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How To Study Hard Without Burning Out

How To Study Hard Without Burning Out

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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