One of people’s biggest misconceptions about me is that I study all the time and that’s how I get straight As. I personally would say that I’m more of a smart worker than a hard worker. I know what strategies are successful for me and I won’t waste a second more. I am all about efficiency and getting the biggest output from the least amount of time. So how do I do it?
Eyes on the prize
If I’m working, I’m working. I don’t camp out in the library and half-ass study while watching Netflix and hanging with friends. I’ve got better things to do than spend day after day at uni!
I tend to use a form of the Pomodoro Technique. The Pomodoro Technique can help you power through distractions and get things done in quick bursts, by breaking the work down into smaller intervals that are spaced out by short breaks.
Getting started on any study session is a challenge, so I grab a coffee and just tell myself ‘only ten minutes’. I begin with just ten minutes of full focus on the task at hand, and I’ll give myself the option of taking a break after time’s up. If I were to take the break then I will allow myself to listen to one song and do whatever I want until the song is over, but usually ten minutes is enough to get stuck in and actually not want to quit so soon. After that point I will do 20 minute intervals with the aforementioned ‘song break’ until I’ve done what I set out to achieve.
I highly recommend putting your phone onto Airplane mode if you tend to get distracted. Better yet, download (and activate!) Self Control, a free app for macOS that lets you block your own access to distracting websites, your mail servers, or anything else on the Internet. Just set a period of time to block for, add sites to your blacklist, and click “Start.”
Play the game
I do not give two f***s what my notes look like. While it certainly doesn’t hurt, there’s no use having pretty Pinterest-able study notes if you cannot recall nor utilise the concepts learned.
If I attend lectures then I will take notes on Google Docs (always!) because I simply type faster than I handwrite. I store everything in the Cloud so that I can work from anywhere, anytime and pick up from where I left off. I also plan my tasks out using Trello so that I can access my to-do lists from any device.
In preparation for tests and exams, I will buy a bunch of cheap 1B5 exercise books, one for each paper. In there I will summarise the content required, using my Google Docs, lecture slides and readings, in words that are meaningful to me. Note the use of ‘required’ – don’t forget to play the game. Not gonna be in the test = doesn’t go in the 1B5.
From there, it’s flashcard time. I take my 1B5 and I highlight all of the definitions and equations (if applicable). I handwrite my flashcards so that the additional act of re-writing the content is another opportunity to get it in my head. If possible, I will either read the terms and definitions aloud to myself, or better yet, call on a mate/parent to quiz me for as long as I can persuade them to.
Once I’ve got the general gist of the subject, it’s time for past exams. Back in high school I would do every single past exam that was available online but nowadays ain’t nobody got time for that. Two-to-three suffice for me.
Strike while the iron’s hot
One time I came home from clubbing in Ponsonby at 3am, still
tipsy but with a great idea for a marketing essay – I smashed out 3,000 words on the spot. Definitely had to proof-read that one in the morning and remove some creative freedom (haha). I ended up getting 99% on that essay. I wouldn’t exactly recommend that scenario on a regular basis – but you get the idea 😉
While it doesn’t happen super often, if you suddenly get a bright idea or inspiration strikes, make sure to take advantage of it right then and there.
TLDR: Work smarter, not harder.
Best of luck if you’re stu[dying] this Semester Two!