We’ve all been offered vague advice about how to build good academic study habits, suggestions like “motivate yourself” and “don’t procrastinate.” Sure, these are ideals that we all want to incorporate into our studying, but what are the practical steps to get there? This article will outline 5 concrete tools you can start using today to make your study habits more effective. These tricks will help you focus, retain information and accomplish more in your study time.
1. Get a healthy amount of sleep
This is some advice that you’ll be happy to follow. According to Healthline, there are numerous cognitive benefits to good sleep, including increased productivity and focus and improved memory and problem-solving abilities. Not only does your brain perform better with more sleep, but you’re more likely to adhere to structured study times if you’re strict with yourself about your sleep schedule. Get disciplined about bedtime and study time.
If you’re on board to commit to better sleep habits, there are a few things to keep in mind. Getting a healthy amount of sleep doesn’t mean sleeping as much as you can. Rather, quality sleep involves maintaining a consistent bedtime, and waking up at roughly the same time every day. Also, ensure that your sleep is restful for the most benefit. If you’re really committed to getting serious about your sleep, try turning off your phone at least 15 minutes before you plan on falling asleep, and stay away from caffeine after noon each day.
2. Set up a place to study that promotes focus
Prepare your space and your mind for maximum concentration. First, ensure you have a peaceful area where your mind can concentrate on the subject matter, free from all the things that will distract you most. Sitting in a crowded cafe on campus might be a bad idea if you’re a social butterfly, likely to get distracted by friends. Sitting near a window if you’re prone to people-watching is only setting yourself up for failure. Make sure you are in a soothing space, but not at the expense of running into distractions. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever find yourself able to eliminate every external interruption, but only allow the distractions that are manageable if possible.
Second, prepare that other space you use for studying – your brain. Research has shown that when our brains are overwhelmed with stress, our capacity to learn new information is diminished because our brains stop making new pathways. Stress and anxiety prevent the possibility of studying because when our bodies react to what we perceive as dangerous or adverse situations, resources are drawn to survival mechanisms. Addressing these underlying fears will promote more productive, fruitful study, because all of your brain’s energy can be devoted to the task.
Unfortunately, getting rid of anxiety doesn’t happen that easily. Seeking professional help to manage stress or anxiety will help you with your focus more than you know. In the meantime, if you can eliminate particular worries before studying, you’ll be better off. Create a ritual of closing your eyes and taking deep breaths to get you in the zone. Use the first few minutes of your study time to calm down and remove yourself from the chaos of the day.
3. Take a break from the virtual world
Ok, maybe you need your computer for your studying. We’ll let that fly. But you don’t need social media within reach. The best study habit for college or other academia is distancing yourself from your phone or other electronic distractions.
Physically moving your phone so it’s inconvenient to reach or turning it off will help keep you focused for longer periods of time. When you feel that itch to check social media, recommit to the grind of studying. Overall, you’ll spend less time studying if you use mental breaks for some deep breaths or stretches instead of mindless scrolling through a social media news feed.
If you’re online for studying purposes, all it takes is one click to add a new tab and dive into the internet’s limitless distractions. Help yourself out by blocking the most distracting websites and don’t save social media passwords on your computer. Turn off notifications to your laptop, too. You might feel some apprehension at first about being MIA if your friends text you, but as time goes on the anxiety will decrease and you’ll feel liberated from that distracting attachment to your phone.
4. Make the information interesting
The way we are taught to take notes and identify important information is too frequently ineffectual because it is sterilized. We’re taught to remember dates and names and definitions, extracting all of our sensory experiences from the information. This makes a potentially fascinating subject into an uninteresting and lifeless archive that reads like a telephone book.
Each of us learns differently, but everyone learns better when information is interesting. Adding in personal reactions and anecdotes, visual cues and some thoughts at the time you are taking notes or studying brings the information to life. Use visual images to your advantage, even if they don’t directly relate to the subject matter. Use funny acronyms that include mental images or draw doodles in the margins of your notes. Studies suggest that visual aides remain stored in long-term memory, whereas words are only retained short-term.
Efforts well worth the commitment
Building good study habits is worth the time it takes. Any investment you make toward studying is received back when your study time is peaceful and productive. Good sleep, peaceful study spaces, distance from social media and interesting notes are all ways you can make your studying more efficient today, to see results fast.
Following these study tips won’t help you if stress and anxiety are clouding your mind, though. Seek professional help from The Light Program to combat the biggest distraction of all. Get the mental help you need by calling (610) 644-6464 today.