New school year, new you! Or at least that’s how it should be, but why are those bad study habits so hard to shake? Maintaining a schedule, sticking to deadlines, setting goals: they come so easily to some, and not at all to others. Ironically, research found that not only did people who procrastinate earn lower grades than their peers, but they also reported higher amounts of stress!
Why do some of us leave our revision to the last minute or not bother at all?
Procrastination is when you delay cracking open that dusty textbook in favour of an hour of your favourite show or going out with friends or scrolling through social media. The hit of dopamine you get short-term feels good even in the face of negative consequences and if you perceive something to be unpleasant, you’re far more likely to put it off.
People who procrastinate tend to have high levels of anxiety as well as poor impulse control, so if you find yourself continually shrugging off studying obligations, it’s important to take back control and foster effective techniques to save yourself some grief later on! In fact, a good, sustainable study routine has far-reaching implications for not only your grade performance, but also your future workplace achievements and beyond.
Follow these five handy tips to help you foster those healthy habits today!
1. Break Down Big Tasks into Smaller Ones
Dividing big tasks into smaller chunks gives way to the creation of achievable goals. ‘Get an A in Maths’ might seem an intimidating goal at first glance, so instead try listing one or two tasks you can achieve in 10 minutes towards this. Why not try ‘tackle a new Maths problem’ or even ‘revise my times tables’?
Committing to small tasks and following through not only helps to polish your skills, but also builds trust in yourself: You can find the missing co-efficient; you can sit down and crack open that textbook even for 15 minutes; you can ace that exam!
Trusting yourself will help you feel more in control of your circumstances and will give you confidence to tackle your goals. Studies have shown how higher self-efficacy translates to greater success in areas like academic performance, activating reward networks in the brain. If you believe, you really can achieve!
2. Minimise Distractions and Temptations
Preparing for that exam? Choose wisely!
Set yourself up for success by placing yourself in a physical space away from temptations where you might not get much done! Swap ‘revising’ in bed with studying at the library or at quiet spaces for students like you.
Whether it is the lighting or the clutter, or how much noise you’re exposed to, factors that influence where you choose to buckle down and hit the books really do matter. Studies have shown that students learning in naturally lit environments typically achieve grades that are 25% higher than their counterparts!
If you’re in London, consider some of these alternative spots for your next study session.
3. Employ Active Learning Strategies
How you study determines your grade performance. Endlessly reading chapter after chapter or listening to lecture recordings isn’t the most effective method and is in fact a passive way of letting information sift through you. Instead, consider using an active learning strategy: techniques like self-quizzing and explaining concepts resulted in exam results that were up to 10% higher!
Active learning techniques can include:
Teaching someone else a concept you’re revising. This will force you to explain key terms in different ways and the person you’re teaching might ask questions you hadn’t considered before.
Writing a summary of ideas, including definitions and examples, will help you commit them more to memory.
Practise solving different problems with a peer to share feedback with each other.
Consider finding a seasoned tutor who can share study strategies with you and who can help guide you through your coursework, if you’re finding it difficult to do alone!
4. Stick to Your Schedule
Schedules will help you break down and commit to your list of tasks, but if you lack motivation, try rewarding yourself after each completed task!
A schedule that is all work and no play isn’t sustainable, so why not shake it up by trying a largely unstructured, flexible schedule in which you slot in only what is necessary? By rewarding yourself and clocking how much time has been spent, your chances of feeling overwhelmed will decrease whilst your sense of achievement and satisfaction will shoot up!
5. Be Realistic but Positive
Remember the ‘Get an A in Maths’? What if you want to do that in one month’s time and are currently predicted to be a C at most?
Changing habits and putting in the effort to meet a goal takes time, and having unrealistic expectations you know you aren’t able to achieve is setting yourself up for failure. Perhaps a more achievable goal would be to ‘improve on my predicted score’ or even ‘retake the exam next term’.
Goals can really be divided into Immediate, Short-Term, and Long-Term goals, so think carefully about what you can do ‘in the now’ as opposed to ‘six months down the line’! Consider using the SMART acronym when goal setting so that you can set yourself up for success!
Blog Post Crafted by Cheryl
Cheryl manages our Admin Team, and is a qualified teacher with 5 years' experience in schools across England and Canada.
Cheryl graduated from McMaster University with an Honours Bachelor of Commerce and a Minor in English, and from University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Education, with a specialisation in Aboriginal Studies. She tutored secondary school students in English for over nine years in Canada.
Cheryl speaks Cantonese, English and French, and in her spare time, she can be found illustrating and reading children’s books for inspiration.