Studying is not only a hard endeavor, but it is also time-consuming. And in this life, having extra time is a privilege not everyone can afford.
You might notice yourself struggling to find enough time to learn everything you need to know, and you can use different productivity hacks to stay on top of your responsibilities and goals.
There are way too many life hacks for you to try them all. But don't worry! You'll find 21 of them that are proven to be effective!
1. Live in an organized environment
If you want to succeed in any task, you have to be organized enough to pull it off. There are plenty of methods to stay organized.
The easiest way is to take notes and label them by date. If you are going to use a computer to do so, make sure to use keywords. That way, it'll be much easier to find certain topics and subjects later on.
If you prefer to write it down on your notepad, use different notepads, post-it notes and highlighter colors to categorize everything you might need.
Keeping everything organized is a great way to deal with stress or anxiety. If you are having worrying thoughts about school, take a step back and relax. Look at how everything is organized and evaluate if you have to make any changes regarding your process. When you see how good you are doing, you will feel calm in no time.
2. Keep distractions away from you
If you are looking at your phone every five or ten minutes when you study, you probably are not getting anything done. Music, background TV noise, social media notifications, and many other things are out there to distract you and keep you away from your goals.
Cut off any distractions right before you start studying. That alone will improve your results overnight! Avoid multitasking as well — it's just a fancy way to distract yourself.
Whenever you are doing something, focus on it entirely. When you are done, move on to the next thing.
3. Create a weekly routine
Even though sticking to a routine might seem repetitive and boring, it's the best way to achieve your goals. Planning ahead of time and repeating successful patterns is the key to getting things done.
It's also important to implement a routine to develop enough discipline to work through physical and mental fatigue, or simply when you don't feel like working.
If you start going to the gym after class and reviewing your notes after dinner every day, you'll realize soon enough it doesn't feel like work anymore, it's just your everyday routine.
When you create a good routine, your mind and body get used to the stress from it. You'll adapt and get better at it over time.
Creating the right routine for you is necessary to prevent yourself from relying on motivation and desire to do things — as they'll fade away quickly.
4. Be on the lookout for new learning techniques
Taking notes and reading them after class is a well-known, proven technique to learn. But it is not the only one. There are countless ways to study and most of them can be found online.
A quick Google search will open up a world of possibilities. Try a couple of them to see which one is best for you, and stick to it!
Change things up every once in a while as it keeps things interesting. Make the best out of technology: use phone apps designed to increase productivity or watch videos like TED talks, which are both fun and educational.
5. Record your lectures (make sure to ask for permission first!)
Taking notes is hard, especially during long lectures. Even if you are the best at it, you might miss something important.
Recording your lectures is a great way to get the most out of them. You will also feel more relaxed as you will only need to write down the most important bits and pieces — or anything you might need to research later on.
Recording your lecture will also let you ask important questions of your professor, something you probably couldn't do before when your focus was on taking notes.
6. Find a way to use what you have learned
If you want to remember what you have learned during class, you need to find a way to use it. It doesn't matter how are you going to use this info, as long as you do something with it. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Find someone interested in what you are learning and teach them a little bit about it.
- If you are studying engineering, search for a cool experiment you can complete.
- Make an educational video and upload it online.
Whatever you do, make sure you are making the most out of your classes!
7. Look for interesting documentaries to watch
Documentaries are always a fun, effortless way to gain knowledge about something. And they always make the most out of a short time frame, so you know you'll get all of the important concepts.
If you decide to make use of documentaries, remember that you have to watch a couple of them to avoid getting a biased opinion on a subject.
Be sure not to use them as your only source of study, as they tend to miss specific details most of the time due to their short duration.
8. Start using your own words to explain what you are learning
If you are repeating your professor's lectures or textbooks when you need to explain the subject matter, you are not learning — you are repeating someone else's words.
If you truly want to learn about something, you need to understand what you are listening to or reading. To make sure you understand it, explain the topics using your own words, not someone else's.
9. Prioritize things
Not everything you need to learn is equally important. Make sure you understand how to differentiate a key concept from non-vital information. Once you do so, focus on the most important things before you move on to anything else.
If you don't have enough time to take care of everything, at least know the fundamentals — not what you'd like to know.
10. Know yourself to know more
You probably know a lot about something, especially if you are taking a college course on it. But the truth is, everyone knows less about a subject matter than they think they do.
Take a hard look at yourself and be honest about what you know, what you don't know and what you need to improve. Focus on the last two things to truly better yourself — avoid wasting time on the things you already know.
11. Take a break to increase productivity
Even though it might seem counterintuitive, taking regular breaks is necessary to stay productive. Don't go overboard with it, 5- or 10-minute breaks are long enough. It is necessary to take them every 40- to 50-minutes worth of studying.
Studies show that your productivity suffers after an hour of work. So, you might as well take a break, catch your breath and get ready to go back to work every once in a while.
12. Choose a day to go hard
Pick a day, any day from the week, and use it to work more than you usually do. Even if you are done with all of your assignments and there's nothing else to study, go the extra mile and start preparing for future assignments. Study things ahead of schedule, get questions ready for your next lecture, and take a look at the questions for your finals.
Who knows, maybe you won't have enough time a week from now, so it's best to use it now.
13. Get ahead of yourself and get ready in the process
A couple of days (or hours) before going to a lecture, read through your textbook and skim through the parts you'll be reviewing that day. Make sure you've reviewed the material you are going to learn. Don't walk into the classroom empty-handed.
By preparing ahead, you'll at least know what to expect, and you will be ready for what's to come.
14. Sit down and study before you lay down and sleep
Scientific reports show that you will retain more information if you study before you go to sleep — as long as you have a good night's sleep.
Try to study early in the afternoon or after dinner. Later, get a good 8 hours’ worth of sleep. Avoid trying to pull an all-nighter unless you absolutely have to.
Sleep is a vital part of student life that is often overlooked. If you study right before you go to sleep and get plenty of rest, your brain will make sure you remember everything that you studied the day before.
15. Know where to start
No two people are alike. Someone might like to start their day getting the easy tasks out of the way and someone else might work better when they start with the hard stuff.
If you need to take the trash out before you start your day, go right ahead. If you feel like you need to finish your final paper before doing anything else, that's where you need to start.
Your routine does not really matter as long as it works. You need to know which one is best for you and start right away.
16. Don't forget about the tech
We are so dependent on our smartphones that we need to simply admit it and get it over with. We have our calendars, contact list, homework, books and many more things in it.
If you find yourself with a dead phone, you might as well go back home unless you came prepared. Keep a cord and a charger in your backpack at all times.
Do not bring the one you use at home with you. Instead, have another set to take out of the house. Make sure you don't lose time looking for a charger and always keep one with you.
17. Back up your valuables
Notes, textbooks, essays, whatever it is: if it's important, make sure you have a backup. Keep a set on your computer, another one on a pen drive and store the third one online.
It might seem like it's a little bit too much until your computer crashes three days before a final exam. It's also a great way to study too. If you take handwritten notes, you will be reading them once again when you type them up on your computer.
18. Invest in a printer
A printer can ruin your day, your week and your whole month if you let it. If you are preparing a final project or an important essay, you'll know how much a good printer costs. You can avoid a full-blown crisis that will make you run around town looking for a working printer if you decide to pay a little bit extra for your printer. Don't pay the price of lost time when a cheap printer malfunctions on an important day.
19. Use Wikipedia for sources, not information
Even though Wikipedia is trustworthy and regularly revised, it's best to stay away from it while studying or gathering information for a project. The good thing about Wikipedia is that it's filled with credible sources you can use instead with no problems!
20. One deadline for you, another one for everybody else
When you are working on something important, set two deadlines: one for you and one for school (or work). Set your deadline three or five days before the real one. That way, if you suffer from any setbacks, you have more than enough time to handle it.
21. Develop a good relationship with everyone
Have an amicable relationship with your teachers and classmates. It might not seem important for productivity but having a sense of diplomacy can go a long way.
It helps to study and work in a friendly environment. Your professor or classmates might help you in times of need. Who knows, you could get a couple of extra days when you need it if they like you.