Here I would like to share my tips and tricks for getting started with a productive study session. I’m sure I’m not the only one that understands the struggle of going from barely studying at all in secondary school (guilty!) to suddenly being hit with the tsunami of work that is university life. So here’s my practises that I feel put me in the perfect mentality to get some work done.
Find out what makes you comfortable.
Are you a morning person or an evening person? Can you study with music blaring or does the entire house need to be silent for you to focus? Digital or handwritten notes? These are the questions that I have decided my definitive answers to, and this allows me to tailor my study sessions in a way that makes me feel comfortable. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am 100% a morning person. I can be up as early as 6:30am on my days off, and this is mostly to catch some quality study time before the rest of the world wakes up and starts being NOISY. However you may prefer to study late into the night, after everyone has gone to bed. It’s important to choose what works for you.
Organise your life.
Although I am in the running for the title of Most Organised Person on the Planet, my über-structured days bring a lot of peace and routine to my studies. As I know that I am a morning person, I don’t even attempt to schedule a study session anything after 11am (unless it’s in the lead-up to exams of course!), because I know that it works for me. As with just about anything else, life is about a balance. So make a list of everything that you do in your day-to-day life; studying, going to class, your part time job or socialising. Don’t forget to include the necessities like eating and sleeping, or the annoying time-wasters like commuting! Create a balance for yourself and always allow an extra hour here and there to do whatever you want.
Sort out a routine.
Having a routine is what holds me together. It’s the kind of thing that seems obsessive, but knowing what I’m doing can keep me focussed. One thing that is really important is what time you fall out of bed at each morning. Having my alarm wake me 5am on weekdays but then not rolling out of bed till nearer 11am on weekends would completely throw me off. So even on days off try and hold together a little bit of a routine. I don’t allow myself late nights or long lies until I’m on a break or holiday from university, then I indulge in some long lies (what an exciting life I must lead!).
I’d certainly be a bit of a hypocrite if I started to preach to you about running a marathon every day or only eating fruit. But some healthy practises can really contribute to how I feel when I’m studying. Taking regular breaks (more on that in a minute) to grab something to eat can give your brain the boost that it needs. Drink water or tuck into a snack during your study session. I spend a lot of my study sessions hunched over a keyboard, so I think it’s important to take a few minutes to move around… don’t let the old bones grow stiff! Try standing up and walking around every now and then if you have been working at a desk, and remember that it’s important to have at least 6-8 hours of sleep at night.
An app that I have been using to track my sleep is Sleep Better. It has a built in alarm with one of those clever functions to wake you up when you’re at a light level of sleep, so it’s not as unsettling to be woken up! You can also track things like your mood or dreams on the app, in order to track what effects your good nights’ sleep.
Taking Regular Breaks
I know only too well how difficult it is to drag yourself away from a 2,000 word essay, but as painful as it is trust me, you have to. It has been scientifically proven (I think) that your brain has a threshold that when reached, you just stop learning. Nobody wants a wasted study session, cramming information into your head that just falls straight back out again. A study tip that I have seen floating around the internet for a while now is the famed Pomodoro Method. The Pomodoro Method works like this: set a timer on your phone for 25 minutes of pure, undistracted study. When the timer rings, you can stop working and take a 5 minute break. That’s one pomodoro. For every four pomodoros that you sit, you can have a longer break, for example a half hour break. These little breaks are not only good for your health, but they can also reward you for studying hard.
An app I have been using for the pomodoro method is Flat Tomato. You can adjust the lengths of your pomodoro on this app and it works out all the timers for you. When the timer rings, you will receive a notification telling you either to take a break, or what task to start working on now. It’s so helpful if you can’t remember how many pomodoros you have been doing!
These are just some of my tips for getting started with a productive study session, and how to keep your concentration! I hope my ideas have been helpful, thanks for reading!