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Six Tips for Studying Smarter, Not Harder

Six Tips for Studying Smarter, Not Harder

Schools back and universities are starting to get into the swing of things too. Even if you have a big year ahead, the pace at this time of year is much slower. Which is why it’s the perfect time to give some thought to setting yourself up with effective study habits. These tried and tested study tips are a sure-fire way to set yourself up for a motivated, focused and balanced year ahead.

  1. Get a sense of the bigger picture

Take advantage of the first few weeks being quieter. Read through your class or unit outlines to get an idea of your general workload. Jot down things like:

  • How many hours you will need to attend face to face or online classes
  • How many hours you’re expected to spend outside of class reviewing materials and reading
  • The type of assignments or exams you will be doing and their due dates
  • The percentage that each assignment is worth
  • An estimation of the time that you will need to spend completing each assignment or studying for each exam

If any of the above is unclear, check-in with your teacher, lecturer or tutor to clarify or ask questions.

  1. Map things out ahead of time

After you have a sense of what’s involved in each of your units, it can help to map things out so you’re clear on how you are going to fit everything in. As well as your study commitments include other commitments such as work, sports or hobbies and anything else that’s apart of your normal routine.

Get creative with your planning. We love a good butcher’s paper session, especially if there are coloured textas involved! You might prefer a calendar, diary or online tools. The Homework app and Ad Life are two great apps for study planning and there are a few more ideas in this article

  1. Get yourself into a routine

Having a daily routine for sleep, diet and exercise can sound trivial, but it’s the foundation for good mental health and study success.

If classes start very early one day, but much later the next; it can be tempting to sleep in until you’re off to class. Getting up at around the same time each day though will help you to regulate your sleep which helps with concentration, focus and memory. Having a long day at uni or school can mean little time for exercise, but try to fit this in a few times a week if you can. Even incidental exercise, like walking home from the tram or getting off the bus one stop early can be effective.

Make time for things you enjoy too, of course. Your mind will feel sharper and clearer if you create a sense of balance in your life.

  1. Curb distractions

For most of us study and avoidance go hand in hand. When you sit down at your desk all kinds of more pressing and appealing tasks seem to arise. Suddenly the floor of your bedroom urgently needs tidying, texts need responding to and a little bit of scrolling around on Facebook and Instagram seems necessary too!

If you tend to get tempted by distractions, consider having set periods of time where you turn your phone off and don’t use the internet. Focus Booster, Concentrate and Self Control are all great apps to help with keeping yourself honest.

  1. Make time for breaks

Breaks are a crucial part of studying smarter, not harder. When we feel stressed or under the pump, breaks can often go by the wayside. Try not to fall into this trap though. Without breaks you’re more likely to become irritable and lethargic, “hangry”, have trouble focusing and to retain less of what you learn.

The good news is that studies have shown that even a little down time can reenergise our brain and body. If you are able to, the optimum formula is a six-minute break every 80 minutes, but even a two-minute mini-break has been found to increase productivity.

  1. Keep an eye on your stress levels

Studying can be stressful, especially when you have deadlines looming. A certain level of stress when studying is productive. When stress is absent we usually don’t feel motivated to work hard or plan ahead. Keeping your stress within an optimal range is important though.

If stress gets in the way of you studying, develop a plan for reducing your stress levels ahead of time. If you’re looking for some ideas about how to best do this, download a free copy of our 37-page eBook Finding Your Calm During the Storm: A Guide to Managing Stress by clicking here.

Looking for more info and ideas for improving your study habits?

Our team of psychologists work with secondary school and uni students to help them to feel more motivated, focused and balanced while working towards their study goals. We help people to tackle procrastination, perfectionism and habits that might be sabotaging their progress. We’re also experts in stress management.

To book an appointment with our friendly client support team click here.

This blog was written by Dr Jacqueline Baulch and Yvonne Yoong.

This beautiful image of our CBD location was taken by Breanna Dunbar Photography.

About the Author:

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Dr Jacqueline Baulch is a clinical psychologist and the director of Inner Melbourne Clinical Psychology.