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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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Maggie Heath

Maggie is a passionate writer who blogs about communication and lifestyle on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, 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.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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