Written by Russ Gadzhiev, PhD
“Change might not be fast and it isn’t always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped.”
“Habits, scientists say, emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort.”
“Rather, to change a habit, you must keep the old cue, and deliver the old reward, but insert a new routine.” – Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit
Currently, students receive large quantities of information. They receive a lot of information at home and at school. Furthermore, they are constantly distracted by social media, the number of which is only growing. Instagram, TikTok, Facebook – you name it. As they enter their adolescence many young students are beginning to face new challenges. And in this context, it is very important for students to develop effective study habits. Otherwise, they will spread themselves too thin and struggle even more.
But what does it mean “to have good study habits? Does it mean that you must study harder? Or does it mean that you must do what your teacher says to you? Is there any other definition of “good study habits”? In this short article, we are going to discuss what it means to have good study habits and we will provide an overview of the most important ones.
We need to learn how to study smarter, not harder. Indeed, studying harder does not necessarily mean that you will get the best results from your learning journey. Perhaps, studying harder in school may help you finish school.
But what about college and university? There, you will feel that you have less time – but the expectations and study requirements will be even higher. So, acquiring effective study habits will be even more important for you.
Avoid Doing All of Your Studying at Once
You probably can relate to that piece of advice. You probably remember those nights when you were trying to stay awake with the help of coffee to finish an assignment or learn something for a new class. This cannot be called “effective” studying. Most successful students can distribute their workload over several days or throughout the week. That means that they study for short periods of time and never try to do everything at once. So instead of doing everything at once, try to distribute your workload so that there is something for you to do every day.
Make a Study Schedule
Plan your studies beforehand. Indeed, successful students always do their best to plan their studies because they know that this way their learning will be more consistent and productive. They create a plan, or better yet, a schedule, which they are trying to stick to. It is a proven scientific fact that those students who do not have a study schedule usually do not perform as well as those students who do. So, think about the days when you feel most productive or when, perhaps, there is nobody at home to disturb you and make it your study day.
Let others know about your schedule and ask them not to disturb you. That will further reinforce your study habits. Even if you think that you are doing well with your study materials, still it is a good idea to choose a day of the week when you review all that material.
It is also important that your study sessions occur at the same time. This way you will help your brain solidify the habit of studying at the same time.
Fiercely Battle Procrastination
Procrastination is the worst enemy of effective learners. Truth be told, procrastination is something that can be a problem for everyone – not just students but adults as well. Indeed, sometimes it may be so tempting to put off your study session under the pretext of being tired. Although resisting procrastination may be a challenge, try to make sure that you do not give in. There are many effective strategies against procrastination. Of course, if you do find yourself procrastinating, do not blame yourself for a lack of willpower. Don’t feel guilty. Instead, explore our Shiminly articles talking about effective strategies to fight procrastination.
As we have mentioned in the introduction to this article, there are so many things that can prevent you from studying effectively. Perhaps, it is social media or maybe your TV. If you are studying at home, perhaps it is your parents talking loudly. Planning can help you remove distractions or make sure that they are not negatively impacting your studies.
What happens when you are distracted? First, it is difficult for you to concentrate. You are more likely to lose your train of thought. This may make you feel frustrated and can even discourage you from further study efforts. So carefully think about a place, where nothing can disturb you. If you are not sure where you can find such a place in your house, ask your parents – they will be able to help you with that.
If you feel inspired when others are studying around you, you can go to a local library, where you will be able to focus on your studies even more. For a better result, you can ask your friend to join you. Your friend will further motivate you and will certainly prevent you from putting off your studies.
Also, remember that you can even study in small groups with your friends. This is very effective because if you don’t understand a concept, your friends, who might have got a better understanding of it, can explain it to you. Likewise, if they your friends are struggling with a concept, you can help them too. This will allow you to reinforce your own knowledge of the matter. So don’t underestimate the power of group work.
Give Yourself Sufficient Time to Rest
Having rest is an essential part of learning. Some students and even parents may underestimate the importance of rest, but rest is important. It is also crucial to remember that rest does not mean playing video games or lying on your couch. There are many other ways of relaxing.
But first, how much rest should you have? According to the existing research, people should work for about fifty minutes and then they should give themselves a fifteen-minute break. There are many things that you can do during this fifteen-minute break. You can take a short walk and breath some fresh air. Listen to your favourite song. Simply talk to your friend. Do some stretching. Have a healthy snack or even take a shower.
Try to make your rest time as active as possible. Avoid using your cell phone or checking your social media. Scientists have revealed that this can lead to decreased productivity.
It is unfortunate that in many schools all over the world mental health is not taken seriously. Many teachers believe that students just should study harder. The importance of rest is not talked about. This should not be the case. If a student is studying too much and has no time to wind down, then it may lead to high levels of stress. This, in turn, may lead to anxiety and depression. Therefore, educators should constantly emphasize the importance of rest.
Some students may indeed struggle with their studies, but not because of their lack of will, but because of their problems with procrastination. Procrastination may be the result of working or studying too much so it is imperative that educators understand the importance of mental health and raise their student’s awareness about its importance. Students should also remember that if they find it impossible to make themselves do their homework, they should probably talk to their school counsellor or their teacher. In our Shiminly blog, there are many articles where we discuss various aspects of mental health that you can familiarize yourself with.
It goes without saying that establishing new habits can be a difficult thing to do, especially if your previous, not-so-effective habits, have already become entrenched. That is why it is important to start with small steps. Perhaps, the first and the best way to begin will be to create a study plan.
Russ Gadzhiev obtained his PhD in history and politics from University of Melbourne. He also holds a master’s degree in International Relations from Moscow State University of International Relations, a top-ranking diplomatic school. Russ is a strong education professional with a history of working in the higher education sector of Australia and effectively communicates with learners from diverse cultural backgrounds. He is enthusiastic about teaching and mentoring, writing, curriculum development, research, information management and public speaking. He is fluent in Russian, English, Spanish and Portuguese.