Updated: Apr 12, 2021
Do you ever feel like your long hours of studying and those all-nighters before exams are just not working? Do you wonder what you could do to study more effectively?
As a college student, studying, although very important, is just one activity among many completing ones fighting for your attention and time. Learning how to study more effectively while dealing with your expanding social circle, part-time jobs, post-graduation decisions, and physical and mental health, is utterly important for you to stay on top of your academics while maintaining a balanced college life.
Here are 5 scientifically-proven strategies for effective studying. Experiment with these tips and find a combination that works for you to live a more balanced and fulfilled college life.
1. Approach Studying with A Positive Mindset 💪
Many people approach studying by thinking to themselves "I have to study" as if studying is a daunting and necessary task. This negative mindset not only demotivates you to work or study
but also put too much mental pressure on yourself.
Instead of saying "I have to study", you can say "I get to study." This change of simply one word from "have to" to "get to" can magically rewire your mind. Now, you are telling yourself, "I get this wonderful opportunity to expand my knowledge in this field at this time. I'd better take it." This positive mindset can boost your study motivation and get yourself to study with a clearer purpose.
2. Use The Pomodoro Technique to Divide Your Work 🍅
"Studying for 4 hours" or "finishing the whole book" may sound intimidating, but how about "starting off by only studying for 25 minutes and then take a break?" Sounds much better, right?
The Pomodoro Technique can help you do exactly that. Created by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, the Pomodoro Technique is a popular time management hack to get people to work or study with maximum focus and minimum mental fatigue.
The process is simple: for any task you are about to work on, break down your work into 25-min focused blocks, separated by 5-min breaks. Each interval is called a “pomodoro” (the Italian word for ‘tomato’ 🍅, after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that Cirillo used as a student.) After 4 "pomodoros", you can take a longer break (15-30 minutes) and then decide if you’d like to start a new cycle for another task.
I’ve used this method for quite a long time now and find it very effective. The 25-min short focused blocks helped ease my anxiety going into the projects and the 5-min breaks helped reduce my mental fatigue by changing things up. As I’ve benefited a lot from this technique,
I created a few STUDY WITH ME videos
using the Pomodoro Technique, hoping to help more people to experience an improvement in their productivity while studying or working. If you want to give
the Pomodoro Technique a try? Click here
for more Study With Me videos and become my study buddy online.
3. Use the Two-minute Rule to Stop Procrastination ✔️
Have you ever hated it that even though you know you need to do something but you "just don't feel like it" or are not motivated enough to do it? Have you ever wanted to make a big change in your life but ended up doing nothing because you tried to accomplish too many things in too short a time? Everyone procrastinates at some point for different reasons. And many people suffer from feelings of regret and guilt due to the snowball effect of procrastination.
Recently, I read the book "Atomic Habits" by James Clear and learned a strategy called "the two- minute rule." It is surprisingly effective, and I found myself crushing my procrastination since I've been following this simple rule.
The rationale behind the Two-minute Rule is simple: Using James' own words, "the first two minutes are like the entrance ramp to a highway. They lead you down a path and, before you know it, you're speeding toward the next behavior." On one hand, you check your social media for "just 5 minutes" and you find yourself have already spent an hour scrolling through the screen. You open a bag of Hot Cheetos for "just a few pieces" and the whole bag is gone before you know it. On the other hand, you can put the Two-minute Rule to good use and "cure" your procrastination:
"Prepare your desk and open your notes" if you want to "study for an exam."
"Put on your running shoes and clothes" if you want to "run for 30 minutes."
"Hide your cell phone in a drawer" if you want to "work without distraction."
Figure out these two-minute "entry ramp" habits for things you need/want to do and follow them, you will be on your way to a productive day just as you've always wanted to.
4. Use Downtime to Your Advantage 💡
In addition to setting aside specific large sessions purely for studying, you can take advantage of
small blocks of time to get a lot of workloads done and reinforce things you’ve just learned.
Reflecting on your daily routine, there are many opportunities for learning to happen. For example, you can use the time while you are commuting, getting ready in the morning, exercising, or showering. Take account of these moments and use them wisely:
Watch your online course videos while you are commuting
Make an audio recording of the important learning points you want to memorize and listen to it while you are exercising, commuting, or folding laundry
Create online flashcards and use them to test yourself while you are on the train
The list simply goes on, but the important point is to think strategically and use your idle time to your advantage.
5. Ready a List of Things to Get Yourself Re-energized 💪
Yes, we can be crushing our to-do list for a few hours straight without feeling tired, and that feels very empowering. However, we all experience a drop in energy at some point during the day. For me, it happens around 30 minutes after lunch. Even though there are still a lot of things I want to accomplish, I just don't feel like to start or I might be quite inefficient tackling the task even though I managed to start on it. To improve my productivity during my low-energy hours, I prepared a list of things to get myself re-energized. I have this list handy around my workspace and will simply pick one thing from the list to do whenever I feel a slump in my productivity. So here is my magic list ✨ to re-energize myself:
Grab a Cup of Coffee: Duh, coffee has been scientifically shown not only to reduce fatigue and tiredness but also to improve our brain stimulation and mood. So next time you feel difficult to concentrate, go for a 10-min coffee run, or make yourself a cup of coffee, and you are good to keep bashing through your tasks.
A Quick Stretching or a Brief Workout: Both activities can get your blood flowing and re-energize you for the rest of the day, both mentally and physically.
A Walk: If circumstances allow, a walk after an intense working/studying session is a great way to re-energize yourself. The combination of physical exercise and fresh air can not only stimulate blood flow in your body but also help to clear your mind and restore higher-level thinking, preparing you for your next task.
A 10-min Decluttering: A brief decluttering can not only help to get your daily chores out of your way before you know it, but it can also help declutter your mind and reduce the level of your stress and anxiety. With a calmer mind, you now can better concentrate on your important tasks.
Feel free to create your own list of things to re-energize yourself during low-energy hours, I assure you that'll be a lot of fun.
With the above 5 strategies equipped, I hope you all have a happy and productive day!
Cheers 🥂 ~