If you’ve ever sat down at your desk to study and turned on your computer and found yourself an 2 hours later with your email and five social media windows open instead, you’re not alone. Here are a few tips and tricks to avoid procrastination and help make your study time more effective.
1. Schedule it
You will have better focus and retention if you block off your study time on your calendar. Don’t just presume you’ll be able to fit in studying whenever you’re between doing dishes, chatting with your roommates, going to the gym or watching tv. Let the others in your house know your study schedule. Plan around it and try to keep it at the same times each day. That way it’s easier to become a habit. Set goals for each session and allocate time for difficult tasks when your energy levels are highest. It’s like a work schedule; remember, it’s worth it to make sure this education you’re getting has value!
2. Get your space in order
Make your environment an immersive study area.No distractions.This means your phone should be in a drawer with notifications and ringer turned off.Turn off additional unneeded screens in your direct view and in your peripheral vision.If there is anything on your desk that you don’t need for studying, be sure to put it away; even if it’s the rest of your whole term of notes--if you’re only focusing on one section. Keep only the things you need on your desk along with some water, and whatever healthy snacks you’re likely to want.Make sure your chair supports good posture and is at the proper height.Arrange your space to make sure you have the light you need coming from the right direction.If you need to add additional lighting, avoid fluorescent bulbs that emit harsh lighting and can prematurely tire you out.
3. Take breaks
Breaks are important for wellness. Find your own rhythm and follow it. Some people need a break after 90 minutes. Some people 2 hours. Some 4 hours. Figure out when you need to stand up, stretch, go the bathroom, or take a lungful of fresh air outside. A good rule of thumb is if you start thinking of stretching the tight muscles in your back instead of your study topic, then you’re probably ready to stand up and stretch them. Schedule some longer breaks in too. Make the most of them because studying can be hard work and you don’t need to feel guilty when you’re watching Netflix, as long as it doesn’t cut into your scheduled study time. Your body also needs breaks for things like meals and sleep! If you feel overwhelmed, stressed or depressed, remember to talk to a friend, family member, teacher or councillor.
4. Stay healthy
Putting your health and wellbeing first will make it easier to maximize the effectiveness of your memory, energy levels and happiness. If you usually get enough sleep, eat properly, and engage in some moderate exercise on a regular basis, your body will be better equipped to handle the extra stress you will put on it during exam time. Don’t put off medical or dental appointments. Avoid screens for an hour before bed, avoid caffeine in the evening and practice some deep breathing once the lights are out. Of course there will be those frantic cramming sessions for exams where you don’t feel there’s enough time for anything else, but if you’ve been staying healthy, you’ll handle it better.
5. Remember your goals
Remember the reason why you’re going to school. If it’s to learn, then you’ll need to study. If it’s to get a great job in the field you enjoy, then you’ll need to study. If it’s to experience everything that getting a post-secondary education away from home can offer, well, you’ll need to study too, or you might not get to stay!
Growing and learning won’t always be comfortable, but if you’re always comfortable, then you won’t be growing and learning. Have fun, study hard, and be your best you!