November means deadline season! If you are a university student, you are probably drowning in work right now. To help you make it through this stressful time with the best results possible, here are our top 10 studying tips for deadline season.
1.Use a planner
This might sound boring or unnecessary, but a planner is vital for keeping track of all your deadlines and appointments. It also allows you to schedule regular study sessions as well as some free time, which will help to make deadline season a little less stressful.
2. Make to-do lists
You have probably heard about this tip before but making a detailed list of the things you want to achieve every day and ticking them off as you go can be beneficial for motivation and avoiding procrastination. Make sure to break down bigger assignments into smaller tasks, so your to-do list seems more manageable.
3. Organise your study space
Having a clear, tidy study space can help you to keep focused over longer time periods. Research has also shown that studying in a variety of different environments can be beneficial, as it allows the brain to build different associations, resulting in better recall.
4. Eliminate distractions
Prior to each study session, make sure to eliminate every possible distraction. It might be helpful to block diverting apps on your digital devices. Maybe also consider silencing alerts on your phone or leaving it in another room altogether. If you can focus better listening to music, try to choose tracks without lyrics.
5. Use active study techniques
Have you ever spent hours reading a textbook while feeling like you are not learning anything at all? This might have been because reading is a passive study method which does not require actively engaging with the material and is therefore not very effective. A much more efficient way to study is using active study techniques. These include testing yourself on past papers, creating flashcards or mind maps and using the Feynman Technique. The latter is explained in more detail here, but the essential idea is that you explain a concept to either a friend or yourself without using unnecessarily technical language.
6. Try the Pomodoro technique
One of the reasons why we procrastinate is that an assignment seems too big or too unmanageable. The Pomodoro technique helps to break down bigger pieces of work into smaller tasks. At the beginning of a study session, you select a single task you want to complete. Then, you set a timer for 25 minutes to exclusively focus on this task. This intense period of study is followed by a five-minute break. The cycle is repeated for as long as necessary, with longer breaks after four to five sessions.
7. Take regular breaks
Even though it may seem like a waste of time, taking breaks is essential for studying effectively. Studies have shown that memory performance declines over time, so breaks are vital for regaining your focus and keeping study sessions as effective as possible. You could use your breaks to chat with a friend, grab a snack or stretch.
8. Look after yourself
This goes along with the breaks mentioned in the previous studying tip, but it is very important to look after your mental and physical health during deadline season. Try to eat mostly nutritious food, including “brain food” like fatty fish, broccoli, nuts and dark chocolate. Getting enough sleep is also important, as sleep is critical for converting information from the short-term into long-term memory. Furthermore, try to exercise regularly and make time for activities that you enjoy. In the end, no grade is worth sacrificing your health for.
9. Try not to cram
We have probably all done this before. It is the night before an exam, and you are desperately trying to memorise the material of a whole semester. Even though it might be tempting to leave revision to the last minute, you should try to avoid this “cramming” at all costs. Retention suffers in long study sessions because the mind fatigues and you lose focus after a certain amount of time. Therefore, cramming is not only unnecessarily stressful but also highly ineffective. Instead, try to spread out your study sessions over a longer period of time.
10. Remember your WHY
It is easy to forget in a demanding deadline season, but try to remember why you chose to study your course at university in the first place. Are there any specific goals you are working towards? Eventually, deadline season is going to pass, but your achievements are going to stay.
As you can see, there is a variety of studying tips which will hopefully make your deadline season a little less stressful. Remember – this time is going to pass eventually, so stay strong. You got this!