Finding it hard to stick to your study routine? Do you find yourself scrolling aimlessly through socials or standing at the fridge not really even hungry? No problem, we've a few simple but proven tips to help you be effective at your study.
1. Set a timer
When you know you have a set amount of time you will be far more likely to stick to that timeslot and be productive. Try the pomodoro technique - set a timer for 25 minutes of work followed by a 5-minute break to time-block your allocated study period.
2. Put the devices away
Yes, you knew this one was coming, pop them away and on silent. Put your phone and devices on aeroplane mode, or “do not disturb”, and leave them in another room to reduce distractions.
If you find the fridge a distraction, try to set up study in another room where you can’t see the fridge (out of sight out of mind), and use the timer method to schedule in ‘fridge checks’, you’ll be more likely to focus on your study.
3. Use chunking
Think of your memory a little like a library. If you chuck books into the room you've little chance of finding them again. But… I bet you can recall a book in a library (the old fashion one that you actually go into) by its location. Chunking pieces of information, for example by colouring sections, reduces the amount of single bites of info your brain has to store and then recall where you've parked it. You'll be amazing at how the colour system you’ve used can trigger the bites of info related to it. Colour coding tends to be super effective if you’re a visual learner.
4. Rehearse it
Literally, rehearse your study notes. Take a section at a time and explain it aloud as if you were teaching the concept to someone, try recording yourself and playing it back. If you can explain it, you can be pretty sure you’ve got it nailed.
Here’s a great strategy, it’s the reduce, recite, rehearse method. Create a recording explaining the concepts or points of what you’ve learned. Play it back and check your understanding, if you can verbally share a concept there’s a pretty good chance you’ve got it firmly in your memory.
5. Schedule out your study
It's like going to the store without a shopping list, you know it, you'll come home with stuff you were distracted by. The same goes for studying, create a plan and be realistic. Plan in your study day/s, set the time you'll study and how long for, and set your objective (what you want to have done).
Don’t forget to schedule your assessments by planning each of the steps you’ll need to carry out to submit your work. Plan your study around your life, this way you’ll give everything an appropriate amount of effort and reduce any feelings of under or overdoing things.
6. Mind your head
Mindfulness is a stress-management technique which involves observing your thoughts, feelings and breath. As a quick exercise, sit with your feet flat on the ground and your back straight but not touching the back of the chair. Set your phone timer to countdown for 90 seconds. Rest your right hand in your left hand and close your eyes. Breathe a little slower and more consciously than usual, and feel the air entering and exiting your nose, your chest slowly rising and falling. When your mind wanders, mentally acknowledge the thought, then return to focusing on your breaths, in and out. A mind clearing technique that helps clear your thoughts, focusing on your breathing will calm you and help you re-focus when tired.
Head Space have great free resources.
7. If you don’t snooze, you loose
We all need our sleep. Sleep is essential for optimal health; we feel so much better when our body has had a rest. Make sure you make time for sleep. The recommended amount of sleep is typically 7-9 hours. When you are stressed, or you have focused all day studying, it can be hard to unwind and get to sleep. Try a mindfulness app, breathing techniques or play a sleep story to stop thinking about your studies. If you find yourself waking, have a pen and paper beside the bed so you can write down your thoughts to come back to in the morning.
8. Treat yourself (num num brain foods…)
Reward yourself with some nutrition-packed super foods. You could enjoy something as simple as a trail mix with a selection of nuts, seeds and sundried fruit, or something like a berry and Acài smoothie, or some delicious Red Velvet Chia and Oat Protein Balls. Our favourites are a bowl of fresh fruits, an oat milk chai tea and cacao and quinoa bites. We have a great selection of recipes at Well College Global.
Our friends at International Student Identity Card (ISIC), who we partner with, asked how to keep their students refreshed and mindful during their winter studies.
Michele Cooper for ISIC.
Ally McDonald-Bull; Wellness Coach