Back-to-school season is in. You might have made it through your first day of school, but as the year continues – you’ll need more than a new outfit and a good breakfast to keep you motivated and focused.
Whether starting high school, finishing college, or tackling a PhD, writing and studying are a part of daily life. Although these things may never be easy, these are a few tips and tricks you can use to make achieving your goals as painless as possible.
1. PLAN AHEAD
Whether writing a ten-page paper or studying for a midterm, poor time-management is often the culprit for bad results. Having a plan for all your tasks and assignments is key to avoiding unnecessary stress, cramming, and late nights.
Keep a calendar. Whether you use a hard copy calendar or something like Google Calendar – keep a running list of all your homework tasks, review sessions, deadlines, and all their due dates. Choose a time each day to review your tasks and add any new assignments or projects.
2. BREAK LARGE TASKS INTO SMALLER TASKS
One can easily fall prey to procrastination when a task seems to large or difficult to start. Avoid this problem by using your calendar to break down large projects and studying into smaller, more manageable recurring sessions.
For example, create a studying schedule in which you spend 15 minutes a day reviewing your lecture notes, or create deadlines for each section of the paper that needs to be completed (September 15 – research, September 16 – outline, September 18 – intro…) At Freedom, we love the Pomodoro Technique, which is useful for breaking work into chunks and avoiding mental fatigue.
3. PEOPLE ARE YOUR GREATEST RESOURCE
Learning is often improved with people. Of course this depends on your learning style, but for a lot of us, people can be your greatest resource. Throughout the year, use Google Docs or Evernote to collaborate and combine lecture notes. Use Quizlet to make flashcards you can share. Create group study guides, talk with your professor, and find a study partner who shares a similar learning style.
If you are writing a paper, find someone in your class to pair up with and do peer-reviews of each other’s work. Also, be sure to take advantage of any academic services your university offers such as writing centers, tutoring, or office hours.
4. ELIMINATE DISTRACTIONS
Both writing and studying are notorious for being mentally draining and requiring a lot of focus. Writing or studying can take hours longer than needed if your attention is stolen every 5 minutes but a notification, email, or phone buzz. For your digital distractions, you can use Freedom to block your most distracting websites and apps across all your devices. You can even schedule recurring blocks to help you commit to studying in advance.
5. TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY
Even the best studying techniques won’t help you succeed if you don’t give your body what it needs. You’ve heard it before, but eating well, getting enough sleep, and drinking plenty of water are all effective ways to ensure your mind and body are at peak performance.
Do you have any other favorite tricks or techniques for studying and writing? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below!