Study Tips for the Master Procrastinator
(or anyone needing to focus)
As the semester goes along, you may have the panicked realization, “Oh my god, midterms are coming up?!” I feel that. I get you. We’re in this together, I promise.
Those thoughts are common, and though it can kick some people into high gear, others may not know how to study for their midterms—or planned on studying before realizing that was 5 hours have passed since they got caught up in whatever hobby they had (Netflix, I’m looking at you). As a former master procrastinator, I have been in every one of those situations. Therefore, here are some tips and tricks to study if you don’t know how or need the boost.
The first thing you need to do is remind yourself.
I’m not just talking about one reminder either. That won’t help the most masterful procrastinators. I’m talking three to four reminders set different times apart. This may seem annoying, but that’s kind of the point. Keeping yourself reminded that you have these things on these days and to study for this thing now is great because it can keep you managed and on track.
My personal preference is to put two types of reminders. I put one on my phone for 15 minutes and 5 minutes before. That way my alarm goes off and I have two chances to get working. I also use my Hotmail account and put a reminder on that calendar. Any Windows 10 computer has a Hotmail account attached. This account will actually send reminders to your desktop. Anyone on an Apple product can use the default Reminders app, which will send timed notifications to all of your linked Apple devices.
Lock Your Accounts
You’ll want to get yourself away from your distractions. It’s all too easy to fall into the black hole of Netflix, the internet, scrap paper to doodle, phones, and literally everything else. This can be hard to accomplish since it’s very easy to be worried you won’t be able to get back in. No worries! This is self-imposed, and half the time they’re timed apps.
If you don’t need as strong of a nudge, I recommend Forest. This little app is mostly for mobile devices, but it’s straightforward. When you put your phone down and go back to being productive, the app plants tiny virtual trees; when you pick it up again, it stops.
If you have Chrome, there’s an extension called Pause that will give you a small, temporary screen before going to your distraction. This will allow you a second to, well, pause and think about whether you need to be there.
Should you need a stronger distraction, invest in something like Freedom, which can block desktop apps, websites, and sync across platforms to make sure that you’re super focused. It has a free trial, but is a paid app. You can choose monthly at $7.00, yearly, which is $2.42 a month, so roughly $25, or get it forever for a larger fee of $130. Whichever option is best for your level of distraction, getting one and using it is imperative.
Get Snacks Before Studying
This one seems self-explanatory. However, snacks are a good way to get distracted! You get up for snacks and then suddenly it’s been an hour, you’ve made a three-course meal, and there’s something really interesting to clean in the corner there. Retrieving your snacks before sitting down to be productive serves a few purposes:
- You won’t get distracted when you get up to retrieve them, for starters. Your snacks are right there, and if you put them in bowls, you don’t have to deal with the bags.
- Snacks can actually help your studying habits—we previously wrote a blog post about it.
- Lastly, you get an energy boost from the munching. Gum is a good one for this, too, since chewing the same flavored gum while studying is supposed to help recollection on tests!
Pick a Place
Find a place that isn’t a huge distraction for you. For instance, I can’t focus well in my bedroom. There’s too much around me, and I can find a lot of distractions just spinning in my chair. My living room is better, but I have video games out there and the kitchen full of snacks. I focus best at school.
Part of it is the mentality of being in a school environment, but there’s also removal of a lot of distraction, and I can focus better. For some people, your living room might be “your place”. For others, a local library, public park, Starbucks, or even a completely random place like a skating rink would be the way to go. Pay attention to those places and see where you focus best. Go there. You can go by yourself, with classmates, or with friends, but make sure you’re in those spots.
Make sure to take a few breaks while studying—it’s been proven that breaks are effective. However, it’s so easy for a break to turn into a full stop on your focus. With the midterm season upon us for express classes and fast approaching for the regular term, it’s good to start early on finding what method is right for you.
Using these steps isn’t completely foolproof—you know your limits and your expectations for yourself. However, they are a nudge in the right direction for a good session of review.
Heather Haviland is a social media intern with the Marketing & Strategic Communications Department at SPC. She is currently a student at the Seminole Campus.