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Top 3 Study Tips to Rev Up Your Study Skills Success

November 2012, 2nd Edition

Stuck on a problem, experiencing writers block or suffering through constant distraction? You are not alone. Procrastination plagues students and businesspeople alike. The resulting feelings of being overwhelmed only make the problem worse. Here are three quick tips to start off your study/work session on the right foot.

Written by Kim A., Psychology and Study Skills tutor

1. Mind your space.

A cluttered space is distracting and does not feel comfortable. Find a box and clear off everything from your workspace and computer screen except for what you specifically need. Don't worry about organizing it first (this is a distraction technique and promotes procrastination). Just make a clear and comfortable space. Your surroundings are important too. Be sure to find a quiet workspace with minimal distractions.

2. Get a timer and set it for 30-45 minutes. Part of the challenge with procrastination is the urge to take "study breaks". People who exercise talk about the point in the work out where they want to quit, but at that point, they need to push through to benefit and see results. This is the same with studying and learning. At times when our brains are challenged, we look for ways to relieve the pressure. If you have a timer, you can just tell yourself to keep going for a few minutes more. Once the time goes off, give yourself a 15-20 minute break. Do something fun like taking a walk, petting the dog or some other physical activity (not online social media or games). Keep with the program until the day's goals are done. After you are finished, give yourself the freedom to reward yourself with activities that before were distracting (social media, games, television).

3. One subject/one project at a time.

Setting out the daily/hourly goals of the project is really important. For those that suffer from procrastination, the point at which the work is being addressed is usually under pressure and stress. Feelings of being overwhelmed by the volume of what needs to be accomplished, and limited time to accomplish goals, are stressful and can lead to poor work performance. The old adage is the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time, which definitely applies to homework and studying. Break the project into smaller 30-45 minute goals. Do this quickly based on how you feel it might logically happen. Your intuition and left-brain analytical side works much better this way. Only focus on what needs to happen right now. When overwhelming feelings creep in, just go back to your plan for right now. As you get better at this, you will find yourself setting and achieving smaller goals to accomplish projects before they are due - it happens naturally!

Bonus Tip!

I use magazine holders (the cheap cardboard ones you can get at IKEA or Target) for each topic. All the materials such as: books, folders, binders, notes, resources etc. go into each box. As materials come in from a lesson or class, I put them into the appropriate box. When I am ready to do work or study, I grab that box full of resources and work from it. When I am done, everything goes back into the box and onto my shelf and I grab the next subject. This tip makes it so much easier to keep organized and ready for the next study session or work project.

Have fun and realize that developing study skills is about finding what works for you. Learn from mistakes and celebrate the successes!!

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