Organized Charm: 4 Rules for Effective Studying

Monday, May 5, 2014

4 Rules for Effective Studying

Finals are coming! Are you ready? This is the time of year when we see start to see a bunch of hilarious memes, read a bunch of panicked tweets, and basically just do all that we can to make it to the end of the semester with our sanity still (sort of) enact.  Last semester’s finals really, really nearly killed me. I cried. I panicked. I cried some more. I stayed up till midnight. Do you know what I wish I had known?

This. I wish I had known all of this:

Now, I’m not a crazy person. I know that you looked at the length of that video and immediately glossed right over it. I know you don’t have any ambition to watch an hour-long lecture because:

a.) you’re busy and b.) it’s an hour long lecture.

Sooooo, I watched it for you! And let me tell you, it was totally worth it because this guy has some great rules for how to study less and study smart!

RULE 1: Break up study time

Most of us have a focus time of about 20-30 minutes. Every person is a little bit different so, as soon as you feel yourself starting to lose momentum, STOP! Go do something you enjoy for 5 minutes! Get up. Walk around. Go stand in the sunlight. Only for 5 minutes, though! After you’ve taken this time to “recharge” your efficiency is nearly filled up to 100% again and you’re ready for Round 2!

And don’t forget to plan to do something special when you finish your studying! A glass of wine, an episode of your favorite show, an Instagram binge. Whatever you know you’ll look forward to doing! This will reinforce your good study habits!

RULE 2: Create a study space

Obviously, we can’t all have a personal office for studying. But try to find (or create!) a quiet place to work! This is preferably a place with no distractions (like food, entertainment, or a bed). We are controlled by our environmental queues whether we realize it or not! So when you’re looking at your bed, you’re going to want to get in it! When you’re working in your kitchen, you’re going to want a snack.

If you do have to study in a bedroom/kitchen/living room, try to turn your back to the thing that will distract you the most! Another way to stay focused is to create a "study lamp”. This is literally a little table lamp that you use ONLY for when you’re studying! When you sit down with your book, turn it on. When you get up 20/30 minutes later to take a break, turn it off! Do not use it for anything else!

RULE 3: Form a study group

The only thing more annoying than trying to get through finals yourself is hearing people (who aren’t in school) complaining about all the people complaining about finals. Try to become friends with a couple of people in your class! It’s always nice to have other people who understand what you’re going through.

Plus, did you know that others can help you learn when they’re close to where you are in learning? This is why sometimes your classmates can explain something to you better than a teacher can. The teacher knows it so well that some things may be obvious to him/her. However, if you have a classmate who just grasped the concept, they may know what’s holding you back!

RULE 4: Attach Meaning to Material

Ask yourself what am I learning? Is it a concept or a fact? Concepts stick with you. Facts easily get mixed up. Make the material meaningful to you. Try to attach stories and examples to the different concepts that you are learning! Remember that if you can reexplain it to yourself without looking, you know it!

Also, make sure that you’re sleeping enough. Because if you don’t sleep enough, your brain won’t store all that information accurately. We all have 168 hours in a week, you’re responsible for how you use them!

I hope these tips can help you out with your Finals’ Week!
Most of all, just focus on one thing at a time and know that you can get it done! :) 

How are you preparing for finals? What strategies work best for you? Where do you study best? 

(And seriously, if you find the time, watch as much of that video as you can, even if it’s just the first 5-10 minutes. I promise you will get something out of it!)
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