Going into your education with the right mindset is the first step to a successful life.
But if you aren’t sure what study habits can help you succeed, how do you know to use them?
Most people study one of two ways:
They plan out their exams and projects, or they cram for them.
The habits you develop now can follow you into your professional life in the future. Procrastination and cramming are surefire ways to boost your stress, not your success.
Instead of waiting until the last second or approaching your studying in a disorganized way, try to develop good study habits. Experts highly suggest these seven tips as the best way to help students get ahead academically and in life!
1. Make a Schedule and Stick to It
Yes, things come up occasionally. You may have to juggle your to-do list, and studying will have to take a backseat when there’s something urgent to do.
But if you have a schedule planned out for when you’re going to do schoolwork, it’s easier to work around your study time.
Having a set schedule helps others know when you’re available and when to leave you alone, too. If you tell them you’re free during a certain time on specific days, it’s easy for them to plan to talk to you then.
This is the first crucial step in setting boundaries, a skill that will benefit you in infinite ways in your life.
2. Organize Your Study Life
You know the feeling you get when you need something, you know you have it, but you can’t find it?
You tear the room apart, looking for it, and your adrenaline is pumping as you get upset.
This is not an ideal way to start a study session. When your books are a mess, and you’re unsure what’s where — you’re already stressed.
Trying to study in a chaotic environment makes it even harder for your mind to focus. Your brain processes everything it sees, regardless of whether you’re paying attention to it or not.
The clutter in your study area is wearing your mind out before you open a book. Take some time to get organized, and then start focusing on your coursework. It will make learning much easier in the long run!
3. Set a Timer and Move
You might think that forcing yourself to “study” for a set time is a good thing, but how much are you retaining?
The longer you sit still, the less you’re actually absorbing.
This research-based fact is why a lot of experts recommend that you study in chunks. Retaining information becomes more difficult after 25-30 minutes. Taking a break and stretching every half-hour gets you further than sitting for hours and staring at the page of your textbook.
Use your phone’s timer to remind you to get up and active, or try a study method like the Pomodoro Technique. It’s a time management strategy that teaches you how to maximize working in chunks with small breaks in between.
The trick is to use those little breaks to get active and reset your brain. Avoid the temptation to scroll mindlessly on social media or check your emails. Get up and get moving!
4. Have a Goal for Your Study Session
Randomly studying for all your classes in one session will give you some information, but not much. It’s like going a mile wide and an inch deep. You don’t get too far.
Instead, plan out a goal for your week’s study sessions. Use a calendar to mark important exams and project due dates.
When you set goals ahead of time for what you need to work on in the next session, you can prepare better. It also lets you think about what else you need to do that you didn’t plan for in the upcoming session.
For instance, say you have a math quiz you just found out about that you’ll have to study for. But you already devoted your next study session to a massive project that you need to complete, too. Now you know that you’ll need to squeeze some math quiz studying in between your other responsibilities.
5. Limit Distractions
It’s so easy to get distracted if you aren’t setting those boundaries we talked about earlier. The sooner you create a schedule, the faster you can proactively limit your distractions.
Let your friends and family know when it’s study time. Turn your phone on silent and put it out of reach (except when using it as a timer).
Need a calculator?
Get one that’s not attached to an electronic device.
Need to research on the computer?
Set an app blocker up to limit the sites you’re allowed to access during your study time.
Finally, find a quiet place to work where you can work without distractions. You may have to think outside the box. Ask a teacher you feel comfortable with if they know any hidden study spot. Use the corner table at a local coffee shop if you have to.
6. Hit the Hard Stuff First
It’s tempting for most people to save the hard stuff for last and conquer the quick and easy things when they start. But as one expert technique for success says, you should “Eat That Frog” and get it over with.
You don’t have to pull out an amphibian to do this. It simply means that you get the hard stuff done first.
There are a few reasons why this works. First, your brain is fresh and ready to tackle the problematic concepts or things you don’t want to do. Second, everything else seems easier after you’ve “eaten the frog.”
Go ahead and knock out the hard stuff. The rest is cake!
7. Rest, Relax, and Have Fun
Highly effective students know that studying all the time is unhealthy. You need to invest time into resting and relaxation, too.
Schedule time each week dedicated to solely having fun, not schoolwork.
Time management guru Franklin Covey calls this “sharpening the saw.” The success behind his multi-billion dollar book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” proves it works.
Add some time into your schedule to focus on your physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual health. This holistic approach to studying will ensure you’re on the path to life success, not just good study habits.
When you’re building study habits the right way, you’re effectively creating the skills you’ll use in life for success. These seven tips will teach you how to succeed in your education and get ahead in every area you tackle!
Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with The Urban to help them with their online marketing.