Advertising
Advertising

5 Tips to Improve Your Study Habits

5 Tips to Improve Your Study Habits

Whether you’re having trouble because your subject is difficult, time consuming or – let’s be honest – boring we have some tips here that can help you improve your studying habits. Keep reading for 5 ways you can study smarter from Kristopher Quaioit over at Bright Brain Learning:

Feel like you’re working hard but still can’t reach your study goals? Here are some quick tips to help you make the most out of study time.

Advertising

1. Study with a partner or in groups, and peer teach.

Rather than living in a cave with your nose in the books all day, grab a friend from your class and study with them. Group studying helps you to engage and process the information more deeply. Of course, it means more than just carpooling to the library and studying with your headphones on. Have fun with it. Play charades guessing the characters of The Great Gatsby. Draw a picture of your modern interpretation of the Boston Tea Party. Race to solve an algebra problem first and discuss it afterwards. You can also divide the class topics and take turns teaching them as creatively as you like. Sometimes the best way to learn something is to teach it, even if you haven’t mastered it yet. Actively engaging the information with someone else not only helps you to learn, but makes studying more enjoyable. Just avoid turning your sessions into social hour.

2. Step into your teacher’s shoes.

Ask yourself “If I am the teacher, what would I put on the test?” You have probably experienced a few of your teacher’s tests and quizzes by now. Learn from them for the next test. The structure is usually the same, and teachers have specific types of information that they want you to learn. Remember, teachers don’t expect you to memorize every single detail, just the ones they feel is important. It’s your job to figure out what that is. And not everything is important. Don’t be that student who turns a stack of notes into a highlighter coloring book. If in doubt, by all means, ask your teacher.

Advertising

3. Paint bigger pictures.

Find ways to connect what you are learning to real life or to other related concepts. It’s harder to remember each piece of a puzzle individually than it is to recall the completed picture. Find ways to relate pieces of information to each other and cluster them.Try this exercise: memorize these numbers in order.6…….2…….9…….1…….3…….8…….4…….0…….5

Now try to memorize these numbers 629….138….405

Advertising

The bottom is easier right? It is the same order of numbers, but put into the context of bigger numbers. Creating context gives information meaning and also turns learning into an experience rather than simple absorption.

4. Feed your brain.

A hungry brain is an ineffective one. Those Snickers commercials were not kidding. Your brain needs the proper nutrients to keep it going. Because of this, what you eat and drink also play a huge role in how sharp your brain is. Healthy foods provide nutrients to your brain cells to keep them energized; junk foods increase fatigue and tend to lead to the infamous food coma. So ditch the bag of fried potato chips for a healthy snack bar and a yogurt.Don’t forget the H20. Hydration is equally important. Your brain cells need water to function properly and increase their efficiency. Staying hydrated is known to combat anxiety and increase short-term and long-term memory function.

Advertising

No need to break your piggy bank to buy that bottle of high-end water. You can turn any bottle of H20 into “Smart Water” by simply drinking it.

5. Take breaks.

Your brain is like a muscle. It needs exercise to make it stronger, but it can also tire if you overwork it. Imagine that each minute of studying is a push-up and you have to complete 100. If you try to do them all at once, you’ll fatigue to the point where you can’t continue. Essentially you burn out and, despite how hard you try to push, you can’t get your chest off the ground. Your brain is no different. You can try to pound the information in after studying non-stop for an hour, but learn little. On the contrary, if you divide the 100 push-ups into 10 sets, taking a 2-minute break in between, completing 100 is not that bad. If you divide studying into 15-30 minute blocks with quick breaks in between, your brain will feel refreshed, grateful and ready for the next challenge you throw at it.

 5 Tips to Study Smarter | Bright Brain Learning

More by this author

Siobhan Harmer

Siobhan is a passionate writer sharing about motivation and happiness tips on Lifehack.

This Chart Shows You Where And Why Emotional Pain Becomes Physical Discomfort 30 Brilliant Camping Hacks I Wish I Knew Earlier 20 Fascinating Webcams You Can Watch Online Right Now 8 Ways To Stop Emotional Manipulation 30 Of The World’s Most Breathtaking Hiking Trails You Must Visit

Trending in Productivity

1 The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain) 2 What to Do When Bored at Work (And Why You Feel Bored Actually) 3 6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills 4 How to Concentrate and Focus Better to Boost Productivity 5 15 Productive Things to Do When Bored (So Time Is Not Wasted)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

Advertising

Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

Advertising

One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

Advertising

But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

Advertising

It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

More About Goals Setting

Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next