Studying: It’s one of those necessary evils that we all have to cope with at University. But just because it’s one of those things we don’t want to do, doesn’t mean that we can’t have a but of enjoyment whilst we do it.
Making studying fun through a variety of methods will help you get through arduous tasks a lot easier, remember more of the information you’re trying to brush up on, and hopefully make you actually want to study well, at the very least, not mind it too much!
Use some of the tips below to help you but bear in mind that there’s not a “one size fits all” solution: it may be that a single tip below works, or you may need a combination of techniques to help you. Don’t be afraid to experiment or mix it up a bit.
Hand Write Your Lecture Notes
Yes I know that writing anything by hand in this day and age is virtually unheard of but there is something to be said about going old school with a pen and piece of paper.
You may be able to take more notes, or write faster notes when sitting and typing on your laptop in the lecture theatre, but are you actually taking note of what you’re noting? Most people who use a laptop to type up notes whilst listening to a lecture will type almost word for word what the lecturer is saying rather than putting in any concious thought about the content of what is being said.
Scientific American has an interesting article about how if you hand-write your notes then they’ll actually be more useful to you. As you have to decide what to write down because you’re slower than when you’re typing, the notes you take will be of more quality. Also, because you’re thinking about what you’re writing you’ll be able to put it into words or phrases that make more sense to you and you’re more likely to remember.
But, if you’re adamant that you’re going to take your notes on your laptop then use the Times New Roman font, apparently it’s easier to read text in this font faster.
Re-Write Your Notes
I’ve always found this to be a really beneficial technique. When you hand-write your notes they’re obviously not going to be as neat and tidy as typed notes, or as linear as you may like as you might jump around over the page when typing.
Going back over your notes helps you to reorganise them into a more meaningful order, you can double check any facts that you’re not sure of and highlight important passages.
You could type your notes up at this point, but as the Scientific American pointed out, you’re more likely to do better with handwritten notes.
I will admit however that typing them up and syncing them to the cloud has the advantage of making your notes available wherever you are (if there’s an internet connection) so you can study practically anywhere without having to remember to lug around a folder or notebook.
Translating your notes into visual form is another way of helping your notes stick in your head and Mind Maps are a great way of helping to organise and memorise your notes.
LifeHacker has a good list of Apps available for multiple platforms although it seems to have ignored an Android solution (SimpleMind has a free and paid version available for Android, Windows, Mac and iOS).
Mind mapping is a great tool for students who are more visual than linear learners and is also a great tool when studying in groups as you can all contribute to the mind map rather than writing notes individually.
Use Your Favourite Websites As A Treat, Not An Excuse
It’s all too easy to get sucked into the social-media rabbit hole when you’re trying to study. The “I’ll just check twitter” or “I’ll Facebook John to see if he has some notes on this” will lead to wasted minutes that turn into hours of scrolling through cat memes and videos of people falling over.
Get an extension for your browser that will block certain websites for a certain amount of time, or between two specific times if you’re feeling being particularly harsh on yourself! Set a time limit and then when that’s up you can browse for your allotted amount of time.
But Katy, how do I know when I can browse? Good question dear reader! And the answer is….
Use The Pomodoro Technique
Simply put, the Pomodoro technique is a method of breaking down a large task into smaller, more manageable chunks.
I’ve written a post on The Ultimate Guide To The Pomodoro Technique which gives you all the information you’ll need on how to break up your tasks and software you can use to manage your timings. If you’re more paper-based then you can download my Free Printable Pomodoro Planner which will help you manage and track your progress.
Cut Out The Interruptions
As well as trying to avoid the interruptions of websites, turn off any pop-up notifications on your computer and put your phone on priority or silent mode. There’s nothing worse than getting into full-on studying mode when you’re phone beeps or your email notification pops up and you get distracted.
Choose The Right Music
When studying, try to listen to instrumental music. Vocals can put you off what you’re trying to read so try to avoid that. The ExamTime webite has 10 tips on how to pick the right music for studying.
Use Smells And Tastes As A Memory Aid
If you spray an unfamiliar scent, or chew a different flavour of gum whilst your’re studying and then chew that again during you’re exam then you’ll be more likely to remember what you were studying.
Ensure that you have enough light so that your eyes aren’t being strained. Natural light is obviously best so if you’re able to afford one, get yourself a natural light bulb
Don’t try to study on an empty stomach, you won’t be able to concentrate and all of your efforts will be wasted. If you haven’t got time to cook a full-blown meal then check out 17 Power Snacks For Studying from Buzzfeed.
Finally, I think it goes without saying that you need to make sure you’re getting enough sleep. It make make sense at the time to pull an all-nighter revising but studies have shown that missing a nights sleep regularly can have a massive impact not just on your studies but your general health as well, try to get a good routine going and stick to it.
Over To You
How do you study? Do you have a favourite technique or piece of music you listen to? Let us know in the comments below.