Updated: Mar 22, 2020
Studying is hard. It's not very fun and takes up a lot of time and effort. You might be studying for hours only to realize that you’re receiving the same test scores as your friends who didn’t put in much effort. So how? How do you study more efficiently, use less time, and achieve more? How do you stand out without burning out 🔥? Here are 5 ways to do just that.
1. Pseudo-work vs Deep Work 📲
Pseudo-work is a method of studying that I used to follow before realizing how ineffective it was. The term "Pseudo-work" defines work done with many distractions. Here, I will use my friends Bob and Bill to explain.
Let's look at Bill. He says he studies for long hours, but how? Bill here is a Pseudo-worker. He studies with the TV droning on in the background, social media tabs open on his laptop, his phone right next to him which is blowing up with messages. He thinks he is focused, but unfortunately, that's not how the brain works. Studies show that it is almost impossible for the brain to stay focused when there are other things going on. The brain uses concentration to register the noise itself, let alone trying to resist the temptation of checking your messages.
Bob, on the other hand, is a Deep Worker. He studies with his full focus on his task at hand. He is in an environment where there is nothing but his study material, and therefore, he understands the material and retains it. Which type of worker are you?
2. Where? When? How long? ❓
In order for your studying to bear fruit, you need to know where you'll study, when, and for how long. You are lucky because the answer is right here. 😃
Where? Study in isolation, away from distractions. Keep your phone on airplane mode. Your one and only focus should be on your study material. If you feel distracted by social media, set a time limit for your homework; that way, you will be motivated to finish instead of piling your homework up for a "later date" that might never come.
When? Early. The later it is in the day, the more tired you'll be. There is less of a chance that you will study efficiently.
How long? You should study for 50 minutes, with a 10-minute break. The break is just as important as studying. And no, the break is not for texting or surfing the Internet. Walk around a bit, stretch, and do your business before sitting down again for another round of work.
3. Schedule it.📅
The worst time to study is when you "get time", because you most likely won’t spend it productively. In the end, you’ll probably study the day before your exam. So, write a schedule! If you know you have a biology quiz every Wednesday, mark your calendars. If your teacher tells you to expect a quiz next week, write it down! You don't want to be in the "Just found out about the test tomorrow" category 😬. First, you need to know what you are doing and when. Then, you can take action.
4. Quiz and Recall 📝
You need to study like you will teach it. No, I'm not kidding. Instead of reading your notes thousands of times quietly to yourself, here is what you should do. Go over your notes once or twice. Then, put them under a large book so you can't access them easily. Now, explain them to your imaginary "students". The first time I did this, my mom came up to my room and asked me if I was okay. I said I had a magnificent tutor who was teaching me the material. A week later, I got my quiz results and when my mom saw, she told me my "tutor" had done an excellent job 💖. Remember the golden rule. Don't memorize, Understand. When you "teach" the material, do it in your own words, not from the words of your teachers. Teaching someone or lecturing out loud is a great way to understand your test material.
5. Start Early ⏰
Assignments. They are monotonous and it’s hard to get a good grade. Only, what if they actually aren’t so hard? The only way to stop bombing assignments is to start your assignments/projects early and work on them often. You should start early, preferably the day you get them, so you don’t keep pushing them for a later date. Start when the information is fresh in your mind and so you clearly remember the teacher’s explanation of the project. Do small chunks of the assignment daily, and in full detail. Lastly, set an arbitrary deadline and use those small deadlines to finish before that deadline. In the end, you don’t want to present your teacher with a bad assignment, though it is finished. It has to be done, and well done 👏.
Hopefully, this article has shed some light on your study habits, and pushed you in the right direction.
***If you have reached the end of this article by skimming through, here are the 5 tips in summary***
->Study hard and with full focus instead of reading your notes absentmindedly with a side of distractions.
->Study in isolation, early, and in 50 minute periods with a 10-minute break.
->Schedule your tests, quizzes, and assignments so as the date nears you can approach the deadline confidently.
->Learn information as if you were going to teach it, and don’t memorize, understand.
Start assignments early and complete them in small chunks.
Comment if you follow any of these tips already. How are they working for you?