Got a lot of studying to do and not enough days to do it? Well then you’re gonna have to make the most of the days you do have! Here are 15 proven ways to help you study for long hours effectively!
1. Spaced Repetition
Spaced repetition is a technique that helps you actually absorb all the material you’re studying. To put it simply, instead of studying something for hours and hours, you space out the times to study that specific topic.
For example, instead of 3 hours of one topic, you study that topic for 10-30 minutes. Move onto another topic. After 30 minutes of another topic, come back to the first one for another 30 minutes. After the second study session for that specific topic, increase the time. So study something else for 2 hours. Then come back to that same topic.
2. Switch topics
Bulk studying one topic is actually pretty ineffective. Not to mention very boring. It will be overwhelming and your brain will likely just get tired and want to give into distractions.
Keep things interesting by always changing around the topics so that you’re never unbearably bored and if you do start to feel too overwhelmed, take a quick break, get some fresh air or a nourishing snack and then get back to it.
You can use spaced repetition as mentioned earlier to try and schedule your topics effectively.
3. Do different things
If your way of studying is devoted to one method, you’re not gonna get much studying done. The same thing over and over again can get tedious. That is why it’s important to switch up your studying method. You can alternate between the following:
- Past paper practice
- Flash cards
- Teach someone else
- Spider diagrams/mind maps
- Watch videos about the topic
- Quiz yourself (you can use apps like the “Anki App” or quizzlet for this)
4. Eat the right brain foods
It is very important to fuel yourself with the right kinds of foods for your studying. Sometimes lack of concentration or procrastination can be a result of fatigue and exhaustion and it might be because you’re not eating the right foods. So during your breaks, consider snacking on the following things.
When it comes to studying, you need foods that fuel your brain. Consider the following: fatty fish, coffee, blueberries, turmeric, broccoli, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, nuts (almonds), oranges, eggs and green tea.
Want to know what other foods you can eat to improve your brain health? Read our article on 11 superior foods that improve brain function for studying!
5. Take breaks when needed
If you’re not resting at appropriate times, it can often cause you to feel tremendous anxiety and stress. Your brain will feel overloaded and you probably won’t get much success out of studying.
So take breaks when you need to. Of course, this doesn’t mean 15 minutes of working and 4 hours of rest. Use timers on your phone to keep yourself on top of things and remember to take short breaks in between long periods of work. You can rehydrate, grab some snacks to fuel up, maybe even take a quick nap! If you know you’re not overexhasting yourself.
6. Study effectively
You’ve probably heard the phrase: “Study smarter, not harder.” And it is absolutely true! If you’re gonna spend so many hours studying, you might as well get the absolute most out of it! Plus by studying effectively and keeping your brain properly engaged you’re less likely to get tremendously bored.
Read our article on 11 genius life changing ways to make you study more effectively!
7. Eliminate distractions
If putting your phone on do not disturb mode isn’t enough for you to stop constantly checking it, again and again, turn your phone off completely. If even that isn’t enough to get you focused and away from distractions, leave your phone at the far end of your room or even in another room so that it is out of your reach.
The same goes for any and all other distractions that might stop you from getting things done. Unplug the TV, lock away your books, switch off all your digital devices. Do whatever it is you need to do and get rid of all of your distractions so that nothing can entice you into procrastination.
8. Do the hard stuff first
Pretty self-explanatory. But it’s actually super important. If you’re studying long hours, you should know that not all your hours will be equally productive. So strategize. Do all the hard stuff first when your brain is fresh and energized and ready to go. It’s gonna suck and it’ll be hard but it’s okay you can nurse your wounded ego by doing all the topics you’re already good at towards the end of studying sessions to regain confidence.
10. Create the right environment
When studying for long hours, creating the right environment is essential. Make sure you’re in a well-lit room (preferably with natural lighting). Whatever you do, don’t try to study on your bed. Your brain associates your bed with rest and comfort. So when you’re on your bed trying to study, your brain is half switched off, just because you’re in an environment meant for rest.
Make sure your environment is quiet, has minimal distractions and is comfortable for you to stay at for long periods of time.
11. Change up your surroundings now and then
One way to trick your brain into staying concentrated for longer periods of time is to constantly change things. While you’re doing this with your study material, also do this with your environment. Study for a few hours in one room, then change rooms. Sit in the living room, then move to the dining room. Even go outside or to a library for a bit.
By changing your environment now and then, you’re making sure your brain doesn’t get bored and switch off.
12. Have the right music
Music is a great way to help you get in the zone. Whether you’re working out of studying it is important to find the right music to give you the focus that you need.
When studying, go for instrumental music. Music with lyrics can tend to be distracting as your brain is constantly occupied with picking up all the words of the songs.
Here is a great Spotify playlist for focus music:
13. Surround yourself with things that you like
Now this doesn’t mean things that distract you, but rather decorative items that you have positive associations with. If you like plants, surround yourself with your favourite plants when studying. Make your study space look pleasing. That doesn’t mean you have to spent loads of time on decorating your desk. Just put a couple of your favourite objects around so that you can trick your brain into associating studying with positive things.
14. Use colours that make you concentrate
We all know that colours have fascinating research associated with emotions and mood linked to them. You can incorporate the following colours in your decoration or even use them on your study objects like books and pens. So what colours should you try and incorporate in your study sessions to help you concentrate and study better?
- Blue – encourages better mind flow and overall performance. It has also been seen to lower blood pressure and decrease heart rate, which creates a relaxing atmosphere to study in. Stronger shades of blue supports the brain’s thought processes, while lighter shades help improve concentration.
- Orange – promotes better focus, concentration, and creativity. Orange has also been linked to organization to help you stay on top of all your work. A strong and bright intensity of orange can stimulate you, but can be distracting, so don’t use too much of it.
- Green – offers the cheerful qualities of yellow and the refreshing abilities of blue. It has a calming effect, as it’s associated with the colour of nature. It promotes security and relieves stress, allowing you to relax and think from a better perspective. An alternative could be simply studying outside in nature.
Meditating is a great way to calm your mind and your thoughts that will help you improve your focus and your emotional management long term. It also doesn’t have to be a major commitment at all!
Take out 10-15 minutes of your stay session (you can set a timer) and follow these steps:
- Find a quiet and comfortable place with no distractions. (You can turn off the lights to help minimalize your distractions and help calm you.)
- You can sit or lay down for this – whatever you do make sure you’re comfortable. (If you notice you tend to drift off to sleep when you lay down, try to sit up instead)
- After being completely comfortable, slowly relax all parts of your body. (An easy way to do this is to start with your toes. Conciouslessly relax your toes before moving up to the rest of your foot, then your ankles, then your calves, knees, thighs etc. Keep moving all the way up and consciously relax all the muscles as you go. When you get to your face make sure to relax your eyebrows and your forehead as you tend to hold a lot of tension there without knowing)
- Take long, deep and slow breaths and bring your attention to your breathing. (Notice the way the air feels going through your nostrils, down your windpipe and into your lungs. Notice the rise and the fall of your chest and the way the air feels when you exhale)
- If your thoughts wander during your meditation – release them and redirect your focus to your breathing. (One great way to overcome wandering thoughts is to imagine yourself sitting somewhere where you feel completely relaxed. For example, sitting on a beach right in front of the waves. Everytime you have a lingering thought, imagine that thought being dropped into the water and being pulled into the ocean by the waves to disappear into the horizon.)
The key is to focus on nothing but your breathing. For these 10-15 minutes your sole purpose is to breathe and that is it. Over time it gets easier to redirect your thoughts and stop them from lingering all together and you might even find yourself wanting to extend those 10 minutes.
Studying for long hours can help you get a lot done – but it definitely isn’t a long term solution. It is okay to study for many hours a day now and then. However, long term it can be exhausting and very detrimental with opposite effects. So to avoid wasting your time and tiring yourself out – make sure you’re managing your time effectively. Avoid studying for super long hours daily and rather incorporate a better schedule with smart studying. Good luck!