So it’s no joke, I have been stuck in the study books for the past month and I have another month to go. I go through emotions with this – I love it, it’s amazing and motivating and the course work is intriguing – to – What am I doing to myself, I want to sleep and seriously, if I don’t pass my life is over.
Truthfully though, my life won’t be over, I am still sleeping 8 hours a night and I seem to fit in exercise and a bit of socialising too, as well as the normal work day. And when I want to gain perspective I think of those people doing exactly this, but also running a family with kids and three dogs. I like to call these people immortal!
Anyway, in my happy ‘I Love Studying’ moment the other day, I was climbing into bed and started to reflect on why I was in such a good mood. What factors had influenced my determination and what factors had led me to this positive state of mind while studying. The benefit of reflection is that you can use the insights to alter your daily activities in order to incorporate these actions into your daily life, ultimately influencing your studying time for the better.
So, here are my 5 tips to smart studying
- Exercise: Possibly the most important for me. I am a firm believer in study breaks, but using them to catch up on reading or TV doesn’t help me while studying. Take a walk or a jog around the block. I like to drag my boyfriend around with me, so that I have company and someone to chat to and laugh with. Give your eyes a break, give your body a splash of vitamin D (sunlight) and get your blood moving again. Interesting about exercising: “exercising can help us learn and remember.” – New York Times
- Eat clean: Probably the biggest defeat while studying – constantly looking for a distraction snack. I have loaded my house with dried fruit, nuts, seeds, yogurt, apples and herbal teas. Second to snacking is that you tend to have less time to cook. Between 1000 things on your mind, you have to think about cooking dinner too! Try plan in advance. Use your study break to WALK to the shops (if possible) and grab a bunch of green veggies. Use these to make a green veggie soup, which is warming, filling and comforting during those long study nights. Avoid sugary foods at all costs. These cause drastic drops in blood sugar, leaving you tired and moody afterwards. Furthermore, nutrient deficiencies from a poor diet are going to impact your alertness and your body’s ability to cope with stress. It is of particular importance to support your body’s stress response system during this time, and that means eating a nutrient-dense, clean and healthy diet.
- Breathe a bit: It’s difficult not to get caught up in the time-crushing studying, but, I find that if I plan a social activity then I tend to work smarter and faster with the time that I do have. It’s not normal to spend 7 days a week locked in a room with artificial lighting, study snacks, slippers, tea and music as your only friend. Go out for a walk with friends, laugh, interact, enjoy the time you have spent with them. It’s easier to say than do, I must admit, but at the end of the day, it makes that study time that much more efficient. (for me anyway)
- Read the Learning Outcomes: Now this is something I have only quite clicked onto in my latter years of studying. I must say, I did waste a lot of time and effort previously on trying to revise ALL coursework. By focusing on the learning outcomes, you can narrow down the workload and focus on the probable exam questions. We have the nature of trying to do the best at absolutely everything and that means … ‘but what IF they ask this question?’ It’s a toughie but in the end of the day, the examiners should be assessing your knowledge of facts relating to the learning outcomes and so these should be your focus.
- Sleep: I see this everywhere and quite honestly, I have no problem getting enough sleep. I prefer to go to sleep early and wake up early, but that’s entirely personal. Making sure you get at least 8 hours of sleep a night is crucial to avoid burnout and fatigue. Your brain will be more efficient if it can stay awake without 50000 different stimulants. Sleep allows your brain time to rest and prepare for the next long day ahead. Let it work it’s natural power!
- Last sneaky one – Teach someone what you have learnt: Shame, don’t bore your work colleagues, family and friends (I might be guilty here) with countless amounts of information, but find the right situation where you can teach someone something you have learnt. When you do this, the brain is also teaching itself to remember. So even though you are teaching them, you are teaching you too!
Now that I have started writing, I feel like I could go on and on. But it’s time for me to put these to practice