27 August 2015
Fall semester is coming! After a summer of working, travelling, and having fun with friends, it can be hard to settle back down into a regular study routine. That’s especially true if you’re a naturally active person. Here are seven easy ways to get back into the groove.
1. Take Small Bites
As with any new task, setting tough goals will discourage you before you even get started. For example, to someone who is out of shape, walking even half a mile might sound overwhelming. But you don’t have to fall into the trap of all-or-nothing thinking. The new exerciser might start by simply walking to the end of the driveway to get the mail. It sounds silly, but it’s better than sitting on the couch, and just getting outside often encourages people to walk farther than they planned.
When it comes to studying, at first you might sit down for just 10 to 15 minutes at a time. As you get more used to focusing, gradually increase the length of your study sessions until you can get through 30 to 60 minutes of continuous work before taking a break.
2. Pair Up
Study groups are a great idea, because your study mates will hold you accountable. You’ll have to show up at a certain time and be somewhat prepared. Not fond of large groups? See if you can find just one person in your class who’s willing to be your personal study buddy. The two of you can meet in the library, under a tree, or in many other quiet places on campus.
3. Start a Ritual
After a full day of classes, workouts, and possibly a part-time job, it may be hard to wind down and get into study mode. Try to come up with a pre-study action that sends a signal to your brain that it’s time to quiet down and get to work. Just like Pavlov’s dogs learned to respond to a bell, you can come up with your own personal activation ritual. You might meditate for five minutes, put on some classical music, pop in a piece of gum, or type out everything that’s on your mind into a journal so you can empty your mind of distracting thoughts.
4. Create Space
Whether you prefer to study on your bed or at a desk, you should create an environment that makes you want to spend time in it. If you’re going to study on your bed, make the bed so it doesn’t invite you to take a nap instead. Have a small table beside you where you can set all your supplies. If you like to sit at a desk, make sure the surface isn’t too cluttered to use. Be sure your chair is comfortable and is at the right height for keyboarding on your laptop. Of course, you can always find a study carrel at the library if that works better for you.
5. Think Ahead
It might sound silly, but use the restroom before you sit down to study. Turn off your phone. Turn on a fan or adjust the blinds to block the afternoon sun. Take care of anything that might pop up in the middle of your study period and tempt you to get up and walk away. Get a bottle of water and a snack ready beforehand, and have it within reach of wherever you’re sitting.
6. Reward Yourself
Everybody likes to be rewarded for good behavior. Your reward for studying is good grades, but those reports may be months away. What’s the pay off now? Well, create your own by building rewards into your study plan. First of all, schedule regular breaks every half-hour or hour. Next, make a list of things you want to buy or do, and make a note of how many hours you have to study before you can get what you want. It’ll keep you going!
7. Face Facts
Still not motivated to study? Take a look at the last semester’s grade report, your tuition bill, or that letter about your academic probation. On the more positive side, remind yourself of your larger goal to graduate with honours or fulfill your career dreams. The cold, hard facts of life will get your nose into those books in no time.
Useful samples and examples: