What to Do If You Struggle to Study

I’ve always found it super difficult to stay focused on my schoolwork, and have often been the one finishing a paper or project at the very last minute. It’s definitely not fun to be that person, and it just adds stress and turmoil to your plate. So here is some guidance on how not to procrastinate when you’re attempting to study, coming from someone who has way too much experience with it.

The first thing that I do when I know I have to focus for an extended period of time on work or studies is to play music. Mind you, this isn’t any old music. This is super special study music. Nah, I’m just kidding. It is, however, music without lyrics. I always find that when I play music from my favorite artists while I’m trying to get work done, I end up focusing more on the music and jamming out to the tune than to the work. The lyric-less tunes that I find work the best are those from video game or movie soundtracks, because they often are created with the purpose of keeping the audience focused on the game/movie and not the music itself. So the next time you study, pop in some headphones and find your favorite tunes—but the ones without words.

Another thing that I personally find very helpful when I’m trying to focus is to have a clear workspace. My brain jumps all over when it doesn’t want to do work, so anything in front of me becomes a distraction. If I’m working, I like to make sure my desk is empty of everything except whatever I need to do that work. Usually, this means that there’s only my laptop, a pen, and possibly a piece of paper near me. This way, when I find my fingers drifting away from my keyboard or my worksheets, there’s nothing for them to latch onto and distract myself with. 

I also try to keep a clear schedule of my work to help me stay on top of upcoming projects and papers and other various due dates. This is less of a what-to-do-when-you-study tip and more of a piece of advice on what to prioritize when you do study. Typically, I tend to prioritize the most important work first, because if something has a due date before that work but is infinitely less crucial to my grade, I would rather spend more time on the larger piece of work. That said, if I have two assignments that are of equal importance, I also prioritize by the due date.

The last thing that tends to work for me when I study is to divide larger assignments into smaller sections. It doesn’t seem like such a daunting task if I tell myself that I’m going to write a few paragraphs a day for my upcoming essay, instead of attempting to set myself up to write it all a night or two before it’s due. This can work for any assignment, even shorter or smaller ones. Sometimes, the thought of having to do an entire piece of work, even if it’s only a page, even if it’s half a page, can be emotionally and mentally taxing, especially if you’re already under a lot of stress. Dividing up the work over a couple days, or a week, depending on the due date, can make the workload that much lighter, and thus your stress levels as well. 

There are tons of different ways to study, and not everything works for everyone. But make sure that you don’t give up if one thing doesn’t work for you! Keep trying to find new methods, and feel free to do some searching throughout the mountain of resources available online that can suggest options you may not have thought of. There are plenty of ways to help yourself, all you have to do is look!