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7 Student-Tested Study Hacks That Work

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7 Student-Tested Study Hacks That Work

Do you spend hours studying with less-than-fruitful results? Do you find it hard to memorize specific dates, names, and formulas? Fret not; keep reading to discover seven student-tested, grades-approved study hacks that work.

1. Unconventional Locations

Don’t limit yourself to the comforts of your desk or the silence of the library. Be creative. Some people actually work better in places where a little bit of ambient noise exists, such as a local cafe or the park. Studying outside (especially with flashcards) has also been shown by numerous studies to increase attention span and mood regulation, minimizing feelings of boredom or frustration. Other great places include the bus and waiting in line.

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2. Unconventional Times

Right after school? Just before going to sleep? It may be better to sleep earlier (say, at 10) and wake up earlier, so that the material will be fresh in your memory for the day. In addition to that, it is also a great idea to review notes right after taking them in a class. Revising half an hour into a lunch break is a very effective method — just enough to maximize memory formation, without the afternoon post-consumption grogginess.

3. Stop Highlighting

Highlighting actually hasn’t been shown to increase study rendition. Instead, it potentially creates too much focus upon specific, sometimes unnecessary details. The goal is to understand whole concepts, not simply specific points. A mind map can help a lot in this process, visualizing the connections in between notes. As an alternative, using the color-coding technique is popular — and for a good reason: one color for titles, another one for subtitles, so on and so forth.

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4. Study Actively

Stop reading the textbook. Yes, you read that right. It seems counter-intuitive, but this point is key — especially for memorization. Reading is passive — it does not cement learning. Get an erasable whiteboard and write down as many points that come to memory, such as years of events or mathematical formulas. The repetition of this procedure helps with both short-term and long-term memory; it’s a win-win situation for that information storage. Take notes by summarizing, speaking out the facts, and self-testing yourself — these are all valuable techniques.

5. Water, but Not Just Water

Instead of pure water, try drinking fruit water. Not only is it more aesthetically pleasing, it provides those extra vitamins to keep your brain alert and going throughout the course of the day. Remember: studying is not a sprint — it is a marathon. There are special water bottles with build-in infusers that allow the powerful flavors of the fruit to gradually diffuse, resulting in a refreshing, unique taste. This works best with ice-free, cold water.

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6. Consistency

Aim for quality over quantity, unless, of course, the subject requires a lot of practice with problem-solving (e.g. the sciences). More time spent does not positively correlate with the grade obtained or knowledge cemented into the long-term memory. Aim for routine, not necessarily at the same time chunks everyday, but make an effort to revise consistently — don’t skip a single day. Make sure your notes are legible and well-spaced for easy reading and understanding. Put a sticky note or sticker on parts of your notes that are confusing — it is important to clarify every issue as soon as possible.

7. Using Intuition (With Caution)

Think like a teacher. If certain pieces of information just happen to stand out and make themselves known to you, then there is a very likely chance that it will appear on the test or examination. Most textbooks have a summary section near the end of the chapter, which exist specifically for revision. Even if it is not assigned, doing the extra questions never hurts in the long run. Being over-prepared leads to confidence, but being under-prepared leads to anxiety.

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Now, take out those pens, books, and notebooks. It’s time to study smart — not hard.

Featured photo credit: Wallpapercave via wallpapercave.com

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Lily Yuan

Full-Time Student

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Last Updated on October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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