Studying isn’t something that’s just done, but rather something that can and should be done well. There are many things that could affect the outcome of a study session, either positively or negatively. A high-performing student understands how to implement effective strategies to attain the best possible results in investing valuable time into learning something. Here is a list of proven strategies that will aid you in your quest for excellence.
But first, let’s look at the core aspects that make a good study session.
Focus On the Right Thing
The first thing that a student needs to understand is that focus is everything.
In order to obtain knowledge about the world around us, it is necessary to experience it consciously. We must be around the things that we are trying to learn something meaningful about. And since we cannot be present at more than one place at the same time, that means we cannot understand multiple things simultaneously.
To focus means to be in a specific part of reality, which at the same time prevents us from being somewhere else. A student that’s thinking about how to focus better on his or her studies should consider two things:
Managing potential distractions: It’s important to manage our environment and keep it from affecting our ability to concentrate on what we need to learn.
Choosing the right things to invest study time on: We also need to be conscious of the quality of the things that we are choosing to focus on. We don’t want just to read a book, we want to read the right one.
The tips that I’m going to share next fall into all categories.
Distraction management techniques
Do it while well-fed and hydrated.
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Your brain doesn’t run on good intentions only. You must fuel it properly if you want to get the best out of it. When it comes to nutrition, there are some foods that are better than others. Eating the right food can have a positive impact on your ability to focus. These are the things I like to eat whenever I’m going to write my papers:
- Leafy greens (spinach, cabbage, etc.)
- Products that are rich in fatty acids such as fish and nuts.
Hydration is something that’s also very important when it comes to improving your cognitive performance. Just by making sure you are always well hydrated, you will give your brain the chance to function significantly better. This is a very easy hack that most people often overlook. 85% of our brain consists of water, so ensure you are drinking enough water when you are looking at a day of intense studying.
Exams can be scary. And it’s normal to search for tips on how to focus during a test. The answer is managing your anxiety. But what is anxiety exactly?
One of the most common and rarely addressed sources for distraction comes from within us. Anxiety is an emotion that takes place when our body-mind systems detect something that may be harmful to us in some way, this can be either real or imaginary. And it can be immensely distracting.
The first thing you have to do in order to start managing your anxiety is making sure you are doing things for the right reason. Journal, meditate and talk to others about what’s motivating you in life. You must try to avoid living your life out of fear. Are you running away from something, or pursuing your dreams? This can make all the difference in the world when it comes to staying happy and anxiety-free.
Everything you do to lower your anxiety levels will have a positive impact on your ability to focus on your studies.
If there is something that can take a toll on your ability to focus, then that is not having enough sleep each day.
A lot of us have gone through a phase in life when we pretend that we don’t need to sleep. Do not fall for that trap; trust me, you need your sleep.
If you don’t get seven to eight hours of quality sleep a day, everything you do the day after will be impacted negatively. It will essentially make you unconscious, which will impact your ability to pay attention to the things you are trying to learn. Stick to that rule early enough, and you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble.
Finding the right object to focus on
Leverage the power of abstraction
There are not many things as important for the human species as abstract thinking. When we take a lot of different details, and things, put them together, and come up with something that comprises the meaning of them all in just one single idea, then we are doing an abstraction. Any study technique that’s aimed at giving us more control over the complex thing should be based on a certain form of abstraction.
As students, it is imperative that we learn strategies to create helpful abstractions from what we hear in class or what we read in books.
For example, the To-do lists are an application of abstract thinking. We have a lot of stressful things that we need to take care of and then we make a list out of them that’s ordered by priority. Now we have one thing to do only: follow our to-do list.
Mind maps are a very popular way of defining a study object before we actually dig into it. The graphical aspect of a mind map is something that makes it easier for our brains to understand it. Moreover, mind maps can actually take very complex ideas or projects and represent them on one page, so we can actually see the whole thing in one piece at a glance.
Now that you have decided what to work on. One thing that will further boost your efficiency during studying is working within short intervals of time. And when it comes to managing your time for productivity, there is probably nothing better than this concentration tip:
The Pomodoro technique
The Pomodoro technique is a highly popular method to help your brain stay productive over long periods of time. The technique can be modified according to each person, but it typically consists of staying focused on studying something for twenty-five minutes and then resting for five. This works in a similar when you exercise: you apply tension and then relax. There are many neurological reasons why the Pomodoro technique works, but the important thing is that it truly does.
Check the Pomodoro technique and combine it with other tips that I have suggested above, and you will have a solid arsenal of methods to improve the results you get from your studying.