Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at USFSP chapter.

Sitting down to do homework can be insanely overwhelming, especially when you have not found a way to understand the material being taught. I personally hit a wall in high school during which my grades lowered far below my usual performance. I had to find new strategies and, fortunately, I did. I am here to share with you the study techniques that saved my GPA that I continue to maintain in college. 

Feynman Technique 

I personally need to understand concepts logically to retain any new information, so this technique did wonders. The Feynman Technique works in a sequence of four steps. First, you research or study the given topic until you understand it enough to teach someone about it in a way they will understand. After teaching someone, you can continue researching or studying it to fill in any gaps in knowledge. You can then review the learned material again to then teach it in even simpler terms. 

I love any technique that involves teaching or explaining in simple terms because it forces you to understand the material enough to condense it. It is not just memorization. Gaining the ability to identify gaps in knowledge through questions your ‘student’ might have also helps a lot. As an alternative approach, it has also worked to teach myself about the topic I am studying and answer my own questions. 

Loci Method 

As a visual learner, the Loci Method helped me because the technique involves visualization.  You first visualize yourself placing pieces of information in a specific order in a location you are extremely familiar with. When reviewing information, you imagine yourself walking down whatever location you chose, picking up the pieces of information in chronological order.  

For example, if you want to memorize the order in which mitosis occurs, you can choose the way out of your dorm as your location and even make a reasoning for each checkpoint to apply the material. Prophase could be your dorm because the genetic material is still getting ready just like you. Prometaphase could be the hallway on your floor because the genetic material is about to attach to the spindle fibers to later start separating, and you are about to get in the elevator to later separate from the building. You get the idea.  

Spaced Repetition 

Spaced repetition has been most useful to me in college. To fight the forgetting curve, it involves spacing out study sessions multiple times a day and/or week. This helps new information stay in the long-term memory. I have different approaches to this technique depending on the class. My usual strategy is to take lecture notes in black pen, then go back later that day or week to highlight important information. This allows me to review the content and pick out key information as a way of processing what I learned a second time. If math is involved, I usually rewrite the examples in my notes to ensure I understand them. Later that week, I use my notes to complete the assigned homework. When I study for an exam, I re-write my notes and condense them to fit the smallest possible amount of space on paper. 

Pomodoro Method 

The Pomodoro Method is amazing for people who get overwhelmed by their to-do list or simply cannot seem to focus (aka me). The standard way to do it is to set a timer for 25 minutes during which you do as much homework as you can, then you take a break for 5 minutes. After repeating the cycle 3 times, you take a long break for 15-30 minutes. I usually set the timer for 20 minutes, take a break for 5, and take a long break for 15 minutes. If I am feeling overwhelmed, I set the timer to do homework for 15 minutes just to start because I always end up easing into a flow-state that makes me want to keep working anyway. 

This was perfect for me because I just had to focus on the 15-20 minutes ahead of me instead of sitting down with the purpose of studying for hours on end. There are other variations of this method as well, such as animedoro which involves alternating between working for 40-60 minutes and watching an anime episode of about 20 minutes. 

Time Blocking  

I use this technique most often while doing homework and use the Pomodoro Method when I am doing one big assignment, such as a long paper. Time blocking involves separating your day into chunks of time designated to different activities while still leaving room to spare just in case. I plan my weeks out on my calendar by putting in classes, Her Campus meetings, and other activities that are scheduled at a specific time. I then give myself a window of time to do everything else I need to do that day. 

When it specifically comes to doing homework, I use time blocking to limit the amount of time I spend on homework, so I do not burn myself out. I give myself 2-4 assignments per day and make sure they add up to about 2-4 hours of homework. I then think about how long each individual task should take me and give myself that amount of time to do it. This has helped a ton with time management and increasing my productivity. It reassures me that I will have free time if I stay on task.  

Study Buddy 

Lastly, the environment in which you do homework highly influences productivity. Studying in the library filled with other students, outside of The Edge or Kahwa, or another location where other students are quietly working has helped me stay on task. Being among students who are productive makes me want to be productive. I almost feel guilty going on my phone for too long while other students are hard at work. It is also a way to minimize distractions, especially if the location requires silence to a degree. 

On days I have felt lazy, I focus on simply getting up and getting ready. Once I am dressed and out of the door, I might as well go and start my day. Once I am in the library, I might as well do something because that was the whole purpose of getting there. Personally, I also enjoy romanticizing the process. I sometimes will bring a fun beverage or snack, choose a pretty location in which to do my homework, play jazz or lofi café music in my ear buds, or bring a book to read during my breaks. That is my version of romanticizing the process. 

To recap, the Feynman Technique and the Loci Method are fabulous ways to retain information using logic and critical thinking, which help if you later want to be able to apply the material. The Loci Method is especially helpful for visual learners, while the Feynman Technique involves a more verbal approach. Spaced Repetition is helpful when large amounts of information need to be memorized. I found it most beneficial during the learning process, while the two previous techniques proved to be most effective during the study process.  

When it comes to reducing distractions and coping with overwhelm, the Pomodoro Method and Time Blocking proved to be very helpful. These techniques help build an understanding of time management and discipline in a way that allows flexibility for life to happen, if you know what I mean. Finally, choosing a good study environment is also very helpful in reducing distractions and can even be motivational if you find a way to love the process of achieving your goals. 

Hi, my name is Sofia! I was born in Santiago, Dominican Republic, but I am also Colombian on my mom's side. I am a student majoring in Health Sciences at the University of South Florida St Petersburg campus. I am pursuing a career in neuroscience. I enjoy being involved on campus, dancing, reading, going to museums, trying new things, and listening to music!