How to Efficiently Study – 19 Tips You Can Implement Today

Updated on 21/05/2024 in
How to Efficiently Study - 19 Tips You Can Implement Today

Mundane ways of studying are no longer working. It is not enough to just memorise the material. You have to learn efficiently and smartly.

This article will give you 19 tips on becoming a better student and creating an excellent studying strategy.

Know why you should study

Why should you study at all? That’s the dilemma almost everyone has faced in school.
You should know why you are studying something and its practical implication. Or how can you apply it in a larger context?

It’s even better if you can align it with your own goals. For example, imagine you want to be a successful student in your class in a medical school. If you have that goal, studying additional materials for your classes will become less hassle. You can build study strategies around your goals, which will help you study as efficiently as possible.

Think positively - Focus on the tasks you’ve completed

When you focus on your positive accomplishments, your subconscious mind will like it and try to do more of it. Forget about the negative things. You can continually improve and do things better.

That’s literally the plot of most movies. The main character faces a challenging, impossible problem and solves it by acting consistently (discipline), believing in themselves, and not giving up.

This kind of story has been told for thousands of years!

Learn from them and act like the main characters there. Become the main character of your life.

Why discipline matters

To improve your study habits, you absolutely have to discipline yourself. All successful students share one thing in common: they are disciplined and continue improving daily.

American billionaire Warren Buffet also supports this philosophy and says:

“We don’t have to be smarter than the rest. We have to be more disciplined than the rest.”

The following tips for effective studying will give you information on how to do that!

The proper way to discipline yourself

People say that it takes 21 or 60 days to develop a habit. But that’s not true. Neurologically speaking, you need from 18 days to a full year. On average, to create a pattern, you will need 66 days. If you are interested in knowing more, you can check out this excellent article from Woman’s Health Research Institute.

But even that is unreasonable. All you need is a reason! If you have, you are why you will happily wake up earlier in the morning. You will look forward to the next day and the challenges unfolding before you.

If you want to stop smoking and are fed up with it, you should do it. (Unless you are addicted)

You just need to commit to your decisions.

It all starts with day 1 of your decision. Then you just have to roll with it. Even if you fail somewhere, you continue the next day again.

Make a schedule - What gets measured gets done

You might have heard this saying, but it’s true! You must understand how you will achieve your goals.

Let’s say your vision stretches to the future in 10 years. Well, 10 years is too long, and it gives you no clue what you should do NOW to make it a reality.

Make a roadmap. Also, learn how to make schedules with goals. What are you going to do today? Tomorrow? This week? This month? This year?

You get the idea.

Set up S.M.A.R.T. goals

The next step is to set up S.M.A.R.T. goals –

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

This is a surefire formula to effectively set goals.

You know exactly what to work towards by making sure your goal is specific. Measurable means that there is a way you can track progress. And that it gets done. Achievable helps you realise what you can and should do. Relevancy enables you to determine the priority of the goal. And lastly, if the goal is time-bound, you start holding yourself accountable. Using the vision and a schedule that you made before for your vision, you finally begin to make some real progress.

Make a mind map

You should also develop an efficient studying strategy. A mindmap can be a great tool to visualise all aspects of your goals. Start with a core idea of your vision and connect it to other parts of your life. Continue thinking about how each direction/branch should develop. Again, what do you want your life to be like?

Focus on the process!

Don’t focus on the result; focus on the process. This is a great studying habit you should absolutely develop. It relieves a lot of stress and helps you realise that you will always move forward as long as you continue practising.

For example, let’s say you make a schedule, and like most of us at max, you will achieve only 70% of the original goals. Or even only 50%. Should you be sad? No, you shouldn’t be! Because you are making a lot of progress, 50% beats 0% by a long shot! And as long as you try to be better, for example, 50,5% effective the following week.

Continue improving yourself, and you will become a very successful student and a successful person in general.

Pomodoro technique

Try the Pomodoro technique. It is an effortless and effective way to improve your studying habits. All you have to do is:

  1. Sit down, set up a timer and study for 20 minutes.
  2. Then stop studying and relax for 5-15 minutes.
  3. Repeat 4 times and take a more extended break.
  4. Repeat.

Focus on the process and learn how to use this technique. You will be much less stressed, and you will be able to study effectively. The longer you use the Pomodoro technique, the better you become at it. The better you become, the longer you will be able to study.

Stop cramming everything and learn to relax

Most people cram everything together and study this way without resting for hours. This stresses your brain a lot, and it’s no wonder that you don’t feel like studying. Yes, discipline is a must, but you also have to rest. Study smarter and reward your brain – let your mind rest and process all the new information.

You will improve over time, and if you are consistent, you will develop excellent studying habits!

Repetition is key!

Repeat reading these materials throughout the week to ensure you memorise the new materials and skills. This way, when you recall the information you have already learned, the neural pathways in your brain become stronger. This means you can recall the newly learned information much better, and other information about the same topic will be much easier to learn!

How to Efficiently Study - 19 Tips You Can Implement Today

Make your own approach to studying.

Every one of us is an individual. So you should forget the “right ways to do things” because they might not apply to you. Some people are already disciplined and can study for 6 hours every day. There’s a big difference because you should ignore all the other people and focus on yourself. You should still listen to them as their advice might be useful.

But nonetheless, the principle is the same. You have your own vision, your own life and your own ways of doing things. Studying is no exception.

So don’t forget to make plans and other things personalised, especially for you.

If something is overwhelming, break it down.

Sometimes some things are just too hard to study or do. For example, an exam at the end of the year might be overwhelming because of how much information you have to know to pass it. It might be so overwhelming that it’s scary.

Our tip for studying tough materials and exams is to break them down. If you know the exam’s key topics, you can focus on them or study them individually. Deconstruct your issues and deal with the leftover pieces of it one by one.

This principle is universal, and you can apply it to many problems. It helps to remove procrastination too!

Reward yourself - make positive associations with studying

“Mix business with pleasure.”

For example, reward yourself by eating your favourite chocolate and watching an episode of your favourite series once you have finished your study session.

Listen to your favourite music whenever you work out.

Play with your pet after school.

Teach your brain that there are many good moments after hard ones.

Understand the study material. Don’t focus on memorising it.

Memorising the material helps many people in high school, but it won’t help you in a University. Usually, all you have to do is remember certain key points. But you rarely understood it, and that is a fatal flaw!

Understanding the material helps you much more in the long run!

Once you do understand it, you can see how each new piece relates to another. How they form a complex chunk of knowledge and how things work. For example, it is much easier to understand the writings of a particular philosopher or a writer if you know during which times they lived.

If you understand little chunks of information, you can assemble them and get the bigger picture!

Study In The Same Hours Each Day

This advice for effective studying is fascinating and can be applied to other activities. I found it to be very useful for working out too. Your brain creates a productive habit when you practice the same activity at the same hours every day. Because if you don’t do something during the times when you are usually busy, it feels very weird!

Study Efficiently by Creating a Habit

Establish A Studying Corner In Your Home

Some people overlook this, but it’s concluded that the place you study should be used ONLY for studying. Ensure you have everything (pens, pencils, highlighters). It’s also worth buying a studying lamp not only for better lighting.

You see, when you immerse yourself in your studying corner, something happens. Your brain develops a habit of thinking only of studying and nothing else. Having bright lighting also improves your mood! This is psychology right here. You need to trick your brain and put it in the right mood.

You can’t study in the kitchen or in your bed. Your mind already has habits regarding what to do when you are there. If you study in your kitchen or bed, it significantly negatively impacts your productivity.

Join a study group

If you don’t have a place in your home dedicated to work and studying, you can go to a library and sit among other students who study there. Once in a studying environment, you will want to follow everyone else’s example and study.

Eliminate Distractions

As banal as this may seem, please, put your cell phone away while studying. Nothing is worse than having to answer a text, call or notification during studying.

A lot of highly effective students have an excellent way of removing distractions. These students are very organised, and they monitor their time. Try making a list, and every hour write down what you do. For example, many people have a terrible habit of needlessly checking their e-mail. Once you find things, you can improve, eliminate distractions, and discipline yourself.

This is probably the most crucial thing you must do besides repeatedly practising. So make sure you turn off your phone’s sound when you start studying, or you might as well leave it in the other room.

Article written by Dr Sam El Mais
Dr Sam El Mais, MD, MSc, BSc, graduated from a renowned medical school in Romania in 2019. He uses his professional knowledge and personal experience to guide students on crucial aspects such as university selection, admissions processes, and cultural adjustments.
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