Tip Tuesday: How To Study Better

I went to a summer program when I was 16 that completely changed the way I studied and approached studying. It all started with an innocent trip to the pool with two of my friends, Lauren and Jenny.

As we started to pack up our things in the dorm, Lauren started to stress a bit about how little time was left until a big test in the summer program. I think (and I may be wrong who first said it) that Lauren then suggested we could just bring our books and study right after we got out of the pool.

My friend Jenny then dropped a super important truth on me: "Study when you study, have fun when you are having fun". Okay, I know this sounds super simple but it is CRAZY how much this helped me throughout my years at a super competitive college.

Basically, you have to give yourself a real study time and a real break. Don't try to do a little of both, or you may end up with neither! Just be honest about how you plan to spend the time, and your stress will be reduced.

In my own life, there were a ton of times this would come up. There was an office for the student group I was involved in where people would study and hang out. I need my own time/space to get real work done, so I wouldn't even try to "study" while I was in the office....it was just relaxing/chill time. Same thing with hanging out with friends in my environmental major...although we may "plan" to work on a project, I knew that 99% of the time we would end up talking about things other than studying the class exam over lunch. And that was OK! I allowed myself that time to take a real break and not stress.

The flip side is also super important-study when you study. In college and in AP classes, so many people would tell me how many hours they were studying. First, most people are just bragging to psych you out. If they're not, they aren't studying 100% of the time. One of my friends even told me his "routine" for studying an entire day: Go get a coffee from one café, get a sandwich from a food truck, study, do online research, go on Facebook when bored.... The way he framed his work was that he had studied from 9 am to 7 pm, even if he was only looking at work for half that time.

I always tried to just be honest with myself about the time I was spending on doing the work. Like every other imperfect person on Earth, I have had days where I've done nothing productive although I was sitting at a desk. I just had to make sure that I didn't count that time as "time spent" towards my goal. If I need a break, I take a full break away from the books and highlighters and flashcards.

I really hope you found this tip helpful. It honestly changed my whole perspective on how I use my time and frame my efforts. What are your best tips? Is this how you think of studying?