Tips to Build Good Study Habits for your Academic Success
I would like to start this post by introducing the concept of Aggregation of Marginal Gains. This concept has been referenced various times, such as in this article and James Clear’s best-selling book, Atomic Habits.
The concept stems from the idea if you break down a process into multiple small parts and improve each part by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together.
The mathematical analogy to show how powerful this is: If you can get 1% better every day, after 1 year, you would be 37 times better than you are today.
The practical implication is that if you start one good daily habit now, you would have reaped a significant benefit one year from now. Therefore, habits are called compound interest of self-improvement.
However, it is important to note that it works the other way as well. Implementing good habits in your daily life will improve your life, but if you have bad habits instead, it will be a significant setback to your self-improvement.
Building Better Habits
Our habits dictate how we act most times without us realizing it. If we could understand how this works, we can utilize it to build good habits and reap the benefits in the long term.
That is why it is crucial to implement study habits that are effective and suit you. If we can build a good and effective study habit, it would consequently mean that we would require less effort to study while maximizing the results we get.
Today we would be discussing some useful tips to improve your study habits:
1. Remove distractions
Small distractions could really affect your focus and efficiency when studying. This may seem like an obvious thing to most students. However, a lot of students are not doing this well enough.
a. Stay away from your phone
One of the main distractions for most people is our phones. We have various social media accounts and applications that can distract us at any point in time. Just one notification from Whatsapp, social media, or your favourite game would be enough for you to get distracted and start scrolling your phone. What started from one notification could easily turn into another 20-30 minutes of phone scrolling.
Turn off your phone, or a better tip is to just remove your phone out of sight and out of your reach during your study session. Your phone can wait for a couple of hours before it needs your attention.
b. Organize your desk
Keep your space clean and organized. Only keep what you need to use in that study session and remove all the other things. This includes keeping away study materials for other subjects (other than the one you are studying at that moment).
2. Plan your study time ahead
It is important to have a specific and detailed study plan rather than a vague one.
Plan (1): Study in the afternoon and evening after going back from school
Plan (2): Study Mathematics (Topic XXX) from 4pm-6pm. Start by revising the materials learnt in class last week and do some sample exercise questions from chapter xx. After dinner, Revise for Physics (Topic YYY) test next week from 730pm-930pm.
Most students would stick with having Plan (1) and assumes it is sufficient. They’d assume that by the time comes, they would come up with a plan automatically and know what to do.
But having a more specific plan makes it more likely for you to go through with it. If you have a vague plan, most of the time, you do not have a clear picture of the free time you have. You may assume you have more time to finish tasks than you actually do and may end up procrastinating and not finishing what you should be doing that day.
The plan itself need not be very specific to the minutes. Just make sure you plan the time, as well as what you should be doing during each block of time.
Another point to pay attention to is that you should be realistic in making your plan. Set aside enough time you know you’d need to do certain tasks. Do add in some buffer time as you may need to have some short breaks in between.
3. Have a study spot
It is important to get a specific study spot. When you are in a certain environment, it would require less effort for your brain to get into the right mental state to do certain things.
Think of it this way. If you have always been studying at [Place A], your brain will associate [Place A] with studying. And hence, it would be easier to get to the right mental space to study when you are here.
Keep in mind that your study spot also must be distraction-free. A quiet place such as the library definitely is a go-to choice for a lot of students.
4. Make it a daily habit
Strive to have a self-study session every day. On busy days, or when life gets in the way, you could slot in a shorter period to study. Consistency is important.
The key is for you to track your study habits daily and not break the chain. Concurrently, tracking certain behaviour makes them obvious, attractive, and satisfying. Hence tracking your study habits would also serve as motivation for you to continue these habits long term.
5. Understand your learning style
Everyone is different. Think about which learning style works best for you and plan your study sessions accordingly. This includes what study aids are more effective for you, what time of day you could focus best etc. Read this article for an in-depth discussion on how you could identify your learning style as well as more specific study tips according to your learning style.
Learning is a life-long process, and you should always strive to be better day by day, especially in your academic journey. If you continue to pay attention to your study habits and strive to improve just a little bit each day, you will reap great benefits in the long term!
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