Got a quiz coming up, a paper to write or a big test to prep for? Try these science-backed study tips and supercharge your study time. Because before you design the world’s first self-flying car or run in the 2036 presidential election, you have to get that degree.
1. Try timeboxing
Timeboxing is time-management system that focuses on tasks accomplished, not time spent. So instead of saying, “I have one hour to study one million paintings for my Art History final,” you’d say, “I have one hour to memorize the titles and artists of 30 Renaissance paintings.”
There’s a reason most of us focus better the night before a paper is due. It’s because we have to focus and get it done! Turn that principle into a smart study tip. Timeboxing allows you to apply the same focus to any task, no matter when you’re completing it.
2. Try space repetition system (SRS) learning
Space repetition is a tactic that has been long used by language learners, especially for character-based languages like Japanese. But it can also shave serious time off of memorization for any subject, from foreign languages to anatomy to those million paintings.
Here’s how it works: instead of mindlessly flipping through flashcards, you rate each card from 1 to 5 for how well you remembered the answer. Then in subsequent study sessions, you review your less-confident cards more frequently. Luckily there are plenty of apps available that make creating your own SRS deck super easy. There are some good ones listed here.
3. Put your phone away. Far, far away.
Research shows that just having your phone with you can deplete your focus and gnaw away at your concentration. Or, as the Science People put it: “The Mere Presence of One’s Own Smartphone Reduces Available Cognitive Capacity.” Think of it like this: it’s not a matter of discipline. Your brain becomes so conditioned to checking your phone, you literally can’t stop yourself if the screen is within grabbing distance. Scary? Slightly. Reality? You bet.
So just do yourself a favor and give yourself some space. Give your phone to your mom, your RA, your neighbor, or just leave it at home when you go to the library. And make sure those frisky push notifications are switched off!
4. Don’t multitask.
Bad news for all of you who are reading this while watching a video while texting a friend while writing a paper: research finds that “heavy media multitaskers” (people who tend to have several screens or windows up) have worse working memory and long-term memory. That means it’s harder to retain information when you’re working on something (say, studying for a test) and when you’re trying to call it up later (when you’re taking the test). Eep.
The solution? Stick to one activity at a time. Oh, and put your phone away.
5. Use online tools.
If you can find an online study hack, why not use it? As long as all your work is original, there are so many tools out there that can help you manage your workload. If you need to make a works cited page, an annotated bibliography or even an APA title page, try EasyBib’s free and easy citation generator. Save time making citations and spend it on polishing your paper!
There are also lots of interactive textbook solutions available online that can help you make sense of problem sets and tough information. Remember, no one has to struggle alone!
Welcome to the new era of studying. With these pro study tips, you’ll be ready to hit the books, hit the sack, then hit the ground running. You for president!