Stop Wasting Your Time: 3 Tips to Construct Efficient Study Sessions
If studying is the absolute bane of your existence, and you’re spending hours of your day trying to study with mediocre results, there’s a good chance that you’re working inefficiently. Creating effective study sessions are all down to planning, managing your time, and implementing strategies to stay motivated and maintain a healthy balance between work and leisure. The healthiest ways to study always involve ample amounts of down-time to make sure that you’re getting destressed and rejuvenated while still on schedule with your work. Here are some essential study-planning tips to help streamline your studies.
1. Setting Goals🎯:
Before you start your study session, make a note of all the work you want to accomplish within that session. Goal-setting is always a good idea before you begin working—if you sit down to study from a textbook or any resource material with no planned end-goal, it is very likely that you will quickly become overwhelmed and demotivated with the large amount of portions you might be dealing with. To avoid this, list out the specific number of chapters, topics or exercises that you think you will be able to complete in that session before you sit down to work. This gives you a doable end-goal to work towards.
As a learner, you may be in the habit of setting time-based rather than content-based goals; this means that the goal you set for yourself is based on the amount of time you spend (‘I will study for three hours today’) rather than the content you complete (‘I will study two chapters of Chemistry today’). Time-based goals may work well if you are naturally a disciplined worker and have a long-term study plan in place to finish your portions in time,
👉The Downside of Time-Based Goals
However, this is not the reality for most of us (professional procrastinators, I see you😉) We’ve all been there. If, like nearly all of us, you have trouble with maintaining motivation, staying focused and avoiding distractions, a time-based goal might be counterproductive. For instance, you might sit down with the intention to study for two hours, but end up spending forty minutes in total trying to focus or zoning out; one-third of your study session has gone to waste, and you’ve probably not finished all of the work you need to do that day, even though you’ve technically fulfilled your time goal. This is not an effective way to get work done.
Alternatively, if you’ve set a goal to complete making notes for two chapters of Geography during your study session, for instance, this will ensure that you end up completing the work that you are required to do that day, so that your studies are on track. For many of you, content-based goals could also be a better motivator than time-based ones—if you know that you can end your session as soon as you meet your set goals, it may motivate you to focus and complete them in less time than you would otherwise take. This is a great way to save time, keep your work on track, and stay motivated at the same time.
2. Taking Breaks:
This may seem counterproductive if you’re in the habit of putting endless hours of work to reach your goals, but the most important part of saving time is to schedule enough breaks into your study routine. Time-management experts will agree that the maximum amount of time we waste is usually spent on procrastination; where we waste our time on unimportant things to avoid doing the work we know we need to be doing. Alternatively, for many learners the idea of studying may be so stressful or boring that we purposefully put off work to do things we find more enjoyable or rewarding, like reading for pleasure or scrolling through social media.
The best way to combat both procrastination and demotivation is to use scheduled breaks to create a reward system for yourself. For example, if you’re about to begin a study session to complete one chapter of Mathematics, set a timer and schedule a 7-minute break for yourself every half an hour until you finish. You must commit to doing focused work during the half-hour micro-session in order for the breaks to work effectively. When you begin, keep in mind that you will get a break in 30 minutes provided that you put in your best effort until then. This creates a good reward system that might help to motivate your focus. Despite the time spent taking breaks, you’ll probably find that you end up finishing your task faster than if you hadn’t taken breaks at all, because the incentive helps you focus.
This method comes from the Pomodoro Technique, which involves 25-minute sprints where you focus on your task, followed by a 5-minute break. The Pomodoro Timer is a useful resource when using this method of study: https://pomofocus.io/
3. Upgrade Your Study Vibe:
My last piece of advice is this: don’t underestimate the power of setting the vibe for your study sessions. Your environment plays a significant part in your ability to focus. Whether you prefer silence to work or thrive in the middle of noisy spaces, there is an optimal study environment for every learner. Figuring out what works for you could go a long way in improving your focus and the quality of your work.
Taking the time to create dedicated study playlists is a good place to start, whether your preference is lo-fi music, hard rock, ambient noise or anything in between. Keeping your workspace organised is also always a good idea. And if you think it might help, go the extra mile and spruce it up with lighting and decor to your taste. Work towards a workspace that will help you to focus as best you can.
With these planning, time-management and organisation tips in mind, I hope you have a better idea of how to save up on time and get to studying more efficiently. Always look for ways to maximise focus and outcome rather than time spent, and you’re already halfway there!