By: Danielle Curry
You’ve heard the spiel. You don’t need me to tell you to drink water, get eight hours of sleep and do your homework, nor will the perpetual reiteration of these things blow your mind.
That being said, some of the clichés have merit. I’ve tweaked some of the classic advice to better suit my needs. These are my personal methods for studying without losing my mind.
1) Keep organized. Get out those syllabi and write down everything that you have to do for the week on the FRIDAY of the week before. Write down every single assignment, even the little ones. You will forget them otherwise. Write down the date they’re due next to the assignment. This is your checklist. Keep it with you whenever you can. Here’s an example of what a single item on my list would look like.
– Chapter Four Questions (M/26)
Doing this on Friday gives you the most time to plan for the week ahead, and to get work done over the weekend. It also means you don’t have to get out all of your syllabi throughout the week.
With a checklist, you can look over what you have do for any given day and prioritize. If something is due tomorrow, you should probably be working on it. If it’s not due until the end of the week, you can probably save it for later.
Crossing off assignments is satisfying, and can help give you the motivation to finish assignments. A fully crossed-off to-do list is a beautiful sight.
2) For any readings you have to do, see if you can find an audiobook version on YouTube. Sometimes, the entirety of your text will be available for free on YouTube or Librivox. Change the video to x2 speed, grab a highlighter, and listen while reading the text. If you’re a slow reader like me, this will expedite the reading and keep you focused.
3) If that’s not available for your text, if you’re like me, you need music. Get a good study playlist. Ideally, you want one that goes in your ears and registers as exactly nothing. I go for movie soundtracks, video game soundtracks, music in other languages, or songs that I know just well enough to not pay attention to. Milky Chance is a good band for this, because most of their songs sound the exact same to me.
4) If you’re struggling in a class that you’re showing genuine effort in, just talk to a professor. For the most part, they don’t want you to fail. If you need an extension, ask for one. Extensions are not shameful, and they’re not a sign of failure. If you aren’t sure on a concept, ask about it. Don’t be afraid to use office hours. Look up supplemental resources online–once again, YouTube is a great resource to learn the content from a different perspective. Crash Course has videos on most general education courses. Recognizing what you need to succeed is a sign you’re in tune with yourself.
Adaptability is the keystone of effective studying. There’s nothing wrong with making your school career easier for you. If a method doesn’t work for you, tweak it, or leave it. Ultimately, you’re the only one who can decide what studying methods work for you.