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7 Student-Tested Study Hacks That Work

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 15, 2018

How to Calm Down When You Are Overwhelmed: 7 Quick Ways to Try

How to Calm Down When You Are Overwhelmed: 7 Quick Ways to Try

Do you sometimes feel that you add items to your to-do list faster than you tick them off? Do you spend most of your day worrying about your lack of time?

The truth is, no matter how much we love our job, or how productive we believe we are under stress, there comes a moment when the pressure rises above boiling point. The sheer number of urgent tasks multiplies in a geometric progression. New possibilities no longer sound inspiring, they sound overwhelming and equal more work.

If that’s where you are right now – keep reading! If not, it doesn’t mean you should wait until you get there to learn how to cope with a demanding work schedule and how to calm yourself down quickly when you feel overwhelmed.

Here are 7 quick and easy tips on how to calm down when you are overwhelmed:

1. Let go of a few activities

Yes, it’s that easy! Take a look at your to-do list and ask yourself, “If I don’t do it today, will it matter a month from now?”

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Not every urgent task is important. Just like not every important, high pay-off task is urgent. The best way to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed and to manage your time is to know the difference between the two and learn to simplify your life by getting your to-do list down to three big tasks.

2. Take deep breaths to calm down

This advice sounds so simple it’s often overlooked. But it works better (and faster) than any other relaxation technique out there.

There is a direct connection between our emotional state and breathing. An anxious, frustrated or overwhelmed person breathes as if they have just finished running a marathon. A calm person breathes differently. Their breathing is deep, slow and steady. So when you have a panic attack, the best way to bring your heart rate down and to regain your cool is to change your breathing.

Try this now:

Take a slow, long deep breath in, filling your lungs with air and expanding your diaphragm. Hold your breath for four counts and then slowly release the air through your mouth. Repeat four times and notice frustration and the feeling of being overwhelmed dissolve with each long exhale of these calming breaths.

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3. Make “Just one thing” your mantra

When we feel overwhelmed by the amount of tasks on our to-do list, it’s easy to enter the ‘deer in the headlights’ state. You see deadlines approaching directly towards you, and you know that something has to be done about them, but you just don’t know where to start.

The best way to get your mind out of an ‘inactivity trance’ is to create momentum. This is what makes the “Just one thing” mantra so powerful. It helps to change our expectation that everything has to be completed right now, “or else.”

Next time you feel overwhelmed make grabbing a cup of coffee your “Just one thing.” You can do it, right? Then come back, pick one of the smallest tasks on your to-do list and tell yourself you’ll do just that one task. This is your next “Just one thing” that you will concentrate on until it’s complete. After that you can move on to the next task and so on.

It’s not “One thing at a time.” Saying this implies that there is a huge line of other tasks waiting to get done and that’s not the message you want to keep repeating to yourself. Learn how to focus here and stop getting overwhelmed.

4. Reduce the multi-tasking and multi-thinking

It’s been proven that multi-tasking is very inefficient, to the point of dumbing us down (more than smoking marijuana does). The same is true for multi-thinking, when your mind frantically jumps from one thought to another, trying to focus on and analyze several things all at once.

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Fortunately, there is help. A few minutes of meditation or brainwave music is all it takes to start feeling more relaxed, more creative and less overwhelmed.

5. Get moving

Any exercise you engage in – be it walking or dancing to your favorite beat – helps to release endorphins, the ‘feel-good’ hormones, through your body and to clear your mind.

Staying active also increases your productivity, enhances your ability to combat stress and anxiety. It also helps you to release the tension, boosting your mood and changing the thoughts that induce the sense of being overwhelmed.

The best part is you don’t have to spend hours in the gym to get the mind-soothing benefits of exercise. Even as little as 15 minutes of dancing or jogging can go a long way towards making you feel better and staying calmer.

6. Change your surroundings

We all need and deserve to take vacations from work woes and family responsibilities. Unfortunately, spending two weeks lazing on a beach, toes in the sand and a Mojito in hand, is not always an option. However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t take short ‘vacations’ from work stress and the technology buzz.

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Go outside for a few minutes and enjoy the sunshine. Stop at a park instead of driving straight home from work. Sometimes changing your surroundings and ‘spicing up your routine’ is all it takes to change your perspective on things and find creative solutions to seemingly complex and overwhelming problems.

7. Get some pet therapy

Studies have shown what most of us already guessed – our pets can be a great help during stressful moments. Simple actions such as petting or playing with your dog or cat can lower high blood pressure, boost your immune system and boost your mood.

Besides, pets can make the best conversation partners to share your frustrations with. They listen, they love you unconditionally and they never talk back or say, “I told you so.”

Final thoughts

Don’t wait for stress to hit you to start practicing these quick ways to calm down when you are overwhelmed. The best way to enjoy a worry-free life is not to push yourself to the limit of being overwhelmed and frustrated.

Featured photo credit: Dardan via unsplash.com

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