You may be familiar with the poignant phrase, “Work smarter, not harder.” Now, this could mean plenty of different things, but when you’re a student and you’re crunched for time – this only means one thing: BE PRODUCTIVE! One of the major roadblocks of university students is that they often find themselves wasting time. They carry their bad habits from high school into college, and never shake it off. College is a different beast altogether, and should be treated in such a way in order to not get blindsided by all of your homework and studying.
But just as anything is with learning, it should be catered to the way you learn best. Some tips may work for you, whereas some others may not. Just try it out and experiment and see what sticks and what doesn’t. We’ve got the right moves you should be making and the best decisions you’ll be taking in order to stay ahead of the curve.
Get Your Stuff Together
One thing that is universal for success is organization. Not everyone organizes in the same way, but as long as you know where things are and know where to go for something, you’ll make your life ten times easier. Organizing means to keep your head straight and not waste your time looking for things you’ve misplaced or forgotten. Need to keep a website in mind? Bookmark it and label it. Have important documents and PDFs? Save it and keep it in a separate folder. Setting up multiple meetings with friends and professors for office hours? Write your schedule down. Whatever it is, remembering it is important and staying on top of things will make your studying a lot more efficient.
Don’t Work Long, Sleepless Hours
A common misconception is that you need to pull all-nighters to pass your test. University students only pull all-nighters because they weren’t organized or prepared and have no other options. Studies and research shows that studying for six, seven, or even 8 hours straight is not the best way to remember and study information. Instead, studying and taking breaks in short intervals is proven to improve your memory on the subjects you’ve learned as well as your motor for working. Space out your study times so you can relax in between – and be more efficient with your learning.
Make a Schedule
On top of not working long hours overnight, your study schedule and habits should be organized to maximize your efficiency. Don’t work too long – maybe set aside 1-2 hours of study time, and then breaks in between. If 1-2 hours is too little and you can push yourself more, make sure to take a longer break in between your study sessions. This also helps you avoid procrastination, as you’ve already set aside your time to do that after studying.
If you’ve got deadlines, making a schedule and sticking to it will also give you enough time to finish your projects before then. As long as you stay disciplined and on schedule, you’ll be able to make the most out of your 1-2 hour study sessions.
Write Down Your Roadblocks
Having questions is a normal part of studying, and instead of ripping your hair out and stopping everything you are doing to figure this problem out, you should write it down and figure it out later. Annotating your textbooks and your notes is important as well. It helps you take a look at what you’ve studied and makes you analyze it. This is a very useful study tip to make sure that you’re thoroughly understanding the topic and build your critical thinking skills. Each time you solve a question, you add to your repertoire of knowledge.
Make your Studying Active
Reading isn’t the end-all-be-all of studying and is probably not the most exciting way to study. If you find ways to make studying engaging, the more memorable it will be, and the more effective each hour of studying productive. Some methods of remembering things is to make it relatable to your life – in some way. It’s a technique people use to remember important information, and it makes the information you’re reading a bit more exciting. Rather than reading all of your notes and books, you should also annotate and analyze that information and get hands on with your studying.
Find the Right Environment
Study habits determine how well and efficient you study – being productive means to have good study habits. But they are only as good as you make it – your environment is just as important. Having distractions decreases efficiency and productivity, so it’s best to find an environment that limits those distractions. Libraries and cafes are good to study in because they also will have people who are busy at work – so you’ll also feel motivated to study. But you should also think about comfort. If you’re comfortable studying at home in sweatpants and an oversized hoodie, maybe find a space at home that you can cozy up to and sprawl out and study. Sometimes white noise is also good for studying, complete silence might make you go crazy. Just remember – the idea is for you to be comfortable enough to study.
Working hard is an ordeal, but one of the best ways to feel good about it is to reward yourself. Whether it’s an hour of doing absolutely nothing, or buying yourself something nice, its a great motivator for you to study. But remember to study smarter – and not harder. You’ll still need to find ways to be efficient and make the most of your time.
Balance Your Life
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. If you spend a lot of your time just studying, you’ll start to feel burnout. Your university days are important in your life, and it’s best not to spend it all just studying. There should be a healthy balance of work and play, enough to make it worth it in the end. To study productively, your mind should be as stress-free as possible.
Being productive is tough work and it’s easy to get sidetracked. But if you’re diligent enough, studying should be a breeze and you shouldn’t have to pull 5 or 6-hour all-nighters to get the work done. Stick to what works for you and experiment a little. Make the most of your time and stop procrastinating!