When I applied to college, I had a plan: study as much as possible, write all needed assignments, and make just the right number of friends to keep my social life healthy while working towards my goals. I didn’t predict an important thing though: the college “vibe” can easily take you off the track.
Throughout my first year, I struggled with daily plans that I didn’t manage to stick to, and I failed two important courses. That was a wake-up call! I knew I had to make some changes and bring my focus back on the initial goal.
If you are having hard time to study efficiently, you might think that getting rid of the old habits would take a lot of effort. It does! However, it only takes a firm decision and willingness to succeed. If you have that, then you can easily do what I did: create an efficient study plan that would help you graduate on schedule. Allow me to share some tips drawn from my own experience. Before I continue any further, let me clarify one thing: they were effective. I graduated on time and continued with my Master’s program successfully.
1. Create a studying habit
There is one trick I found effective: my mind needed to get into a routine. If I planned to study in different hours of the day, I was not always ready to do it. My mind needed a pattern, so I examined the daily achievements during one week and found that I studied most effectively in the afternoon. I got used to this tempo soon and achieved much greater productiveness than I ever thought possible.
This is my advice to you: analyze your focus throughout different times of the day. You will find that your mind functions better during a certain period. That’s the exact time you should use for studying. Keep to the same schedule for at least 10 days and it will soon become a habit that you won’t want to break.
2. Try different studying spaces
If you have a lot of studying to do, try changing the space after the small break. For example, you can alternate between the library and your room. This will refresh your mind and set you in a studying mode all over again.
3. A clear plan will keep you focused
The traditional pen-and-paper planner didn’t work for me. When I started using a study planner on my tablet, things changed immediately. I was motivated by the colors, notifications, and clear outline. These planning tools enable you to schedule an important activity way before the actual date, and you’ll get reminders that won’t allow you to forget about it.
4. Avoid study groups if they don’t work for you
Some students love homework and study groups, since they can benefit from each other’s knowledge and get things done much more productively. Good for them. I found that I couldn’t possibly study anything when I was surrounded with friends. After tons of trial and error, I decided that study groups were simply not my style. There is nothing wrong in isolating yourself for a while.
5. Take a rest
Sleepless nights are sometimes necessary if you want to do well on college exams. However, if you are too tired, you won’t remember anything no matter how hard you try to keep your eyes open. In such time, there is nothing else you could do but sleep. You will wake up with a refreshed brain, ready to receive new information.