5 slightly unconventional study strategies that work

Your notes are sprawled across the table, cups of unfinished coffee sit patiently waiting and somewhere amongst the mess is a list of all the work you need to accomplish. Sound familiar? If so, we should be friends because that’s what my work space looks like at this time of year.

Read on, fellow studiers! Here are 5 tips that I hope will help you on your ‘end of semester journey’:

study mess

1. Listen to one awesome song from beginning to end. 

Problem: You feel unmotivated. The last thing that you want to do is sit down and study. Everything else in the world seems better than studying.

Solution: I find a song that I love, stick my headphones on and listen to it from beginning to end. This helps me to sit down at my work space, get some nice tunes for motivation and then I feel ready to get started.

2. Use noise cancelling headphones – even without music.

Problem: Distractions are everywhere! You are in a cafe and everyone is talking as loud as they can, or you are sitting in silence but every 10 minutes some random sound jolts you from that study focus you worked so hard to obtain.

Solution:  I use noise cancelling headphones to study – even when I’m not listening to music. They don’t cancel out noise perfectly, but I find everything is definitely more muffled, making it easier to focus on the task ahead. The UVic library has these for loan.

3. Save those “must see” videos for later

Problem:  You go to your Facebook feed and, oh look – a video on kittens has just started playing!. You read the comments, “so cute!”, “I LOVE KITTENS”, and “wow, I am so glad I watched this.” Now you are thinking, I have to watch this.

Solution:  When I see a “must see” video pop up, I add it to a list of videos I’ll watch later when I’m not in the middle of studying.

4. Use tiny pockets of time for exercise

Problem: Exercise has gone out the window. There is no time to work out and you’re studying for 10-15 hours a day. You feel sluggish and your productivity drops.

Solution: I try to find small moments in my day to get in some movement. For example, if I’m boiling water for tea at home (and I don’t want my fellow housemates see me doing jumping jacks in the kitchen), I’ll climb all the stairs in my house a few times.

5. Record yourself talking about your study material

Problem: So much stuff to memorize and wrap your brain around, so little time. Everything seems to go in one ear and out the other, causing panic and stress.

Solution:  I record myself talking about my study material. For example, I might read out key terms and listen to the recording right away, on a walk or on the bus. I know this may not sound fun and has the potential to be awkward, but I find it really helpful!

 Good luck with papers and exams!

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7 Responses

  1. Heather says:

    I definitely agree with using noise cancelling headphones, even without music. Even if I’m in a quiet study space, I still find myself using headphones to get as close to silence as possible.

  2. Kevin says:

    oh, the recording ideas sounds like it could be a winner! definitely gotta try that.

  3. Miranda says:

    Hey Kevin, thanks! So glad you’re going to try it out :).

  4. Kelly says:

    I’m recording my thesis presentation and then listening to it as I walk, cook and before I fall asleep to get my brain to memorize it for me! Good tips!

  5. Miranda says:

    Hi Kelly, thank you, glad you like the tips :D. That’s brilliant! Such a great way to multitask. I’ve done it for presentations too and it’s so helpful.

    Good luck on your thesis presentation!

  6. The Fonz says:

    #6: Study at a bar