Making the most of a limited study window
When you’re a student, every moment of the day seems filled with distractions and obligations—that can make it difficult to complete your course work.
Then when you do find time, it can be hard to focus. Or perhaps you suffer from brain drain, and you feel you have no more energy to give to the task at hand.
Fortunately, there are strategies available to make the most of your limited study time so you can complete your courses, exams, or professional development into your busy life.
Block off time and space
It’s important to train your brain to understand what is required of it under certain conditions. Having a specific time and space that you use only for studying helps your brain recognize it needs to function in a particular way.
Work with your body, not against it, and choose an interval in the day when you are alert. Carve out a place where you can feel comfortable as well as productive. Ask those who might interrupt to respect this, and turn off your phone or silence it.
When possible, choose a private study space that doesn’t have screens or other items that might distract you. If it’s necessary for you to be around others, consider investing in noise-canceling headphones.
Keep your study area organized and clean. Have everything you’ll need ready for use and easily accessible so there are fewer barriers to getting the work done. Lastly, consider a web blocker to limit the amount of time you’re able to visit time-sucks like Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.
Start with a brain dump
Take some moments at the beginning of your study time to clear out your brain. Free write for a few minutes about anything you like, clearing out the pipes of your extraneous thoughts to help keep from becoming distracted later. Save anything you write that is productive or worth keeping and delete the rest.
Multitasking, once lauded as a means of getting more done in less time, has since been shown to actually result in less productivity. Constantly readjusting your mind between tasks cuts away from your ability to focus and makes timely completion more difficult than it need be.
Try giving your undivided attention to one item at a time.
Don’t simply pick a random assignment and start doing it. Prioritize your most important tasks and knock them out of the way at the beginning when you are most focused and you are unlikely to get pulled away or distracted. If you complete your highest priority first, you’ll be in the best possible situation if you can’t complete them all for some reason.
Next, be comfortable with not getting to everything on your list. Life happens to everyone. Kids get sick or the internet goes out—sometimes it just takes longer to finish an item than you anticipate. Allow yourself to be human and work smarter, not harder. If you can’t complete all the tasks on your list today, you can prioritize these items for the next time you sit down to study.
Use these tips to try to defeat the brain drain and increase focus. By making the most of your limited time, you’ll be on your way to smarter, more successful study sessions.
How do you make the most of a small study window? Chime in on our Facebook post above!