Getting Your Study On: Tips for starting a productive study session

Here comes the weekend! A time to rest, spend time with friends and family, and catch up on all that homework you’ve been putting off during the week. While some of us spend hours on homework and others just a few minutes a day, one thing all students have in common is wanting to get the most homework done for the least time invested. If you can spend 1 hour or 3 studying and get a similar result, why waste an extra two hours?

Sadly, many of us are doing just that. It’s so easy to see something on Netflix and have it going “in the background,” or to try to get it all done in a hurry and end up needing to redo terrible work later. How can we avoid the stress and just get it done? Here’s how to start:

  1. Be selective about multitasking. If you write better with background music, that’s fine, but don’t pretend you can just do it all at once — the human brain was not made for that. Set up a schedule for yourself, and focus on certain subjects at certain times, without overlap. You’ll remember more, and have it separated so that it’s less like digging through a messy garage and more like selecting a labeled box.
  2. Speaking of schedule, schedule in breaks! Believe it or not, you will need to relieve yourself and grab a snack every now and then, no matter how stressed you are about that test. According to the MIT Center for Academic Excellence, one hour blocks of 50 minutes study to 10 minutes break is the most effective.  Feel free to experiment with what ratio works best for you!
  3. Have a common factor for when you are studying. Whether it’s a scent, a drink, or a location, it helps to have something that can subconsciously signify that now is the time to focus on schoolwork and nothing else. My key is diffusing a certain blend of oils that I only use when working. It has been a miracle!
  4. EAT GOOD FOOD. Specifically, healthy food. More specifically, healthy fats, fruits, veggies, and protein. I’m sorry to break it to you, but as amazing as Culver’s cheese curds are, your brain would be much happier with a diet consisting of other things.
  5. Exercise! You don’t have to be a body builder, but take a small portion of your breaks to do some jumping jacks or squats. It will increase blood flow and add some endorphins, which will help you do better when you get back to studying.

What tricks do you use to stay focused, and get the most out of your study sessions?

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