There’s going to be approximately 2,028 times where you get stuck in your studies. Where you hit a bump, get confused, and don’t know how to move forwards. You might come across a tricky concept that goes straight over your head. You might look at your next essay question and wonder what language it's written in. You might be faced with an exam and have no idea how to prepare for it.

In this blog post I’m going to explain why confusion is actually a GOOD thing, and how to unstick yourself when you get stuck in your studies – whether you’re in class or studying by yourself at home.


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Why getting stuck sucks

As a child, getting stuck wasn’t a big deal, it was actually vital for learning. A baby who’s learning to feed themselves will miss their mouth plenty of times or drop the food off the spoon before they reach their face. But they don’t decide to just give up and not bother eating. 

A baby who falls down ten times doesn’t decide that walking’s not for them. They don’t think they should just stop trying and simply crawl around for the rest of their lives. Instead, they try again, and again, and again, until they’ve mastered it.

They learn from their mistakes.
They try a new strategy.
They unstick themselves.

But, as an adult, getting stuck tends to have a bigger impact on our confidence. When we’re hit by challenges in our studies we can start to doubt our abilities. The negative identity statements creep in like…
“I can’t do this”
“I’m not a good student”
“I’m not good enough to study”

It’s become normal to feel uncomfortable when you get stuck in your studies and to even try and run away from this feeling. But, confusion is actually a good thing, I promise.

Let me explain.

Ignorant, confused, or educated?

To be ignorant of something means to be lacking in knowledge or training. Many people are ignorant of nuclear physics. I’m ignorant of sports like golf or cricket because I have zero idea about the rules.

I’m not confused about golf, cricket or nuclear physics because I’m not learning about them. I’m actively ignorant.

Whereas, I AM confused about netball strategy. I started playing again nine months ago and, while I am getting better, I still don’t know the best ways to dodge my opponent, mark well, or work in harmony with my team to score a goal. This makes some training sessions pretty frustrating.

Therefore, you can only be confused about something you are learning – which is a good thing! To be confused or to get stuck in your studies means you are on the way to understanding and being educated.

Aged 4 or 5 I was ignorant about how to study.
From the ages of 5 to 24 I was confused as hell about how to study (because I was learning)
Since the age of 25 I have been educated about how to study – I unstuck myself!

So, the next time you feel confused or stuck, remind yourself that it’s a really good thing. It means your brain is trying to learn something new but is hitting some challenges. It means that with some strategies for getting yourself unstuck you’ll be able to move forward into the next awesome stage – educated.

How to unstick yourself during independent study

As a distance learner, I spent 95% of my study time at home, alone. When you get stuck in your studies as a distance learner you can’t simply raise your hand or walk to your tutor’s office for help.

However, here’s what you CAN do to get yourself unstuck in your studies:

1. Go back to a point in the materials where you DID understand then try again to breakdown the tricky part
2. Find a new explanation through a Google search
3. Search for a tutorial video on YouTube
4. Take a break and go for a walk before coming back to the problem
5. Discuss the problem with a fellow student. Explain what you DO know and bounce ideas to fill in the gaps
6. Find an example or case study to cement the idea in a real-life situation
7. Email your tutor and ask for help
8. Sleep on it and try again tomorrow.

How to unstick yourself in class

If you get stuck in your studies during a lecture or tutorial, here’s some unstick yourself strategies:

1. Raise your hand and ask a question (if you’re in a class where that’s expected)
2. Or write down your question and ask the tutor/lecturer at the end of the class
3. Note down where you’re getting stuck and read around the concept later, or look for a different explanation
4. Ask a fellow student to repeat the idea or explain it to you
5. Do the prep work! Preparing for your class will make you familiar with the material so reduce the likelihood you’ll get stuck.

Try out these strategies when you next get stuck in your studies so you can ditch confusion and overwhelm and improve your understanding.


How to Actually START Your Essay

Workbook + video training to take you from procrastination and overwhelm to understanding your question and mapping out your ideas with momentum. Easier, faster essay writing (and higher grades) await.

Start Your Essay

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