How to Study Efficiently

Do not Mistake Long Study Hours to Be Efficient Study Hours.

Here is our advice on how to tackle the daunting task of studying on a regular basis.

Designate Locations Where You Will Only Go to Study, and Nothing Else

If you’re anything like us, you’ll agree that it can be extremely difficult to study and do homework in a room in which you may be used to either relaxing or having fun. For example, studying at the desk in your bedroom is awfully difficult when your bed is inviting you for just a quick break, which may very well lead to a nap. Be honest with yourself, recognize this issue, and designate locations where you will exclusively be productive. Never go to these new locations to simply hang out or relax. Consciously make the decision to mentally associate these locations with the highest tiers of productivity and results.

These locations are up to you. I (Jake) really love writing at coffee shops, where I can seek inspiration, and doing math type work in libraries, where I’m able to conquer an entire desk to myself. Marcus, one of our other co-founders, loves libraries and finds the interactions in coffee shops to be inherently distracting. Like I said, the locations are up to you, but follow the rules. Eventually, you’ll condition yourself into wanting to be productive the second you walk into these areas. To this day, the smell of coffee reminds me of writing my admissions essays. On that note, watch this hilarious video below, and read the caption for its relevance.

In this clip, think of yourself as Dwight, but instead of wanting a mint, it’s your desire to be productive. Instead of the sound on Jim’s computer, imagine it being the second you walk into your designated study area. I know it sounds cheesy, but after a few visits to your local spot, this really does happen.

Identify if You Study More Efficiently in a Group or Alone

As you begin to make friends in your courses, your classmates will often get together to study and/or complete assignments. For some people, this is very beneficial, as working in a group may enhance their learning efficiency. For others, study groups can be extremely distracting. Regardless of who you are, identify your strengths and weaknesses in this category, and study accordingly. Do not feel pressured to join a study group if you know that you will be more successful studying on your own.

Pomodoro Technique

This method has a cool history and an even greater utility; it’s named after the Italian word for tomato. Essentially, it aims to maximize the amount of time your brain can focus on a mentally strenuous task like studying. The method suggests you study for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break; this is one “Pomodoro.” You can repeat this process as many times as you need, but on every fourth “Pomodoro” take an extended break (20-30 minutes).

The secret here isn’t to follow the technique exactly, but to find out what time combinations work best for your brain; this could be 35 minutes of work and an 8-minute break or 20 minutes of work and a 4-minute break. The options are endless. Give this method a try if you don’t have something that works very well for you already. Your productivity will thank you.

Sometimes, it’s Best Just to Sleep

We could quote countless studies here, but you know as well as we do that when you’re on the verge of involuntarily falling asleep, you’re not absorbing knowledge efficiently. Sure, you may be reading words, but the message those words carry will not likely last. Think back to your time in the military: when you were awake for duty or fire watch, were you really as responsive at 3 or 4am? Only you know for yourself when your study hours have breached the point of efficiency, and when the opportunity cost of your sleep deprivation outweighs your information retention. Be honest with yourself, and don’t be afraid to catch some Zs.