by Natalia Radcliffe
It’s that time of year again. Time to dig out the backpack from the back of the closet, sharpen those pencils dulled from neglect of use and prepare once again for fall.
Welcome back to school.
For most, the first few weeks back can be a challenging time as, once again, the brain has to awake and a routine has to be established.It is easy to live in the blissful ignorance of the first few weeks when homework is minimal and deadlines are far away. What is the use of getting ahead, anyway? You have months to accomplish everything.
Then the rose-colored glasses fade, and you realize the mistake of taking it easy during those first few weeks as work piles up and you wonder how it caught up to you so fast. Your days slowly turn into endless hours of studying as you desperately try to keep your head above the waters of deadlines, homework and tests.
Luckily, there are ways to escape this fate.
Practicing effective study habits is one way. The perspective you have on studying and the way you study can either help or hinder.
Dr. John Grohol, the founder and editor of the website Psych Central with a Master’s degree and doctorate in clinical psychology, has some suggestions for effective study habits in his article titled “10 Highly Effective Study Habits,” found on psychcentral.com.
In a nutshell, effective and good studying is all about how you approach it and what you do while studying. The first two habits deal with the mindset a person has when approaching studying.
“Being in the right mindset is important in order to study smarter,” Grohol explained. To put it another way, having a positive, encouraging perspective allows you to make the most of your time while studying. Grohol lists some tips that can help with getting into an efficient mindset for studying, including to “aim to think positively when you study, … avoid catastrophic thinking, … avoid absolute thinking, … and avoid comparing yourself to others.”
The location in which you study is also important in getting into the right mindset for studying. Choosing a quite area that gives you the least amount of opportunity to become distracted will enable more accomplishment in a shorter amount of time. “The library, a nook in a student lounge or study hall, or a quiet coffee house are good places to check out,” said Grohol.
The next six habits specify efficient ways to do the actual studying.
Grohol recommends not bringing anything more than what is absolutely necessary. For example, if you don’t need your computer, then don’t bring it as it could be too much of a distraction. Your phone is another tool that you should limit your use on as much as possible. “Your phone is a potential time sink and one of the worst enemies of concentration,” explained Grohol.
It is also helpful to organize your notes after attending class. The act of rewriting and making sense of what you wrote down during class can help with retention of the material. When trying to remember material, Grohol points out the usefulness of mnemonics. One of the common ways of utilizing this tool is creating a nonsense sentence to remember a set of information. It doesn’t matter how ridiculous the sentence sounds; the important thing is that it is memorable enough to jog your memory of the material you are trying to remember.
Another effective habit to utilize is practice. Yes, practice. “The old adage, practice makes perfect, is true,” said Grohol. Whether you study by yourself or with a group of people, practice can be helpful in retaining information and understanding the material. There are many ways to practice, from creating flashcards, to going over past quizzes or old tests, for example. Depending on what the class is like, certain ways of studying might be more helpful than others.
Creating a realistic and achievable schedule and rewarding yourself when you complete some of your goals you set are some more effective habits to keep in mind while studying. Treating studying as something that is done regularly instead of when you have the time can help in the long run. Setting an amount of time to study every week can help prevent cramming sessions before tests.
“The frequency isn’t as important as actually studying on a regular basis,” explained Grohol.
Treating yourself when you do complete a task you set out to do is as important as completing the task itself. Managing your time into achievable goals that you can accomplish can result in a sense of satisfaction and pride. Rewarding yourself when achieving these goals encourages studying and gives you motivation to accomplish your academic goals.
“By setting these limits on your behavior, you’re actually teaching yourself discipline, which will be a handy skill to have throughout life,” said Grohol.
Another habit revolves around taking care of yourself. Balance is important, no matter where you are in life. Focusing only on one aspect of your life is never healthy. It can be difficult sometimes, “but the more balance you seek out in your life, the easier every component in your life becomes,” said Grohol.
Finally, it is beneficial to interact with your teachers. Talking with your teachers and building relationships with them allows you to gain a better understanding of the class, and can make it easier to ask questions about the material if you do not understand something.
“Talking to the instructor early on – especially if you foresee a difficult course ahead – will help you understand the course requirements and the professor’s expectations,” said Grohol.
As one last piece of advice, Grohol reminds readers to enjoy learning new things while they have the opportunity.
“Studying is an effort to actually learn things, some of which you might actually care about,” said Grohol. “By the time you’ll realize what a great opportunity school is, you’ll be well into the middle of your life with a lot of responsibilities … Then most people have neither the time nor energy to go back to school. So take the time to learn some stuff now, because you’ll appreciate the opportunity later on.”
For more information, visit https://psychcentral.com/lib/top-10-most-effective-study-habits/.