Wondering how to stay on top of your studies this year? We’ve tapped into our love for learning and summarised the best ways to affect meaningful change and sustainable study habits, just for you.
Find your WHY
Simon Sinek has famously explained that ‘Why’ is probably the most important message that any individual can examine, as this is what inspires us to action. Clarifying your ultimate purpose, the very reason you are doing this at all and the goals or outcomes you will ultimately achieve because of studying will help you to stay on board and focused throughout the year. We personally like a vision board; while everyone is motivated in different ways, humans are visual and having a literal picture of what you imagine the outcome being – graduating, travelling overseas, being published, etc. – will definitely help you to stay committed when you look up from your books!
Balance Is Key
Healthy body, healthy mind! Scheduling time for friends or family, some physical activity, and other recreation ensure your mind will stay refreshed and on point. When you do any type of intense physical activity, it causes blood to flow to the brain. This in turn fires up your neurons and promotes cell growth, particularly in the hippocampus. This means that just 20 minutes of exercise before studying can improve your concentration and help you focus your learning. Additionally, the endorphins released will decrease anxiety and stress.
Have a Carrot Ready
Rewards work because we like them! You can use a blend of small and large rewards: a walk after the next chapter or self-test, or a nap after you revise. This helps to keep a positive attitude and enthusiasm throughout the ongoing task of studying, making it more sustainable. Ultimately, revert to your WHY and retain the idea of the ultimate reward: excelling in your understanding of your studies to build the life you want.
Breaks Prevent Breaking
After reviewing all the studies and research that’s out there, here’s the best advice: take SHORT breaks – say 5 to 15 minutes – every hour or so. Take a longer break (at least 30 minutes) every 2 to 4 hours (depending on your task). Research shows that taking purposeful breaks from studying to refresh your brain and body increases your energy, productivity, and ability to focus.
Misery Loves Company
So find a study buddy, okay? We’re kidding! Having a study buddy provides an opportunity to share knowledge, gives you another perspective or level of insight, and broadens (both of) your understanding. Sharing study techniques can also introduce you to more efficient ways to study and improve your productivity. A traditional way of learning includes “Watch one, do one, teach one” – by teaching one another, you will know if you have mastered your course material.
Good Environment = Good Habits
Research has shown that an engaged learning environment increases students’ attention and focus, promotes meaningful learning experiences, encourages higher levels of student performance, and motivates students to practise higher-level critical thinking skills.
- Choose a comfortable convenient location
- Have everything you need organised at hand
- It MUST be quiet, or ear buds can help this
- Have backup plans in case of loadshedding or similar
- Have good lighting
- Have a plan and a schedule
- Put your vision board up where you can see it when your attention wanders!
Build A Strong Foundation: Use the Best Material Possible
Honestly, this is all hard enough without handicapping yourself further. Make sure you have what you need on hand, as well as alternative reading on your subject to really help you take an interest in it and have a holistic appreciation and understanding of it. And if you haven’t yet, be sure to check out Juta Passmasters. As the trusted South African provider of technology-enabled learning and information solutions, Passmasters will help to enhance your performance by reducing preparation time with access to supplementary academic resources, wherever you are. But don’t take our word for it! Visit our catalogue today.
It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Have a clear vision but remember to pace your strategy and enthusiasm to sustain you throughout the year. Keep your eyes on the prize, and good luck for 2022!