5 Hurdles to Avoid When Studying
Not all studying hurdles are equal. Some make you think you’re learning effectively, others are pure distractions, taking away your time and energy. All these hurdles can lead a student to become demotivated and more stressed. “When you study, you’re using your “working memory” – that means you are holding and manipulating several bits of information in your head at once.” UOW. Therefore it is incredibly easy to become distracted from the task at hand, making your studying less effective.
Here are 5 major hurdles to avoid when studying:
1. Technology as a distraction
TV, IPad, Music, Social Media – these are the main culprits that we all know about. That’s why music with lyrics in it is more likely to distract you than stimulate you – this means the TV show you have playing in the background will distract you too.
- Create a quiet environment that isn’t a main thoroughfare for the house or building. The dining room table could be good if it is not near the family TV, or even a separate desk.
- If you want to play music in the background make sure it doesn’t have lyrics in it, or better yet play nature sounds.
- Use the “Do Not Disturb” function that is on all smart devices now. Here is how to do it on Apple and Android devices. You can also set Parental Controls/Locks to schedule device access time – see here for Apple and Android Devices.
Remember, you’ve dedicated a certain amount of time to study on the one subject, so make it count.
Cramming occurs because of procrastination. Leaving all studying or preparation until the last few hours and you end up sacrificing sleep, a proper meal or your weekly soccer training just to fit in the study time you neglected. Cramming creates undue stress and you’re less likely to remember all of the details you need.
Start by creating an easy to maintain and follow routine. You can start small, 15 minutes of studying a day before breakfast for example. You then work your way to prioritising your tasks, considering deadlines and scheduling your downtime.
Use our Study Timetable found here, to get you back on track.
Doing many things at once can feel like we are more productive. Studies have shown that multitasking is not only inefficient but decreases the quality of your work (forbes.com). Slowing you down and maintaining quality information are the purpose of studying.
Create study timetable. This not only helps you plan to reduce stress and eliminate cramming, but it helps you to focus on one thing at a time. Focusing on one thing at a time and doing it well will lead to higher productivity.
4. Overdoing it
We tend to think that the longer we study something the more we will retain. In fact the opposite happens. We can only concentrate for around an hour at a time, sometimes less, so it is important to have regular breaks to help with memory retention.
Schedule your study time to be anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes long with a minimum of a 15 minute break in between, with longer breaks to eat a proper meal and exercise.
Here are some things you can do during your short break:
- 15 minute stretch of your hamstrings, back, neck, shoulders
- Take the dog for a walk around the block
- Have a snack
- Have a power nap
- Do some arts and crafts, like drawing or origami! Doing something completely different will help your brain settle down
- Don’t watch TV or play a computer game. You won’t want to go back to studying.
When using the study timetable, remember to schedule in break times also.
5. Reading to study
Reading your own notes can become tedious very quickly. This is not an adequate enough study tool as it is recitation only and not making any links between concepts. Studying needs to be active, it has to encourage you to think and test our the process.
Here are some study tricks you can try instead of reading:
- Rewrite your notes in a new or different notebook, then try to summarise them
- Highlight your notes and use different colours for different things to link concepts
- Record yourself reading your notes out loud then play it back to listen to later.
- Draw pictures or diagrams
- Explain it to someone else, or find a way to say it differently.
The key to effective studying practices is all about routine and maintenance. You do a little bit every day and you’ll be able to progress through the topics with greater ease.
Download our Free Study Timetable to get back into the routine of school.