How to make self-study more productive | Seven smart tips
If you feel like there just aren’t enough hours in a day to finish all that you need to get done, you are certainly not alone. The answer to breaking free from this nagging feeling of not getting enough done lies in looking at the big picture.
Updated on 6 May 2021, 5:28 am
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Homework, assignments, projects, studying for tests, catching up on extra study material…throw hobbies, sports and socializing into the mix and a student’s life can seem like a constant race against the clock. If you feel like there just aren’t enough hours in a day to finish all that you need to get done, you are certainly not alone. The answer to breaking free from this nagging feeling of not getting enough done lies in looking at the big picture. You have 168 hours at your disposal every week. Making each hour count is the key to leading a balanced life. The idea of self-study is not to spend every waking hour glued to your books but to make your study hours count by learning more effectively, so you can aim for top grades and yet have a life outside your academic pursuits.
To help you achieve that, here are seven smart tips to make self-study more productive:
1. Add Variety to Your Ways of Learning
Staring at the same textbooks for hours at end, day after day, can get monotonous and hamper your productivity levels. Research studies show that different media can stimulate different areas of the brain, and heightened brain activity is associated with better learning abilities. In this technology-powered age, there is no dearth of sources to learn from. You could improve your productivity by mixing it up a little. Besides reading your textbooks and class notes, refer to video tutorial, online sources and Digital books to receive the same information from a variety of sources. This will not only help keep your mind fresh and attentive but also improve your retention power.
2. Juggle Between Subjects
Every course has at least five to six subjects in the curriculum. Instead of focusing on one subject every day, studying two or three different ones helps in improving effectiveness. For example, if you have maths, social science, science, computers, English and Hindi as your course subjects, it is better to study a bit of any two or three subjects every day instead of dedicating one week day for each subject. Combinations with diverse subjects work best for enhancing productivity. For instance, instead of studying maths and science together, you can combine with English or social science. This way you are less likely to confuse the information assimilated from different subjects and your brain has a better chance of consolidating whatever you have learnt.
3. Steer Clear of Multitasking
It is a common misconception that multitasking can help you achieve more in less time. A great deal of research has been done into the effects of multitasking and the writing is one the wall – trying to juggle too many balls in the air only makes your more distracted and less productive. The secret to making self-study sessions more productive is to focus on just one task at a time. It is, therefore, imperative to resist the urge to study while watching television, eating, texting your friends or checking your social media feeds. If you use the internet for studying, having a secondary device solely for accessing e-learning apps and study materials is advisable. If that’s not an option, make it a point to temporarily turn off the notifications on your phone or put it on silent mode so that you are not distracted by the constant beeps and alerts. If you are using a computer, steer clear of opening multiple tabs on your computer.
4. Inculcate the Habit of Making Notes by Hand
Hand-written notes are the best way to allow your brain to absorb and process the information you are gathering as you study. Yes, you already have your textbook lessons and classroom notes to help you learn different topics and concepts but the process of taking in bits of information and then reproducing them in your own words helps in improving concept clarity and understanding. This way you are not just mindlessly cramming information without actually processing it as you go.
5. Test Yourself Regularly
Self-testing is a proven tool for improving academic performance. If you go on reading your textbooks and class notes passively, you have no way to know how much of it you have actually understood and retained. Do not wait for class tests or exams to put your knowledge to test. Take it upon yourself to put your learning to test through small quizzes, sample question papers and mock test Series. This will give you a reality check on your progress and help you identify your weak areas. Consequently, you can re-work your self-study strategy to work on the topics and subjects that you find yourself lagging behind in.
6. Read Out Loud
Reading out loud can help improve your learning abilities by leaps and bounds. When you read any text out loud, you not only see but also hear it. This prevents your mind from wandering and helps you focus better. In contrast, when you read silently, you are only seeing the text, and thus, the chances of getting lost in your train of thoughts in higher. Of course, reading out every single word from chapter can prove to be a tiring and time-consuming exercise. To get the best out of this trick, underline or highlight the key point of any topic when it is taught in the classroom and just read these key points out loud when you study these lessons at home.
7. Take Regular Breaks
Being holed up in your room till you have finished all the assigned tasks of the day may seem like the right way to get more done in less time but in reality it proves counter-productive. On the contrary, taking regular breaks can help enhance productivity and focus. Instead of aiming for a single six-hour sitting, divide your study time in smaller spells of 40 to 60 minutes each. At the end of each session, take a 5-10-minute break to walk around, drink some water, have a quick snack or just talk to someone. It is a good idea to use a stopwatch or alarm to remind yourself to take a break and resume studying as per your schedule.
At the end of each day, reward yourself for a job well done, if you’ve managed to meet you day’s goals, by indulging in a fun, relaxing activity of your choice. This will motivate you to keep going and set you up for a fresh start the next day.
Retired Principal, Government Girls Senior Secondary School, MHR Malout, Punjab