Much like everyone has their own learning style, success style, and work style, we all study best in different ways. Some people cannot focus at home, and others prefer to work outside. The truth is there is no one way to study, and even if you have a method that works for you, it’s best to mix it up every now and then. Studies show when it comes to studying, variety improves retention and recollection. Changing up how, when, and where you study can keep you focused and help you study more effectively.
Looking to spice up your study habits? Check out these positive tips to help improve productivity, process information better, and remember facts more easily!
- Vary your study locations: Changing up where you study keeps things fresh, helps you focus, and improves retention. Instead of spending hours in one place, move around to different rooms. Try going to a café or the library. It is good, however, to study in a familiar place, so when you do vary your study locations, choose places you know, and frequent those places consistently.
- Take lots of breaks: Studies show “cramming” hinders retention and makes it difficult to process information. Instead of studying for a long block of time, break it into shorter sessions with frequent breaks in between to refresh and refocus.
- Snack healthily: There’s a reason it’s called “brain food”! Healthy snacks like fruits and nuts, and well-rounded meals are better for your body and high in energy, which helps improve cognitive function. Snack often, perhaps during your study breaks while you switch up your location.
- Chew gum: According to scientists, the act of chewing stimulates your mind and keeps you focused. Chewing gum while studying can give your brain a much needed boost.
- Take a walk: On one of your periodic study breaks, instead of going on Facebook or taking a short nap, go for a walk. Try some quick fitness routines. Keeping your body physically active will keep your mind stimulated.
- Study before bed: It’s widely known that a full-night’s sleep is important to overall brain function and improves memory. Studies also suggest studying before bed helps you process and absorb information more thoroughly. Try studying the most difficult material before sleep (but not when you’re too tired that you fall asleep studying), and avoid all-nighters (especially the night before the test) because this prevents you from properly retaining information.
- Recopy your notes: You should take notes during classes and as you’re studying, but actually rewriting these notes afterwards reinforces the information in your mind. Don’t type your notes—writing them by hand forces you to focus more closely on what you’re writing, and if you used shorthand the first time, write everything out so it’s clearer when you reread your notes.
- Write in different colored ink: Varied colors are good for visual memory, so using different colored sticky notes, index cards, and other visual aids is good for studying. However, you can also study effectively by writing your notes in different colors. This helps break up information and make your notes more visually stimulating. Also, put the highlighter away! Studies show that highlighting can have the opposite effect.
- Use apps or programs to avoid distractions: Do you find yourself drifting towards Facebook, your emails, and other digital distractions? There’s an app for that! Some websites, tools, and apps will block certain sites from your devices for a period of time. Check out some of these great ways to unplug and avoid the sites that keep you from focusing.
- Listen to low, classical music: Many people say that listening music helps them study better. Loud music with fast, multilayered melodies can, however, detract from your focus. If listening to music, choose an instrumental piece—something classical or jazz—and play it lowly in the background so it does not interfere with your work.
As a student working full-time, balancing your career and your classes can sometimes seem like a juggling act. To succeed academically, it is important to devote time specifically to studying. With everything else you have to do, the last thing you want is for studying to become rote or tedious. Nobody said studying had to be boring!