We all know life is a continuous learning process and I fully resonate with that idea. However, it becomes a bit daunting when you have to sit down at your desk and actually study for something, especially when you’ve graduated a few years ago.
As of late, I’m trying to get my driver’s licence but in order to achieve that, I need to study. A lot. And as you’ve probably guessed already, it’s not going so well. I mean, I’m writing an article instead of studying for my exam so that says everything. But in all truth, I’m writing this on my break and I’m happy to say that I’ve cracked the code on efficient studying.
So how do you do it? I’m going to share with you six easy tips to improve your focus and study like a pro.
1. Don’t take it as a negative experience
Yes, studying might be boring but not necessarily! This applies to everything in your life so pay attention; if you start something with the right mindset, the job is half-way done. Try to think of the studying process as a challenge with a definitive gain. These hours you put aside to study count as an investment in yourself and by the time you finish, you would have become an improved version. Get excited about it and take pride in what you’re achieving.
2. Exorcise your work space
The space where you study is very important, I can’t stress this enough. If you have a cluttered desk or you’re in a poorly-lit room, you won’t make much progress. Keep everything clean and organized. I, for one, enjoy lighting a candle and having potted plants near my working space to brighten up my day while a friend of mine for example, prefers nothing on her desk apart from a pen and a notebook because she feels anything else would distract her from the task at hand. See what works for you, experiment with your surroundings! Maybe you’d feel more at ease with important, personal items close by or perhaps listening to some music could boost up your energy and get you in the right mood for studying. Whatever it is, make sure it transforms your space into a sanctuary for the entire duration of your work.
3. Take a break
You need to disconnect when you start feeling tired or unable to soak up information. It’s recommended you step away from your study materials and change venue. Go into the kitchen, make yourself a cup of tea or eat something light. Maybe exercise for a few minutes. Take a short walk. This allows your mind to relax but also better appropriate the things you’ve been studying for the past hours.
4. Use things that “spark joy”
Spark joy, as Marie Kondo – organizational guru, would say.
What I mean by this is that if you have a favourite pen, then you’d best be using it for this studying session. Trust me, it actually works. Do you have some new sweatpants or PJs you’re dying to wear but never had the chance? Now you do. A cool notebook? A comfy chair? Adorable sticky notes in the shape of cats (Yes, they exist)? Use them. They bring excitement and they make you want to study. Unless you’re like me and you have 100 favourite pens, then you have nothing to lose if you try this hack.
5. Put your phone away
I’m sure everyone stopped reading this very moment but I’m telling you, we have reached the most important step. I can’t tell you how many times my phone distracted me. Text messages, Facebook notifications, game notifications and so on. Just by looking at it, I’m forever caught in a trance wondering about what could be happening out there without my knowledge. So what works for me is turning it off and placing it in another room where it can’t call out to me. I even close the door. And guess what? There is life after phone expulsion.
6. Plan rewards for yourself
I always do this because let’s face it, you’re more likely to get motivated if you know there’s a reward waiting for you at the end of your journey. So before I set off studying, I’ll think to myself: After I finish, I’ll watch that movie or I’ll go out with my friends after I’m done with this chapter or, my personal favourite, “your seconds are numbered clueless ice-cream waiting for me at the back of my freezer!”
There’s nothing more satisfying than immediate payback. Try it for yourself and you’ll see that studying won’t be as intimidating as it used to be. And what’s the worst that could happen? Well, you might actually start liking it.
Denisa Potop is the 1st Prize winner of the DreamQuestOne International Competition for Short Stories and regular collaborator with the London Japanese Gallery for their Ukiyo-e prints. She uses writing as a cure for everything and hopes that one day she’ll be able to finish one of the many books she has stored in her head. In her free time, she conspires with cats, drinks way too much tea and fantasizes about Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland.