibly white teeth or adding turmeric to your café latte.)

I’m talking about developing:

  • Healthy habits,
  • Emotional intelligence,
  • Social skills,
  • Resilience to adversity,
  • Financial education, and
  • Human capital

… all of which will empower you to improve your quality of life and personal and professional relationships.

No amount of academic study can achieve this type of personal growth, but with the addition of a carefully-curated collection of Personal Development flashcards and a feature called ‘Smart Study’, Brainscape has innovated a way for all our learners to actively integrate personal growth into your daily study routine—no additional time required—no matter which subject you’re using our app to learn.

Let me show you how…

Say “hello” to Brainscape’s Personal Development flashcards

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.” - Amelia Earhart
Brainscape Personal Development flashcard mobile

First, I need to introduce you to Brainscape’s Personal Development flashcards, a collection of 5 decks of 64 flashcards into which we have pooled our collective wisdom and lived experience. Seriously, we have reviewed THOUSANDS of self-help books, videos, and podcasts into just these few dozen flashcards.

The goal is to give learners, like you, the wisdom to initiate and guide the most important conversations you have in your life. Yes, the conversations you have with your spouse, family, friends, and colleagues but, more importantly, the conversations you have with yourself.

Because those are the hardest conversations, right?

It’s the power struggle between “future you” and “right now you”. You know the one: where “right now you” wants to binge watch Apple TV while “future you” recognizes the importance of studying, going for a 45-minute run, or finally doing that seven-storey pile of laundry that is starting to smell like a fromagerie.

But it’s also the conversation between “adult you” and “11-year-old you”: that inner reactive, emotional, and insecure being who will always be with you, even if you were raised by two loving parents.

The team here at Brainscape wanted to craft a targeted toolbox that could be used to drip-feed the right habits, correctional mindsets, and healthy reminders into your day, at just the right time so as to become deeply ingrained in your consciousness.

What does this toolbox cover?

  • Healthy Habits: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting to wake up with a normal blood pressure. These flashcards deliver the tips and reminders you need to make smarter food choices, drink more water, improve sleep hygiene, and develop habits that improve your overall wellness and mental resilience.
  • Discreet Chair Workouts: If a busy work/study life is your excuse for not having used your gym membership in three years, this suite of discreet desk workout exercises will help you transform your McDonald's burgers into buns of steel. Best of all, they take ZERO time out of your day. You read that right: stay toned and energized while sitting on your caboose in front of your computer!
  • Social Skills: Life is hard and relationships are even harder. But with the core social skills taught in this deck, you'll cultivate the necessary "inner peace" to not cut a b**ch every time you get angry. Yay, no jail time for you! From drafting an academy-award-winning apology (that you actually mean) to practicing gratitude, you’ll learn how to emerge from every social situation a better person.
  • Emotional Growth: Consider this deck your very own copy of Sun Tzu's 'Art of War', except, instead of emerging victorious from a battle with the Chu army, it’ll give you the mental strategies to confront your keenest opponent: your very own brain, with all its tricksy chemicals, feelings, learned behaviors, and negative thought patterns.
  • Finance, Career, & Productivity: If you'd rather wear socks made out of spiders than read another ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ book, you'll find all the need-to-know money / career stuff right here. From getting your purpose into focus to maintaining a budget that'll finally dig your a$$ out of the red, this deck delivers the frequent reminders you need to be a productive and financially responsible adult.

There you have it: 5 decks and 64 flashcards, all curated to help you level up your personal growth. And the best part is that benefiting from these flashcards takes zero additional minutes per day, since you'll just be incorporating them into how you're already using Brainscape for your other subjects!

But this, my friend, is just the “what” of the matter. Now, I need to explain the “how”...

[Psssst! Do you need help breaking out of a fixed mindset and learning how to stick to the long road, roll with the punches, be a little more patient, and embrace the learning curve? Read: 'How to unlock a growth mindset'.]

How to use Brainscape’s personal development flashcards

“Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.” - Bernice Johnson Reagon
Brainscape Personal Development flashcard mobile

Now that you have the tools to achieve your personal growth goals, it’s really important that you learn how to use them effectively… because our Personal Development flashcards are fundamentally different to any flashcards you may have studied before in Brainscape.

First of all…

Tip # 1: Rate each flashcard based on how often you want to see it, NOT on how well you remember it

Usually, when you see a flashcard in Brainscape, you are required to rate how well you know its answer on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “not at all” and 5 being “perfectly”. This informs our spaced repetition algorithm on how frequently to show you that card again: drilling you on your weaknesses, while saving you time on reviewing the concepts you already know well.

With our Personal Development flashcards, however, you need to rate each flashcard based on how often you WANT/NEED to see it again so as to be reminded of the action related to the important life lesson/skill that it teaches you. In other words, you’re NOT rating it based on how well you remember the answer!

To illustrate my point, check out the following flashcard from the deck ‘Building Healthy Habits’...

Brainscape's personal development flashcards healthy habits
Image: A flashcard example taken from the deck ‘Building Health Habits’ in Brainscape’s Personal Development collection. The left image shows the question side of the flashcard and the right image shows the answer side.

This flashcard teaches you some pretty nifty life hacks to increase your water intake every day. But more than simply equipping you with that knowledge, it serves as a REMINDER to actually stop what you’re doing and drink a glass of water.

In other words: it’s prompting you to put into action the healthy habit it talks about.

For this reason, it doesn’t matter how well you remember the tips listed on the answer side of the flashcard. Instead, what matters is how often you see that flashcard and are therefore reminded to drink water.

If you’re a water baby like me, you won’t need to see this reminder very often at all so I’d rate this card a ‘4’ or ‘5’. But if you’re like my partner, who only remembers to drink water when a migraine invariably sets in, you should rate this card a ‘1’ or ‘2’ so that you’ll get those reminders more often.

Do you see how this works?

If you want more frequent reminders to drink water—or any of the other habits discussed in our Personal Development flashcards—rate those flashcards 1’s and 2’s (i.e. "Hit me baby one more time"); but if you just need occasional reminders to, for example, budget wisely or improve your self-talk, rate those cards 4’s and 5’s (i.e. "Not today, Susan") and you’ll see them less often.

This is the first important thing you need to remember about how to use Brainscape’s Personal Development flashcards.

(And if you wanted clarity on how spaced repetition works, watch this video!)

The second thing you need to remember is…

Tip # 2: Use this class with Brainscape’s ‘Smart Study’ feature

Importantly, our Personal Development flashcards are specifically designed to be used with Brainscape’s ‘Smart Study’ feature.

If you’re a devotee of Brainscape you’re probably familiar with the study button you can use within a single subject, which shows you a mix of flashcards from across all the decks in that subject. ‘Smart Study’ allows you to study an optimized mix of flashcards from multiple subjects; as many (or few) as you want.

Moreover, it’s customizable. Simply tap on the “configure” icon next to the ‘Smart Study’ button, adjust the percentage of flashcards you’d like to see from each class, and the algorithm will do the rest. (This is where you set ‘Smart Study’ to include flashcards from Brainscape’s Personal Development collection!)

Brainscape's Smart Study feature
‘Smart Study’ is a single Study button that intelligently draws an exciting random mix across multiple subjects, which you can configure to meet your precise learning goals. It’s like having a personal AI tutor in your pocket!

This will interleave these flashcards with the subjects you’re already studying so that every now and then, in between your biology flashcards, for example, you’ll get a totally random but welcome reminder to work on yourself. Sit up straight, take a sip of water, practice a mantra that improves your focus or self-talk, and develop better health, financial, social, and study habits, etc.

“Won’t this just distract me from what I need to focus on?”

Quite the opposite, actually! Bouncing randomly between subjects is proven to help your brain make more meaningful connections between different concepts. So sprinkling some personal development work into your regular study is actually going to help your brain to establish deeper hooks to the information you’re trying to remember. It’s a study strategy called interleaving and you can read all about it in our Academy guide ‘Interleaving practice makes perfect’.

“What percentage of my study mix should include Personal Development flashcards?”

Well, it depends on how many personal growth topics you’d like to get in a single flashcard round of 10! Here are three configuration possibilities, assuming you’re studying two other subjects simultaneously:

Example 1: A “light dusting” of personal growth in between your other studies…

Personal Development: 10%

Subject 1: 45%

Subject 2: 45%

This will feed you a majority, equal mix of flashcards from subject 1 and 2, with about ONE personal development flashcard per round.

Example 2: More insistent life nags to accelerate your personal growth goals…

Personal Development: 20%

Subject 1: 40%

Subject 2: 40%

As before, but now with about TWO personal development flashcards per round of 10.

Example 3: Seriously focus on your personal growth alongside two other major subjects…

Personal Development: 100%

Subject 1: 100%

Subject 2: 100%

With all the percentages set as the same (100%), you’ll receive one flashcard from each subject every three or four flashcards.

[Psssst! Wanna add "be funnier" to your list of personal development goals? Check out our guide 'How to be funny: 7 ways to improve your sense of humor' and collection of Jokes flashcards to begin right away.]

“Why not just study Personal Development all at once?”

Our Personal Development flashcards were designed to be used with ‘Smart Study’, not only to fulfill their function as timely reminders to improve your habits but also to prevent “personal growth pains”.

These are caused by focusing too long and hard on personal growth in an attempt to force it along, without giving the lessons or different perspectives time to deeply percolate and become habitual; a part of your innate thought patterns.

Through ‘Smart Study’, however, Brainscape weaves your personal development work into your existing study mix. Done this way, the reminder or lesson each flashcard has for you will leave a much deeper mark on your brain.

Tip # 3: Don’t try to rush towards mastery

Finally, while we all love the sweet dopamine hit of “checking the box” and moving on to the next task or goal, that’s just not how these flashcards are meant to work. You’re not meant to memorize them all so you can rate them a ‘5’ and never look at them again. By cramming or rushing through them, you’re only cheating yourself.

Besides, really doing this personal work, which requires rewiring your mind and habits, can take months or years. It’s through gentle persistence and repetition that the tips, habits, and nags we present in these flashcards become habituated and deeply ingrained.

Expedite your journey towards whole-body, whole-mind integrity

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” - Frederick Douglass
Achieving a personal growth goal

You know that saying: “The best time to plant a fruit tree was 20 years ago; the second-best time is today”?

That’s what personal development is all about. It’s an investment in yourself, the fruits of which may take a few weeks, months, or even years to ripen. But at some point, you’ll look back and realize that you’ve come a heckova long way.

Those once-hard decisions have become effortless; the constant back-and-forth in your brain has ceased and become replaced with streamlined, automated thoughts; healthier choices are now the default; and negative thought patterns have become rewired to end in more positive outcomes.

You don’t have to be a self-help addict to benefit from Brainscape’s collection of Personal Development flashcards. In fact, anyone with a beating heart and a brain can and should use this class to optimize their growth while they work their way towards their other learning goals.

And now you too have the tools and the know-how to rise to any challenge, both personal and professional!