Let’s face it: studying is hard. It’s not fun, and sometimes it can be really hard to stay focused on the task at hand. However, it’s vital to doing well in classes and staying well-informed. Although studying is no one’s favorite activity, there are ways to study more efficiently. Here are six tips on studying hard while maintaining your focus.

1. Schedule it.

Don’t just assume that you’ll study when you have free time. What ends up happening is that often, you won’t end up studying at all because you didn’t leave room specifically for it. Find a time of day that works best for you and stick with it. Chances are, the more you associate this time of day with studying, the more focused you’ll be over time.

2. Get in the zone.

If listening to music is a must for you, put some headphones in while studying. Others find complete quiet to be more their taste. Some people like to get comfortable in sweatpants, while others may prefer to stay fully dressed in order to stay as awake as possible. Coffee or tea may be a good option for maximum alertness, but go easy on the caffeine to avoid the inevitable crash. By making yourself comfortable and focused, you’re more likely to get into a studying mood. Getting in the zone helps you concentrate and power through long study sessions with ease.

3. Gather your materials.

Books, notes, laptop, paper, highlighters, pens, snacks—get everything in one place. Make sure you don’t have to get up and gather more things as the study session progresses. That will just disrupt your focus and make getting back in the zone harder once you return. Try to get everything in one place to ensure that there will be a minimum of unnecessary interruptions.

4. Schedule small breaks.

Even the most studious of us gets tired and achey after a while. All that reading and hunching over a book or computer can be mentally and physically exhausting. Set an alarm or reminder to take small breaks during marathon study sessions. Stand up, stretch, jog in place, get a drink of water. Make sure that the break isn’t too long, though, or else your focus could disappear completely. The goal with these small breaks is to ensure that you don’t burn out and come back to your studying feeling refreshed and ready to continue.

5. Be an active learner.

Passively learning involves simply taking notes, reading, and not critically evaluating the information presented. Active learning, on the other hand, involves discussion and analysis. The active style of learning can help make sure you understand the material completely, and it also makes the information stick in your brain. Consider studying with others and having a discussion about the material instead of simply sitting at a desk and reading. Varying your study habits like this will also ensure that you’ll study harder and for a longer period of time. Doing one task for too long can cause you to burn out.

6. Find your study spot.

Libraries and coffee shops are popular study spots, as are bedrooms and study areas in academic buildings. Pick your study spot based on your level of distract-ability. For example, don’t choose to study in a coffee shop if you’re likely to look up every time someone enters the establishment or walks past you. It’s also important to pick somewhere where it is easy to get physically comfortable. If you love the library at your school, but the chairs are uncomfortable, consider studying somewhere else. You don’t want to be distracted by uncomfortable seating, bad lighting, or too-loud noises.

Featured photo credit: Svein Halvor Halvorsen via flickr.com

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