Studying is a long process that requires consistency. But students are suffering to make it a daily habit.
By prioritizing study, you will be able to study every day. You have a limited source of energy and it decreases every time you make an activity. When you make studying an important thing that you’ll do no matter what happens, just like eating and sleeping, you will be able to study every day.
Our willpower is a scarce resource
The problem is not having initial enthusiasm, that’s something that you already have, the problem is maintaining that enthusiasm over time. Our hectic lifestyle makes us postpone our desired tasks for later. In this case, we think that we are going to study later, but that never happens. Some days, we experience some sort of frustration, a stressful webisode that depletes us emotionally. These things also deplete our motivation to study. The bottom line is that different external factors like rush, laziness, and stress all of them ending consuming our willpower.
There is a research study that reports the following: scientists called participants to solve some logical reasoning exercises, and an experimental room has those delicious cookies that had just been come out of the oven, and there was a jar of those cookies on the table. Half of the participants were allowed to eat from these delicious cookies on the jar, and the other half were told not to eat them. The result was that the group that had to expend willpower not to eat the cookies had no willpower to participate in the exam for a long time, on average they gave up on their problem-solving only after 8 minutes. But those who are allowed to eat the cookies spent 19 minutes doing all different types of problem-solving before giving up. The perseverance was higher in the group that did not waste willpower on having to hold off eating the cookies in front of them. The activities you are doing throughout the day will determine how much you’ll waste or save willpower. How much do you sleep every day, how much do you eat and what do you eat, how many breaks do you take during study time what types of exhausting activities do you do alongside the study. All these factors will affect how much do you study and the quality of your studying.
Tips to build good study habits
- Planning: According to a study published in the Europian journal of social psychology, Habits are best implemented alongside cues. For example: after breakfast I will study for 2 hours, after I wake up I’ll brush my teeth. The study found that the level of automaticity -how automatic an action feels- rose asymptotically as participants continually perform the action.
- Monitoring: To determine if a habit is changing for the better or the worse, you need an objective measurement that helps us gauge our progress. We need to quantify our habits. For example, if we want to lose weight, we should be tracking the number of calories we eat and the amount of exercise we perform. Once we know the numbers associated with a habit, we can take small steps to improve them in the direction we want. For example, if a student is studying for 3 Promodoro’s “three 30-minutes studying blocks” and he is feeling like he needs to study more, he can add one 30-minutes studying block. By dividing his study time into studying blocks, he has been able to decide accurately what he needs to do to improve his studying performance.
- Convenience: The easier is to do something, the more likely we are to do it. It’s important to make any habit that we want to keep as convenient as possible. To keep going to the gym easier, pack your workout bag before you go to sleep and keep it by the front door. During exams, cook your food in bulk and store the leftovers in the fridge to eat it the next day. This way you don’t need to worry about the cooking every day, and can focus on studying.
- Smart Rewarding: Unrelated rewarding doesn’t help in keeping the habit. For example, if you said: I’ve been eating healthy all week, so I deserve this cheat meal. In this type of reward, you are doing the activity, not for its own sake, but only to earn the reward. The solution to this is to find a reward within the habit itself. For example, you would say: I have an attending class and taking good notes, I’m going to invest in an iPad or a Microsoft surface so I can continue to do that easier. The reward reinforces the habit.
Do you eat every day? do you sleep every day? do you brush your teeth every day? These things are not optional. These are things that you are always doing regardless of the weather, of being busy, being happy, or sad. You have to elevate your study to the same priority level. No matter what happens, you’ll study and that’s it, this is non-negotiable. If you don’t prioritize, there will always be some excuse for not studying there will always be some change of plans there will always be some unexpected events. It’s not by chance that these unexpected events can not stop you from eating or sleeping or brushing your teeth, but can stop you from studying. It’s only because studying is not a priority to you. It may look too difficult, but it’s a skill that you can master with time.
How to stay focused for a long time
- Plan the night before: Before you sleep you have to decide exactly what you want to study the next day. This way you will not waste your time and energy in the morning trying to figure out what you should study. Put the book that you want to study on the table with a pen or empty paper on the page that you want to start from.
- Stay seated: Don’t give yourself a reason to get up and get away from your desk. Before you start your studying time prepare your coffee and your snacks, and organize everything you need during your studying-time block. This way you’ll minimize the amount of time that you need to get up and give yourself a chance for distraction and procrastination.
- Hide your phone: Your phone is your worst enemy when it comes to studying. If you hear any notification, if you hear a buzzing, if you even look at your phone or think of it you’ll be so likely to reach over and grab it and check it. Put your phone out sight. if you don’t see your phone you’re less likely to think of it, you’re less likely to notice it. It is even better if you can make your phone silent and out of reach. This way, you’ll not be able to grab it even if you think of it. This creat a huge barrier that you have to get up and move to reach your phone.
- Sitting standards: If you studied for 4 hours today and by tomorrow your brain told you to stop after 2 hours of studying, then you should tell yourself that you’ve been able to study 4 hours the days before and you’re capable of repeating that today. Good habits are built by tricking your mind to do the work. Don’t give yourself a chance to procrastinate and search for excuses. Sometimes when you are less motivated, you can not keep these standards and it’s OK since we are not robots. But generally, you have to set standards for yourself that help you study for a good amount of time every day.