You may be tempted to slam your book closed and move straight to the sofa once you’re done with your study session.
But, spending 5-10 minutes doing some of the 7 steps below could save you time, improve your grades, and make you feel more organised, prepared and proud.
Last week’s blog post detailed 5 ways to start your study session on fire.
Grab the freebie for this post below. Be productive every time you study by using my daily study session planner.
Print a few of these and complete while you study to keep you on track, focused, inspired AND, most importantly, always improving.
1) List your achievements
Studying often feels like crossing the finish line of a marathon and being told you need to run another one…and another one…
So you can easily forget to recognise your hard work and reflect on how far you’ve come.
Grab my daily study planner and print a copy to use in your next study session. When your work is done, spend a minute noting down your achievements and completed tasks. This small act reminds you, no matter how slow your progress feels sometimes, you are moving forward.
I walk slowly, but I never walk backwards – Abraham Lincoln
2) Are you on track?
Look at your upcoming deadlines and check you’re still on track. Make adjustments to your schedule if, for instance, it looks like you won’t finish the reading in time to start your essay.
Move plans or add more study sessions. Or you might have to drop some of the reading. Look at your essay question or topic and work out which sections are the most important. Focus your note taking on those sections then come back to the rest if you have time.
3) What are your next steps?
Work out your to do list for the next day or your next study session. Work backwards from your deadlines to make sure you get everything done. This list may need to change slightly when you start your next study session but it helps to have the next steps clear in your mind.
4) How realistic was your to do list?
It’s easy to get over excited and add too many tasks to your to do list.
For a while I was creating daily lists with 20 tasks. This set me up for failure as I could never accomplish all those tasks. Now I keep a master list but set a maximum of 10 tasks for each day.
At the end of your study session look at what you’ve achieved and see if your to do list was realistic. How long does it seem to take you to take notes on 1 page, create a mindmap summary or plan an essay? Use this knowledge to make your future to do lists more realistic.
5) Tidy your desk
Seeing a messy desk may give you a reason to procrastinate instead of study. So make sure your desk is tidy at the end of each study session.
· Spend a few minutes clearing away rubbish, plates, mugs…etc.
· File your notes so you can easily find them
· Gather the textbooks and notes you’ll need next time.
EXTRA SPECIAL NERDY BONUS POINTS
6) Reflect on your studying
This may seem a bit woo woo but reflection is an important skill for studying and general life. Spend a few minutes answering some of these questions so you can come up with ways to improve your next study session.
Did you struggle with motivation?
We all have days where we don’t want to study. Where lying down and doing nothing is preferable to chaining yourself to that desk again. But successful students don’t wait until they want to study…cos they may be waiting a long time.
The trick is to promise yourself you’ll study for a short amount of time, and then find some tasks you can start or complete. Getting started is the hard part so you might find, once you gain momentum and tick something off your list, you decide to study for a bit longer, then a bit longer.
Check out this post for 15 things you can do when you don’t feel like studying.
Did you waste time thinking about what to do?
Without a to do list it can be difficult to focus and be productive. Download my study planner below and create a to do list before you start studying.
Or did you struggle to work out what to write next in your essay? I always plan my essay before I start and work out the key points I want to discuss. Sometimes I leave out a point or think of others while I’m writing, but planning your essay stops you staring at your blank page.
Did you waste time procrastinating?
We’re all guilty of procrastinating at times but we should try to control it. If you had the option, which would you choose?
· Study for 2 hours and complete 10 tasks
· Study for 2 hours and complete 5 out of 10 tasks
Rather than procrastinating by half relaxing while studying, why not focus on your studying THEN relax fully after?
Check out this post for 15 ways to overcome procrastination.
Were you distracted by noises and devices around you?
How could you reduce these distractions next time? If there were people around you could you study in a quieter place or wear noise cancelling headphones? If you were distracted by your devices check out tip number 5 on my procrastination post to find ways to reduce these distractions.
Were you frustrated with your note taking method?
If your notes are taking too long, they’re unclear or you struggle to pick out the key elements then perhaps you need to tweak your method. Check out these posts on note taking mistakes, methods and the differences between handwritten and typed notes.
7) Plan when you’re going to review your notes to get a head start on revision
If your course has an exam at the end you will need to revise. Good notes are a stepping stone to effective revision so it makes sense to spend time reviewing your notes.
You may write your notes then not take the exam until 6 months later. But, by then you’ll be lucky if you remember much. Instead, schedule in regular quick review sessions. Every month go over the notes you’ve created and test yourself.
The best method for this is the Cornell note taking method which divides notes into 3 sections.
The first section is your main note taking column where you record the main points of the lecture or textbook section. Then you condense these notes into key words and questions. You can then test your knowledge by covering up the notes column and attempting to answer the questions and explain the key points. Lastly you summarise the notes column by writing a few sentences that sum up the main ideas. This section is useful for review and for searching for information later.
For more info on this note taking method, and 3 others, check out this blog post.
You should now have some actionable ideas to end your study sessions on fire.
Set yourself apart from most students by becoming a prepared and motivated independent learner.
To put these lessons into practice grab my FREE daily study planner below. Print some copies and use them every time you study so each session is productive.
If you’ve found this post useful I’d be grateful if you’d share it with a friend.