A Guide to Studying for the ‘Easily-Distracted-and-Restless’
The season of papers and midterms is well upon us! Whenever I am studying or working away at research for a paper, I find myself staring into space for periods of time, frantically tapping my foot and frowning at the screen, day dreaming, or falling into the internet trap of Buzzfeed, Facebook, Pinterest or anything along those lines.
I’m unashamed to admit that it has taken me four years to figure out what it takes for me to be able to focus, be productive and not be completely miserable in the process. Does this sound like too much to ask? …possibly for certain tasks, but I am a big believer in the power of perspective and positivity, and I know there are some things that can take the edge off of a big day of school work. Everyone is individual, so find what does the trick for your learning and working style! I’ll share with you a few discoveries of my own that help me through the term.
LOCATION: While the library is great, it isn’t the only option to get things done. Switch it up to keep it from becoming redundant. Around campus there are plenty of options. I like the law library, Clearihue classrooms for those late nights. The Munchie Bar coffee shop in the Student Union Building is good for a time when I want to sip coffee and work a bit more casually.
Explore outside the campus by finding a new coffee shop, visiting a friends place, going to any of the public library locations around the city, or travel five minutes to our nearest beach if you have some readings to do! Go to a place that you find both calming and easy to focus in.
MUSIC: I like to listen to movie scores when studying or writing. There are no lyrics to distract me and the beautiful sounds keep me calm and focused. Here are some of my favourites:
PEOPLE: I like to surround myself with people who keep me accountable and are going to be focused on their respective tasks themselves. It is also nice to share the agony of the grind with a friend. You may, however, be someone who needs to be alone to be productive, so if that is the case then do what works for you!
FUEL: Don’t forget to eat and drink tons of water! Preparing food before hand and having it easily accessible will help keep your brain sharp and the ‘hanger’ at a minimum. I like to take food breaks to reset, so I will pack a salad bowl in a Tupperware container with some things that I really like in it – rice, chicken, pomegranate seeds, arugula, olive oil or goat cheese.
BREAKS: Breaks aren’t a bad thing! If you’re getting to that point where you’re staring at what you’re supposed to be reading but nothing is sticking in your head, it may be time to walk a lap or fill up your water bottle. It may lead to more productivity.
Maybe there’s something in my list that sparks your attention – point is, there isn’t one clear cut way to dive into study mode. Find what works for you and don’t beat yourself up if you are as easily distracted and restless as I am. Take a breath; take a 5 minute break and try again.