Intro – How to Study Effectively
You need to study but procrastinate? Got a lack of motivation? Or you don’t know how to study smart? Whatever your study challenge is there is always a way to get motivated by taking on the right perspective and setting proper priorities. It also depends on the phase of your life. How much time can you actually invest in your studies?
This post is aimed at students in higher education. For ideas on higher education online courses go to free MOOC. This article here is also aimed at adults who need to take on formal studies again for whatever reason. You’ll come along three practical tips on how to get work done. Then, you’ll find two more tips on the right mindset. Studying is your current work, isn’t it?
Study Effectively with a Schedule and Stick to it
A day’s schedule. In my final Master’s year I came across this tip on how to study effectively by a friend – and I used it throughout the entire year. Here the suggestion: Schedule your day and with some routine you’ll soon know how to study effectively. Set a timer following this suggestion. Start at any time you choose:
- 1 hour studying
- 10 min break
- 1 hour studying
- 10 min break
- 1 hour studying
- 15 min break (and this feels so long all of a sudden)
In short, you break whatever amount of time you want to study into portions of 3 hours. I actually studied four in the morning & four in the evening with a long lunch break.
It’s important to stick with the timer – stop studying when it sounds, and stop your break and go back studying when it sounds again.
A week’s schedule. It’s recommendable for you to taking a day off per week – even if no one else in your college or university surroundings does that. You might be familiar with the Russian experiment of almost a 100 years ago. They’ve extended the 7-days week or rather the 5-days work week with desastrous results – read more about it here. The lesson we learn is: to study effectively the solution certainly is not to learn day in, day out.
A comment on scheduling. A schedule sticked to makes your confidence increase. You know by the time that you’ll be getting things studied off because you’re in the habbit of sticking to a schedule almost every day. That also increases sober judgement on when you’re free to interrupt the schedule to only take it up again the next day. A schedule will secure you’ll catch up. The whole issue of self-discipline creates predictability. This enhances your learning experience. It feels like you study effectively and you actually do. And so you may go about for many months without feeling exhausted in the long run. If you want to know how to study effectively structure your content.
How to Study Effectively with a good Structure
Structure Your Learning Content and study the most urgent stuff first. Prioritize other content for later on. If you want to work on that just gather literature on it in the meanwhile or do similar supportive tasks. Subscribe to get a free cheat sheet on priority setting into your inbox.
A good practise for a prioritization. In hours you set as differing from your most urgent task you may be flipping through your material, copy a chapter from a book and create a checklist for what you need to study next, or take notes of any readings. This is to have prepared resources at hand once the urgent assessment will have been passed. It all belongs to studying but doing additive tasks is somewhat lighter.
Example. If you need to finish a thesis by the end of 2-4 weeks you might choose to taking at least 6 hours out of 8 hours, which is 3/4 of your time, and go with this most urgent project. Take the other 2 hours to prepare for exams or assessments to follow afterwards. The closer you come to a deadline, skip all other tasks. Focus on the deadline only.
Prepare for Rewards to Cheer Yourself up
When you work hard you’ll earn a break. If you want to know how to study effectively – take breaks. And this break is best used when it’s worthwhile and valuable. A refresher for your body and intellect. It’s best when filled with an activity contrary to your studies. If most of your studies are on the computer you won’t watch a movie on the computer in your break. Instead, you’ll choose for a walk or so.
What is it you like best as a quick reward? Something good you can do yourself on a daily basis as reward for having pushed through your studies – what is it? It’s different for every person. Don’t miss your rewards. It animates and motivates you when you start out your long hours of intellectual work. After having poored so much content into your mind during the day in the evening, your mind is blown up. It needs a break, too. Just as your whole self does at the end of a day. Don’t miss the final reward.
Some more practical suggestions on enhancing motivation is found here with focus on studying in a homeschool setting. However, quite a few of these suggestions for young learners can be modified for mature learners, as well.
Don’t Lose Sight of the Right Priorities
Studying is not your life. It’s just a phase in life. Has a family member birthday soon and lives nearby? Alright, take a break and visit him or her if family relations are important to you. A phone call lifts up a friend, too. So, it’s good to focus on important things first. And an old friend is important. If you want to know how to study effectively don’t lose sight of important priorities in life. They’ll add to life quality.
Studying is your life. It’s actual the subject you’ve chosen to becoming your life’s direction that’ll make up your entire work life to some extend. At least, in the near future and hopefully beyond. So, you won’t study out of fear of bad marks or fear of not meeting any requirements of your professor. Why emphazising this? More than often, students study to the expectations of their professor and get discouraged while in reality they should be focussing on the basics they’ll be needing in a job for the next 20-40 years. We assume that any position is based on the success of your studies. Doesn’t that motivate you? You study for yourself, and aim for an interesting work life.
It’s a Matter of Perspective
You’ll be reminiscing those times at college or university much earlier than expected. So, take the right perspective while you’re on campus. Or in an online course.
Studying is the time of greatest freedom in an adult’s life. You’re not bond to opinions of parents at home or teachers at school. You’re your own boss. You’re in charge. This is even true if you need to focus on a side hustle or care for a family member in the midst of your studies. The intellectual freedom is greatest for students.
Studying will soon be passed. All too soon, you’ll be done filling your head with data, theories, companians’ input or professors’ interesting or possibly boring talks. You’ll be carrying responsibility to help a company grow. You’ll be exposed to tensions, different expectations and new fears. A whole different lifestyle. It might be everything – except for studies.
Lifelong learning. Studying while in an employed position is possible but differs from ‘only’ studying. In the work life, you’d find the idea of returning to study refreshing. Once you’ll be coming from the perspective of a 9/5 job or full responsibility for a company or family, studying comes close to leisure time.
Studying as a priviledge in developed societies. You’re in the position of dealing with a luxury problem. Having time and financial means to study is the top of personal freedom guaranteed by freedom in society, financial security by a family background and educational opportunities present. All of these represent a dream longed for from the perspective of the majority of young adults. These are born into poor social conditions in less fortuned circumstances than yours, possibly.
Their societies may not be developed at all. Even if emerging, the overall conditions for a proper education are far from the experiences of adults in developed countries. Oftentimes, there is no freedom to choose a formation or worse, no access to education, at all. Let this motivate you to understand how to study effectively and investing in your own current studies. Don’t be satisfied with less but your dedication, your time, your work.