Studying. Does anyone really enjoy hearing this word? I think about the wasted hours staring at a paper. I think about sitting in an uncomfortable desk chair trying to cram a bunch of facts into my brain that will be forgotten after a test. Unfortunately, studying isn’t going to go away, so better to just get good at it than try to avoid it. Developing successful study tactics for yourself are so important for school. Below are my top five study tactics I have been using since I can remember to ensure a successful school year.
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Study Space- Location
While it may not seem like it, your studying location is just as, if not more important than the actual time you study. As corny as it sounds, “good vibes” at a study space is so much more important than you think. A good environment will not only stimulate the brain, it will make you actually want to study.
Using the same spot over and over again will also trigger your brain to better associate that location with studying. That way, when you sit down in your desk chair, your brain “knows” it’s time to start working. This same concept also goes for doing homework.
That being said, this is not to say that you should only ever study and do homework in one spot. In my life, I have a desk in my bedroom where I do the majority of my schoolwork, but also venture to other places once in a while for a change of scenery. Doing so, I know it is time to do my work when I sit at my desk, but also prevent myself from getting bored of this spot.
Study Space- Decoration
Piggy-backing on my last tip, once you determine a location for your study space, the next step is to decorate it, which is the fun part. It might not seem like it, but enhancing a study space is one of the most important study tactics you are going to learn. When doing this, you want to consider four of your senses: sight, sound, smell, and taste.
Your desk or study location should make you actually want to study, not feel like you are obligated to do so. On my desk, I have a big pot of flowers and cute desk supply organization items. I also have my desk located in front of a window, so I have plenty of natural light. This may have been one of the best ideas I had when redecorating my room. I also love having a cute speaker on my desk when doing my work.
Right next to my desk, I added a super cute letter board that hangs on the wall. I love using all my favorite message board quotes to keep me feeling motivated and inspired!
Depending on the person and the type of work being done, different sounds should be considered. I find it extremely helpful to listen to white noise when studying and doing homework (other than reading). Doing so makes the time go faster and feel less stifling. Another option, if it doesn’t hinder your concentration, is to listen to light music. When doing tasks that require less concentration, I love to listen to the instrumental versions of my favorite songs (I do this when writing most of these articles).
Smell & Taste
Just like your brain associates the act of studying with a location, it does the same with smells and tastes. This could mean that you eat the same snack every time you study. Not only that, but a nice smelling study space makes the location more inviting to be in for hours if necessary.
Another super important way to encourage yourself to study is to do so with the supplies you use. My sophomore year, I got a planner to try out and absolutely fell in love. Most of my organization and productivity throughout the year can be attributed to this planner. That being said, it is so important to find supplies that truly make you want to use them. That also goes for colorful pens and highlighters, if these are something that interests you. I will share the school supplies I have come to love and depend on in a future article, stay tuned!
I cannot even count the amount of hours I have stared at a white paper with black ink and remembered nothing but how bored I was at that moment. The quality of your notes will directly reflect your success in a class. My favorite things to use to spruce up boring notes are colorful pens. I use a different color for each class and write with a combination of colored pens and pencil. Colorful pens and highlighters make it so much more encouraging to study and even helps to remember the information better. You can do the same thing online as well. Try using different font styles, sizes, and colors!
Two catches with this though. If your teacher doesn’t allow colored notes, there are of course other ways around this while still getting high quality notes. Utilizing different fonts for titles, as well as banners and highlighters will also have the same effect. The other catch: What if your teacher talks too fast to switch pen colors and take neat notes? This was the case in many of my classes. With fast-paced teachers and classes, the best way to do this is to take messy notes with pencil in class. Then whenever you get a chance, rewrite all of the notes, using all the pen colors you’d like. This also doubles as a studying tactic (rewriting notes) and helps you better remember the information. You can do this step either immediately after the class or prior to a test.
study in Time Increments
The fifth and final trick is the amount of time you actually spend studying. Of all of my tips, this one might be one of my most important study tactics. Now, there have been dozens of scientific studies about how long you should do schoolwork at one given time. I am not an expert in this area, but I am just sharing what works for me.
When I have extended periods of studying, I typically set a timer for a 25-minute work period, followed by a 5-minute break period, and then repeat as needed. I have tried multiple different time increments and found this to be the most productive. In the working period, I feel it is an adequate amount of time to make progress without becoming overly strained and tired. The 5-minutes in between these working periods works great to restart your brain and prepare for another 25-minutes.
Another important note to consider with this is to never stop when you are on a roll. If you are in the middle of a math problem or writing a sentence, do not stop just because the 25 minutes are over. Finish what you are doing before starting your break period. Remember, also, to try to stick to this timing. Even if you feel you can skip a break period, take it anyway. It will better stimulate your brain and result in a higher quality of work in the next 25 minutes.
Of course, you should try out different time increments if these do not work for you personally. Just remember to stick to a good working-to-break ratio. In this case, I am taking a 1 minute break for every 5 minutes of work.
I hope these study tactics help you conquer the school day! If you liked this article, check out my My Color Coded Class System for more school tips!