With the joyous celebrations that come with Christmastime barely over, the cloud of dread that is a brand new semester has already settled over many of us. We understand that getting the ball rolling and coming to terms with early mornings being part of our daily routines once more are hardly worth looking forward to. Advice like “get 8 hours of sleep” or “clean out your desk” may not be useful, so here are some of our favourite ways to boost efficiency and banish procrastination throughout the day!
- Find a system that works for you
Not all learners are alike, and what works best for your classmates may not work as well for you. Try experimenting with various studying techniques to assess which helps your productivity levels the most! Below are some of the most popular methods.
– Pomodoro: An immensely popular study method as of late, this one involves working continuously for 25 minutes, and taking short breaks of 4-5 minutes instead of an hour-long study session and a break as a reward, which, let’s face it, often go on longer than it should be. This makes it a hot favourite amongst students with shorter attention spans, as they’re still able to get the same amount of work done while reducing chances of burnout. There are even “Study with me” videos out there to aid you!
– Flashcards: If focusing is not your issue, but you have trouble memorising concepts, try flashcards instead! These simulate exam questions and use keywords to jog your memory to help you remember important concepts quickly as you revise. While physical copies of flashcards are preferred by many, try online or app versions such as Brainscape or Quizlet to reduce waste and allow easy access with just your phone.
– Mind Maps: Visual learners may find this method most useful as it breaks down large and content-heavy concepts into digestible sections, and can also be used to plan longer essays. Creative individuals may also prefer this as it allows you to experiment and make your course notes look more pleasing! Here are some ideas to get you started on your very own mind map.
- Set realistic goals that suit your working style
Try setting achievable goals based on your working habits, and remain flexible by not overpacking your schedule so you don’t burn out easily. If you’re focused on details, break a large task into smaller sections and work your way from there, setting time slots for each smaller goal. On the other hand, “big-picture” oriented individuals may want to set looser time limits to complete larger goals at their own pace.
- Reduce distractions
Many of us put on music or our favourite shows in the background as we study as ambient noise, but studies show that it may actually slow down productivity. Instead, choose music that is non-distracting, such as those without lyrics, or gaming music that is actually used to keep players in focus while studying to maintain productivity levels. If social media platforms like Instagram or TikTok are your productivity’s main nemesis, install phone usage limiting apps like Forest (paid) or Tide (free) to track your studying time and motivate you to stay off those apps.
- Avoid multitasking
Multitasking is known to be one of the main culprits of unproductivity. It causes poorer retention of content, faster rates of burnout in addition to lower levels of efficiency. In conditions such as lectures or tutorials, ensure that your screen is free from distractions such as unnecessary open tabs and split screens to retain information better, or choose to use hardcopy materials if you prefer! By listening carefully in classes rather than multitasking, you need not study your notes as in-depth during revision as you’ve already absorbed the important content during class.
- Find a partner
Peer pressure is often seen as negative, but having a friend around when studying can motivate you to work harder and doubles as a revision help. However, it’s essential to choose your study buddy wisely—make sure that you both set goals and remain undistracted by each other to increase productivity.
- Reward yourself
Last but not least, don’t forget to give yourself something to look forward to when you’re done with a difficult task! Whether it be catching up on the latest news, watching a short cat video, or chatting with friends, ensure that your break time matches with the difficulty of your work.