How To Truly Study Effectively

We have a joke at Michigan State University about going to the main library to study. The library is always packed with students appearing to be productive and anxiously working on assignments. In reality, most people are sitting on Facebook or Tumblr, and studying is actually getting the least of their attention.

There are five keys to studying that will truly help you make the most of your time hitting the books: you must comfortable, focused, full, alert, and able to access any necessary helpful materials.

First of all, being comfortable when you study is one of the most important ways to stay focused and productive. For me, setting up a comfortable lounge space to study directly correlates with my focus, but everyone is different. Finding the right setting for you and your habits is what matters.

For example, I like to study either in my bed or on the couch where I am most at ease. I can lean back, kick my feet up and still have all of my materials right in front of me.

Sitting at a desk, table or cubical has personally never been effective for me because I cramp up and end up very uncomfortable which deters my focus.

However, some people prefer to sit upright at a desk or table because it actually helps them concentrate. Desks and tables let you spread out your materials more easily, give you more space, and are great for studying with friends or groups.

Secondly, it is obvious that focus is essential to productive study habits. Unfortunately it is not easy to accomplish especially when we are constantly surrounded by technological distractions.

Since most of our generation studies/takes notes on our computers, the temptations of Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and other social media and gaming sites are distracting.

As difficult as it may be, you must fight the temptations to surf the net or browse through Facebook profiles while you study. I can’t remember how many times I took a “Facebook break” during studying and suddenly realized 30 minutes went by without me noticing.

Now this is not to say that you shouldn’t take occasional breaks when you’re working, but they should be short and refreshing. Instead of aimlessly browsing the Internet for an hour, take a break doing something with a time limit. This could a be a game, or a television show or just you making sure you set a goal of when you want to get back to work.

Technology isn’t the only distraction though, especially depending on where you study.

I often study at my apartment or the student union and while my apartment is worse at times, even the union provides its own set of distractions that disrupt my concentration.

While I have a comfortable setting in my apartment, I also have roommates, television, music, food and other ways to divert my attention.

At the union, I get more work done in a quiet study area with couches, but the noise of other people is inevitable. A great way to block the noise and stay focused is to listen to study music in your headphones.

For more information on study music, check out my article on The College Helper.

Additionally, another way to stay productive while studying is to start working on a full stomach.

I know it sounds funny, and maybe insignificant, but trust me, studying when you’re hungry is surprisingly difficult.

Before you dive into your books, make sure you have had a meal, or pack a light snack if you are going to the library or union to study. Most campus studying areas have a small cafeteria in them, which can also be helpful.

Don’t eat too much though, or you’ll feel sick and tired, but I guarantee you will be more focused if you aren’t studying on an empty stomach.

Furthermore, it is hard to stay focused and ready to learn when you’re not alert. This could mean you’re tired, or simply lackadaisical.

Coffee, red bull, raw nuts, or any other food or drink that will keep you awake and alert will become your best friend during college.

Make sure you get good rest and have energy boosters on hand when you know you have a night of studying ahead.

Finally, when you’re studying you want to be in a setting that gives you access to any necessary materials that can help you.

This could mean finding an open space to spread out your books, computer and notes, going to the library where there are an abundance or resources, or maybe even going to a tutor or help room to study incase you have pressing questions about your subject.

Wherever you choose to work, you should have all your resources at your fingertips to be more efficient.

Everyone studies in different places, and with different methods. The most important thing is making sure you design a space and habits that are comfortable for you to be productive.

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Madeline Fetchiet

Madeline Fetchiet

Madeline Fetchiet is a sophomore at Michigan State University, studying journalism and philosophy of law. Aside from reporting, Madeline enjoys tae kwon do, reading, writing, researching and traveling, and can be considered a music enthusiast. Madeline currently works as an intern for, and is a banquet server at Travis Pointe Country Club in Ann Arbor, MI. Perfecting the storytelling side of reporting is something she looks forward to in her future career as a journalist.
Madeline Fetchiet

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