Hey, painters! Welcome to another tuesday post by yours truly.
This week, I decided to write a short post about something that I have been dealing a lot with lately… We have all been there: dividing our time up between classes, daily travels, responsibilities in our family and household, other projects in which we are involved, spending time with friends, taking a few moments for our hobbies and, on top of all of that… studying for tests!!! With such limited time, it’s very important to make the most out of the hours you can set aside to study. My tips aren’t all going to be original or innovative – but I’ve been putting them to the test for years and, trust me, they work!
1. Divide up your study time.
Want to make the most of your cognitive abilities? Take regular breaks! Ever noticed how your attention starts decreasing after about 20-30 minutes? That means it’s time for a short break: do something that distracts you, but only for about 5 minutes. You can try different variations of this, though, depending on the time you have and your attention span. I usually try to study either in hour or half-an-hour segments and take a few snack or e-mail breaks. I also try to change up the subjects so that I’m not always working on the same topics over and over!
2. Clean up your work space!
This one can either go for your physical work space – most likely your desk or maybe even your bed – or your mental work space. This means both your desk and your mind should be clear of distractions: clutter, a lot of textbooks or random papers you don’t need at the moment, unorganized school supplies… but also digital distractions like cellphones! This also applies to your computer: if you are reading, let’s say, a PDF file, you should try to keep your internet browser closed, or at least with no distracting websites open (yes, I am looking at your Facebook tab, mister!). I have to admit this is probably the one I do worst at, particularly when it comes to digital distractions. So I try to save the extreme restrictions to more serious study times, so I don’t always feel burdened when I study.
3. Write your own notes, design your own schemes, say it in your own words.
Notice a trend? That’s right, it’s all about how you, personally, would describe the topics you are studying! This is specially important if you want to go beyond memorization and really understand the new concepts, terms and ideas you are dealing with – that is, if you want to really learn (and I don’t know about you, but I’m not paying 1000€ a year not to learn!). This process works because, when you are putting it in your own words, you are integrating it into what you already know, building new mental schemes and really internalizing these new ideas in ways that are familiar to you. So, duh, of course you will remember them better!
4. Pay attention in class… really.
I know, your teaching is boring, their powerpoints are awful and ugly and your friend has had the most exciting weekend, full of adventures they need to tell you about right now. Well, sorry buddy, but you’re going have to tell them to save it for later. Again, maybe you shouldn’t be paying so much money a year to not pay attention – or even show up at all – to class. Now, of course everything is slightly relative, and sometimes there are those teachers who just cannot, for the life of them, make any sense while explaining the subject at hand. I’ve been there, and I get it. But never, ever, ever, give up on a teacher in the first five classes. Sometimes you just need to understand their approach before things start making more sense. And then that saves you at least two hours of studying, isn’t that good? 😉
5. Go easy on yourself.
This is my last advice and it’s the most important one. So, I’ll say it again: go easy on yourself. Sometimes we are so focused on getting those results, we just forget everything else – including our limits and our well being. But being okay and happy is so, so much more important than having X grades or X average. You are more important than your grades. And it doesn’t matter what anyone else tells you, that’s the truth. So take care of yourself, work towards being happy and set up goals that make sense to you. Work to learn and let grades come as a consequence of all of that.
And that’s it for today, painters! Enjoy your week and all the new things you’ll learn.