Whether you’re about to go back to school or are still in the midst of studying for your degree (like me) I think we can all agree on something: studying can be really hard sometimes. However, there are definitely some ways to make it a little bit easier on yourself. I’m currently writing my postgraduate dissertation full time (which is actually one of the main reasons I’ve been inactive on here, sorry about that!) so I feel pretty confident in saying that I have a lot of studying experience. Some days are horrible, but a lot of the time I study pretty effectively and I get done what needs to be done.
So today I thought I would share my tips for effective studying. Some of these might seem pretty obvious, but I hope that they can all be helpful in making your study session a little bit easier!
Plan it out
This is something that probably seems pretty straightforward, but it’s a step that I feel a lot of people miss when they are in the midst of studying. There are two reasons why I think planning out your studying time is important; one, it allows you to study in a organized and structured way and two, it makes your final task seem a lot less daunting. I used to not really plan out my studying time because I thought that it was most effective to just work on what I was feeling on a day-to-day basis. But this didn’t really work out. What ended up happening was that I would get so stressed out about the final assignments that I would be very ineffective in studying.
What I do now is I plan out my week every Sunday night; I set myself study tasks for each day. Because I plan out my time, I don’t have to set myself massive study goals daily, because I’m giving myself time to accomplish them. Instead, I have several smaller study tasks to complete each day, making the whole process much more manageable and much less stressful. I’m currently using these planner sheets each week, you can see one in the picture above, and they have been so helpful in planning out my study time.
I know you’ve probably hear this time and time again but it’s so true: don’t leave things to the last minute. Instead, pace yourself to do a little bit each day so that you don’t end up having to cram everything in at the last minute and cause yourself stress. As I said before; plan out your time so that you do a little bit each day. Spending two weeks writing an essay at a relaxed pace is so much more doable that writing it in two days where you just feel overwhelmed.
Change your study environment
Nothing, to me, is as discouraging as studying in the same spot day in day out. You get used to and bored of your environment and you are more likely to dose of. So I try to have at least two different study environments per day, and change them out throughout the week. For example, in the morning I might study in one of my many beloved coffee shops, and in the afternoon I’ll head to the library. If you don’t have the flexibility to go to different places, you can still change your study environment at home. Have at least two spaces in the house where you can study, so that you can switch in between them.
In order for your brain to stay active you need to remain active physically as well. Doing a physical activity will allow you not only to take a break for studying, but it will also allow your body to do something besides sitting and using your brain. I like to do yoga in the morning and walk to my different study environments (this usually means that I end up walking 2 hours a day). I find that this really helps to clear my head and in turn allows me to be much more productive when I get back to studying.
This tip very much ties into the one above: take breaks! You can’t expect your brain to be on all the time and studying; it, just like you, needs breaks. Besides taking breaks to do something active, you can also take smaller breaks throughout the day. Take your time making lunch, read a book for 20 minutes, meet up with a friend or do some chores around the house. Taking regular breaks allows you to be productive for longer.
Have study dates
Sometimes studying on your own can get so boring that you end up not doing much work at all. This is where study dates come in; working with someone else will motivate you and also make you realise that you’re not the only one being overloaded with work. Also, it allows you to catch up with your peers and have some very important social time.
Those are my top study tips; let me know if you’ve found this helpful or if you have any other tips that help you study effectively. I wish you all the best of luck with studying, we can do it!