My finals start next week and it has lead me to think a lot about my studying practices and organization. I’m not going to lie, I’m the type of person that procrastinates to an embarrassing degree (I’m supposed to be doing homework currently) and always has to play catch up at the end of a semester. Finishing up my fourth year of university, I have had a lot of experience with exam stress and studying in a very productive manner to catch up on slacking from earlier in the semester. These are some of the tips and tricks I have learned over the past four years:
Always keep a calendar and a planner.
At the beginning of every semester I try to lay out a calendar AND a planner with all of the important due dates for my courses. I find that it is important to keep both. My calendar is always staring at me when I sit at my desk and helps to keep me focused. And my planner is perfect for throwing in a backpack to keep you organized on the go. I find that if they are something I enjoy to look at I also tend to keep up with them more. This year I am using a “yoga dogs” calendar and a Kate Spade planner with flamingos on it.
Always write notes out by hand.
I find that the most important thing I do to study is write my notes out rather than typing them up. It makes me think about what I am writing, and process the information better. I find it also helps to try to remember a whole sentence without looking up. This makes sure that I actually understand what I am writing down. It’s called “chunking” information and is shown to improve information recall.
Instead of highlighting when reading, use sticky tabs.
When I read out of a textbook, or read an article I like to put tabs on the place that I think is important. I like to line it up with the side of the page to make sure that I know where I’m looking. This helps me to learn better because instead of just reading the highlighted section, I have to search for the tab and read the whole section to make sure I find the important part. This provides context as well as ensuring deeper processing of the information.
Play calm instrumental music or white noise while studying.
Having a calm environment really helps me to stay in the zone. The fact that you’re not going to hear your roommates shuffling in their room or the garbage truck outside is great for eliminating distractions! This is one of my favourites. (http://8tracks.com/marvelbae/the-ultimate-instrumental-playlist-volume-2)
Have a defined start and ending point.
If I tell myself “you can stop at 3”, I am more likely to get more work done. Having a defined ending point helps to remove feelings of “this is going to take forever”. When I know that I am done in two hours, I can focus while I’m working and then relax when I’m done. Having a defined starting point is extremely important too. If you tell yourself “Okay I’m going to start working at ten,” you have to stick with it. Don’t just ignore the clock or you won’t ever get started.
Thanks for reading!