Study sessions can be productive and efficient uses of our time, or they can feel like an endless void of grinding. This only gets worse when you have work after class or have a big project due soon.
So how can you make it that homework/studying is nothing more than just a passing thought? First things first, you have to reframe your mindset. Studying is not fun. But at the end of the day, it’s supposed to help you retain. You get what you put into it. It’s like practicing your jump shot or dance routine. Like them, studying is there to reinforce what you might have learned in school. And if you didn’t get it in class, then it’s good practice. So let’s talk about tips to studying efficiently.
Find a Location
Find a spot where you can’t take a nap or be distracted by food or people. And make this place the area where you always do your homework. Every time you sit down there, your brain should know that it is time to go to work. It’s kind of like when you go to work, and your mind knows that it’s now time to work and not nap, even though there are days when I want to take a nap at work. A quiet space where you can buckle down with little to no distractions will help you in the long run when it comes to the day-to-day grind of studying.
Secondly, you need to prioritize what needs to get done. After you have your space and settle in to it, the next step is listing out what’s due and when, and what needs to get done today. Sometimes you have math homework that’s due tomorrow and a history test you need to study for in three days. Prioritizing is all about time management. You know yourself better than anyone, so you can have a rough idea of how long each assignment will take you.
My college roommate would save his 4-page papers for the night before they were due. (I am not encouraging this, but he got away with it because he knew that he needed 5 hours for research, writing, and editing.) When I had a reading assignment, I would plan it out so I did not have to read the whole thing in one day. I know I can read about 60 pages in an hour. So if I had to read 100 pages for class, I knew that I needed about 2 hours to read it all. Also, always give yourself time for breaks.
Learning to Study
There is this thing called the Pomodoro technique for when you are doing work. It goes like this; you decide what task you are working on, then you set a timer to 25 minutes and work until it goes off. After 25 minutes, you get a 5 minutes break. After the fourth break, you get to take a 30-minute break. The mind can only hold focus for so long before it becomes wasted energy. Be smart with what time you have, and don’t try to cram all the information in at once.
Dealing with Distractions
I need some background noise when I study. I tried having the T.V. on, but that just ended up with me watching T.V. I can’t listen to music with lyrics because I will start writing down what I’m hearing. So my solution is Lo-Fi. It is the best study music ever! It is a hip-hop jazz beats mixed with some electronic elements. No lyrics, but the calming melodies help put my mind at ease while I do work. And if music is too distracting, look up some white noise like rain or a waterfall. Or if you’re like my one friend who cannot listen to anything when she studies, then do what she does. She puts on headphones and leaves them unplugged that way, you block out noise, and people are less likely to bother you.
Set a Routine
Lastly, make this a routine. Routines make life so much less stressful. Why should you have to worry about making time for homework when you can make it part of your routine? There is mental relief in knowing that at least one thing has been taken care of in your day. Routines make the stressful, stress-free.
Studying used to be the bane of my existence. But with a little discipline and a readiness to work, then maybe it can be less stressful. It is meant to help reinforce what you learned and help practice what you don’t understand. But the day-to-day grind of school can increase stress and anxiety, so plan accordingly.
Make a space where you can work with little to no distractions, make a list of what needs to get done and prioritize, help yourself focus by playing some white noise, study in increments to help keep you focused, and lastly, make homework a routine and alleviate the stress that homework brings.
Know the difference between recognition and recollection. When you study, do you remember the material, or are there keywords and phrases that trigger your memory? Don’t just absorb information and data dump it onto a test, never to remember it again. Actively studying will allow you to remember without any hints or clues to guide you along.
If you are curious about making homework and studying a little easier, then read our article on The Best Resources to Help Stay on top of School.