5 tips for effective studying

Studying can be exhausting. Apart from the fact that many need a lot of motivation to start studying, our thoughts often drift away while studying. It is difficult for us to concentrate, we read the same passage in our textbooks over and over again and just cannot memorize what you need to study. In order for that not to happen to you and to maximize the benefit of your study-time, I have summarized my top 5 tips for effective studying for you! You can also easily use these tips in everyday work as well.

In contrast to my blog post Study tips for busy students, I’ll present tips to create the best possible conditions for learning in this blogpost.

Busy? Then I’ve summarized the most important information of this blogpost for you.
  • Set up a dedicated workspace so you can start studying right away.
  • Set a specific goal that you want to achieve in your study session.
  • Move in between!
  • Drink enough water!
  • Avoid distractions!

Workspace

I already mentioned the topic of a dedicated workplace in my blog post A desk for more productivity. If you have set up a fully equipped workplace that offers everything you need in order to study, it will be much easier for you to get into your study session. You don’t have to set up your laptop, search for your books, or ready paper and pen, you can start studying straight away.

If you study regularly at your workspace, it will automatically become easier for you to study here. Your brain will associate the process of studying with your workplace and it will become increasingly easier for you to get into studying straight away.

Goal

Usually I set a specific goal for each study-session. For example, I plan to continue studying until I have reached a specific chapter in the book or until I have repeated a certain number of pages. You are usually way more motivated at the beginning of a study-session than during or towards the end of the session. At the beginning of your study session, you are still motivated to do a lot and you’ll set your goal accordingly.

Over time, I have made it a habit not to stop until I reach the goal I set for myself. If I am particularly motivated, I also try to beat the goal I have set for myself and study more than I’ve originally planned to!

Movement

Studying for several hours can be mentally exhausting, so it is advisable to take small breaks every now and then. Many prefer fixed break times (for example, every hour), which is a good option. I schedule my breaks differently though. I always take a break when I notice that my concentration is fading.

I like to move during my breaks and usually do some pushups and some pullups. Due to the physical exertion, I can clear my head for a short time and I feel fresh when I start studying again. A positive side effect: You can also increase your fitness that way. You should still stick to a limited amount of breaks though 😉.

Water

Our body consists of up to 70% of water. A lack of water (even small amounts) can lead to a decline in our cognitive performance and a decrease in our concentration [1]. Because of that you need to ensure that drink enough while studying. If you are thirsty it is actually too late, because the feeling of thirst is actually a warning sign of your body that you have not consumed enough water. If you want to know more about the effects of not drinking enough water, check out my blogpost How important is water for real.

It is best to get into the habit of drinking a glass of water regularly. Place your glass within your arms reach. I would also recommend filling a jug or a large bottle with water and making it available. That way you don’t have to constantly run to the tap.

Distraction

The enemy of every student are the numerous distractions lurking everywhere! Nothing is worse than being disturbed in the middle of an intensive study session. A very prominent example is your own cell phone, which tends to ring when studying, for example to announce new messages. The further your study session progresses and the more your motivation drops, the more likely it is that you’ll give in to the numerous distractions.

Because of that it is important to reduce distractions as much as possible. Place your phone out of range and mute it. Try to retreat to a quiet place where nothing can distract you. If you are studying on a computer, do not connect to the internet (if not absolutely necessary). That way you’ll not tempted to do anything but study. Another great way is to go to a library. It is quite there and you’ll find a lot of students that want to study – A great atmosphere to stay motivation and not get distracted!

What are you doing to stay productive while studying? How do you keep your focus? Let me know in the comments!

References:
[1] Krecar et al. 2014 – The Effects of Drinking Water on Attention

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