A little something about me that some people may not be aware of is that I am working towards a degree in Marketing, and have a year left before finally getting my degree. I work really hard and have a pretty high GPA that I can pat myself on the back for. My classes though are all online, and as a freelance writer I also work from home. This may sound like a dream to some, but I like to break out of that mold once in a while. So heading to a coffee shop for a short study session can be good for a bit, but not the best place to study for me. Over the past couple of years I have found a very specific way that I like to do things. So here are a few things that help me through studying and have gotten me to a point where I am quite proud of my grades.
Whether you’re in high school, college, or an adult who is going back to school after a long hiatus, these tips and tricks might be helpful to you too.
Most study tips will mention that you have a designated study space that you use for studying. This is really important because you want to train your mind to equate that space to peace, quiet and studying. You want it to be an organized desk area (or kitchen table for those who don’t have the space for a desk) and you want it to be comfortable. Not TOO comfortable though because I can’t even count the times that I thought Studying on the couch or bed would be more comfortable and then I just end up falling asleep. If you get too comfortable, you brain will just think it’s nap time. You don’t want that when you are trying to study. Keep the study area clean and organized. I know this is easier for some people than for others, for instance, ME. I tend to have a chaotic mess of textbooks, flashcards, blog post ideas, work tasks and miscellaneous crap I’ve picked up and put down through out my day. Though lately I have been moderately organized on my desk.
I have found that if I try to marathon a cram session with minimal breaks that I end up forgetting a lot of the stuff I went over. Find what works for you, but for the most part I try to stick to a 30 minute studying to a 5 to 10 minute break. The reason for this is that your brain will be able to retain more information this way. I will get up, stretch and act like a dork. If you are like me you will probably look at instagram or tumblr for all the other geek accounts you follow. Sometimes I will just hang out with my cat Arya and relax before jumping right in again. Another thing that is important is WATER. DRINK WATER. I cannot stress this enough. If you are not drinking enough water then your body will not work as well as it should. Headaches and back pain can become a problem if you are not hydrating properly. If you need motivation for this, buy a geeky or pretty water bottle that will capture your attention and remind you to drink. This should be common knowledge but sleep. Sleep the required amount of time. Sleep helps your body rejuvenate itself for the next day. Without sleep your concentration will go to shit. Believe me. If you have trouble sleeping, some things that have helped me in the past is to stop staring at screens at bedtime. Phones AWAY, tablets AWAY, TV OFF. Drink some kind of calming tea. Here in Germany I buy what is called Träum Schön Tee:
It is a wonderful tea to drink to get some calmness going. It contains Chamomile and Lavender among other things and it has really been helpful for me. In the USA there’s the sleepy time tea you can try. If you are having serious problems with sleep though, please seek the help of a medical professional. Last tip for this section is…EAT. I know it is easy to grab junk food and just eat that while studying but try to find healthier alternatives. My go tos are blueberries, raspberries or a mix of nuts and dried cranberries. As far as meals go, do not forget to eat. Your brain and your body need food. Without food, water, and rest you will be completely useless when it comes to studying.
Everyone has certain things that help them when it comes time to actually sit down and crack those text books open. Here are some of the things I do. First read your syllabus and keep track of due dates and exam dates. Put them in a planner or in your calendar whatever it is you use. Keep track and seriously try not to procrastinate. I know it’s easy to get distracted but if you save all of your work till the very last minute believe me, you will feel so overwhelmed, that you will probably cry and live off of red bull for the night. Don’t cause yourself unnecessary stress.
Reading textbooks especially if the subject isn’t exactly your favorite can be daunting. Here’s what I do to help me remember the information and take notes from the text book. First open to the chapter you need to read and first read all of the headlines. Then look towards the end of the chapter and see if there’s a summary and read that. Now you can read the entire chapter. My suggestion is to read it without highlighting or note taking the first time around. I always read through it once, and then go back and make an outline or take notes of all the important information in the readings, or highlight and then take notes, but try not to copy things word for word, you won’t really learn anything that way. Write the notes out in your own words and make sure you actually understand what you’re writing. Flashcards are really important for any terms that you need to know. Use the Quizlet app and website if you prefer to use your phone or tablet as a study tool.
Find something that motivates you to continue. A candy bar if you finish all of your readings? If that’s your thing, sure! Print out motivational quotes or funny pictures to keep you going. One of my absolute favorites is this one:
Oh Gandalf…I Know!! Another thing to check out if you are on tumblr is the Studyblr community on there. Simply type “studyblr” into the search on tumblr and get tons of tips and motivation for your own studies!!
Don’t listen to your favorite band or singer while studying. Believe me it does not go over well. “Collect some stars to shine for you…” SHUT UP IN FLAMES I AM TRYING TO STUDY!! You will end up singing along, or head banging depending on who you are, and that’s not exactly productive. I tend to find soundtracks to listen to, typically I go on spotify and find the music from the Harry Potter movies. I also like to use ambient noise apps or playlists which spotify does have some to have something that isn’t distracting. Recently I found these links to ambient noise mixes that will make you feel like you’re actually at Hogwarts in your house’s common room. I really love the Gryffindor one, it is very calming and keeps me concentrated. To use those go here:
For me the ambient noise works better when I am studying. Music becomes too distracting for me when I am knee deep in economics or whatever else I need to study.
Finally, the best tip I can give you is to take your education seriously. I didn’t go to college right out of high school. I took a couple of classes here and there but at the time I really had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Now I clearly know what I want, and I study and work really hard to reach my goals. Figure out what works best for you but seriously study. When you don’t prepare yourself, you are just throwing yourself into a shit storm.
Don’t be that guy.
So there ya go!! Some tips, I may make a part two and show you my note taking system and such. So to those geeks who have started their school year already or will start it soon, good luck and work hard!! It is worth it in the end, just remember that!
**I did not create any of the GIFs, and it is really hard to find out who did, so if you see this and the GIF is yours, please let me know so I can add credit to them.