Academic Success - Making the most of your study time
If you’re currently studying, you’ll know that it can be a juggle to fit all your priorities into each day or week—your job (or jobs), family commitments, hobbies, and time with friends … just to name a few!
If we let some activities run away, like time spent staring at screens, then the balance can quickly tip, with huge consequences for our lives, wellbeing and education.
What does academic success mean to you?
There’s no right answer to that question, really. Education is a lifelong journey of discovery, learning, and experience. For you, success might mean meeting your school’s expectations, completing all your courses, earning a specific grade point average, landing a successful job, or being accepted into a prestigious graduate program next fall.
At the end of the day, school is about learning more about yourself and the world to make you a better person and the world a better place. It pays to consider what success means to you.
Techniques for time management
There are so many demands on us that it is important to know how to make the most of our time.
A good approach to study sessions is important and easy to achieve. Here are some things to consider:
Your study environment: A dedicated, organized, and clean workspace that has everything you need prepares you for productive study sessions. Keeping your studying place distraction-free and relaxing is important for mental health, and can create a sense of productive satisfaction.
Rituals: Speaking of the study environment, do you have study rituals? Routines help keep stress and frustration at bay as we work and study, without taxing our willpower. Build micro habits, like lighting a candle, making a cup of tea, or listening to focus music, that feed your creativity, boost your productivity, and fire up your focus.
Avoid multitasking: Try not to do two things simultaneously, even when you think it’s the only way you could get everything done on time. Multitasking actually reduces your focus and productivity over the long term and leaves you feeling drained. Focus on one task, complete it, then move on.
Organization, prioritization, and planning
When you don’t have a clear picture of what you need to do next, it’s easy to waste the next several minutes (or hours) doing random things that don’t get you anywhere nearer your academic goals.
Planning ahead helps you remember what you need to do—and keeps you away from what you should not be doing. Give yourself specific tasks with a deadline and write prioritized to-do lists to help you identify what you should focus on, and what you do not have time for.
In your plan, you can set some clear goals around what you’d like to achieve. The best goals are specific, personal, and flexible. They should:
Be detailed and measurable
Mean something to you
Be open to change if something else more important comes up
Want to build a regular exercise schedule? Your goal might look like this: “I will work out 20 minutes per day, three days a week starting today.”
Setting goals for specific study sessions might mean something like: “I will read pages 34-45 of this textbook in the next half-hour.”
Distractions, distractions, distractions
Does this sound familiar? Our research has shown that digital distractions are the cause of over 60% of all working distractions. Pings, dings and hums, that break-up our focus and stop us from getting good work done.
Quality academic achievements require focused, dedicated attention. It’s vital for serious students to limit digital distractions, so that they can concentrate, learn and progress.
Short of completely shutting off your WiFi or going on a full-blown digital diet, website blockers like Freedom keep digital distractions at bay. Techniques like these help to minimizes the time you spend on attention-stealing sites (YouTube, anyone?)– can help you reclaim your study time from digital distractions.
Take a break!
Even though there are always a million things to get done, it’s crucial to take regular breaks to recharge yourself. Trading health for good grades isn’t a good idea. But the good news? You don’t have to make that trade!
Make sure you invest in the right breaks, to give your brain and body the best chance of success. This might mean making sure you get 8 hours of sleep every night, setting aside time to truly enjoy meals, carving out time for your favorite hobbies, and taking a 5-minute break from the screen every hour or so to refresh your eyes.
Here are some fun things we recommend you do on breaks:
Read a good book
Meditate (Listening to happy & calming music can help!)
Explore a new hobby
Take a walk
Just… do nothing for a few minutes! (go on, we challenge you….)