Smart, effective studying means incorporating breaks. Eating as healthy as possible, moving your body, and staying hydrated can support your brain and help you sleep better. Setting up your student workstation for the most effective work will also increase efficiency.
1) Get Creative
Absorbing nothing but text can be limited to your perception. If you’re studying biology, create a graphical abstract that reflects what you’ve been reading. If you record classroom lectures, play the recording while you knit or crochet. As you absorb the lectures and engage your creative brain, the information will travel through new areas of the brain.
2) Get Outside
Put a pedometer on your phone and determine how far 2000 steps will take you. If it’s 2000 steps from the library to the student union or from your apartment door to the bus stop, do your best to travel these distances 5 times a day to get in your 10,000 steps. It may not be possible to hit a hiking trail until after exams, but you can get some exercise with a little tracking.
3) Work in Bursts
Sitting down to study for 2 hours is seldom as effective as sitting down to work for 25 minutes with a planned break for 10 minutes at the end of the session. A short burst of uninterrupted work, followed by movement of some sort, can help you produce more and retain more data. For example, you can set your Pomodoro timer for 25 minutes, write or review for that time, then start a gentle yoga video that will take 10 minutes before you sit down and start working again. Your back, bottom, and brain will all benefit.
4) Figure Out Your Best Work Times
Some of us work best in the morning. Others have a busy brain at night. Stop fighting this tendency and work with it. Set up your desk before you go to bed so all you have to bring to the workspace in the morning is your coffee. As your brain wakes up, you’re set to start feeding it. Make sure that this morning setup includes your clothing and shoes so you don’t have to make decisions early in the day.
5) Put Blinders On
If social media is distracting you, a temporary website blocker may be effective to help you focus on your studies. Another simple option is to use a timer. If you have 45 minutes before class, set your timer for 35 minutes and focus on your notes from your previous lesson to reinforce the lesson. When the timer goes off, check Facebook.
6) Watch Your Diet
Use your grocery app and delivery service to bring in healthy bagged salads and lean protein you can heat or cook up quickly. Prepackaged single-serving frozen dinners that are quick to heat up alongside a serving of salad can give you a healthy meal break for a budget-friendly amount.
7) Stay Hydrated
Taking care of your body when you’re under a lot of studying stress can be tough; you may be shorting your sleep and increasing your caffeine intake. Dehydration can be very tough on your brain. Use a new water bottle and a hydration app to remind yourself to drink.
If you enjoy flavored water, try to hold off until after lunch. Many of us have a hard time going back to plain water once we start drinking flavored water. Flavored water can also boost your need for something salty and push your need for junk food.
Protecting your body and brain during times of high stress can help you retain information. Do make sure that you allow yourself plenty of downtime after your exams are over. Block out time to let your mind and spirit rest.