by Dan Scalco
For many students, studying is the bane of their existence. It’s tedious, stressful, and almost never “fun”. However, it’s a critical part of learning and internalizing information you’re being tested on (whether you like it or not). Because of this, many students stoop to illegally obtaining and using drugs such as Adderall to give them a “mental edge” while studying. While drugs like these might help in the short-term, they have some pretty nasty long-term side effects for those who they aren’t legally prescribed to.
If you’re a student looking to take your study session to the next level without relying on illegal study drugs, I’m here to help. Below are seven tips you can start utilizing today…
Exercise after studying.
You may already be familiar with the fact that exercise improves different aspects of the brain (e.g. memory). This is because exercise is able to increase the production of certain biochemicals in the brain related to mental function. However, a recent study found that those who exercised after a study session were much more likely to retain information over long periods of time. The key takeaway here is to save your workout for when you’re done studying in order to help create stronger mental connections with the material.
Teach what you’ve learned.
One of the best ways to retain information is, ironically, to teach it to someone else. In fact, studies show that learners are able to retain up to 90% of the material they’re studying when they teach someone else. Why does this method work so well for learning information? When you’re forced to teach what you learn, your brain is forced to make connections and callbacks “on the fly”, which create strong mental associations with the content. Not only that, you’re also going to run into information that trips you up and you’ll have to make corrections or re-associations immediately. Again, this helps the brain work things out on its own and build a stronger relationship with the content.
Pro-tip: If you can’t find someone to teach the information to, your next best bet is to create flash cards and “teach” yourself.
Reward positive behavior.
When you sit down to study, do you find yourself getting easily bored or distracted? Don’t worry, it’s not just you that it happens to. Studying can be monotonous. To help keep it fun and interesting, create a reward system. For example, if you get through 30 minutes of studying, take a break and watch some funny YouTube videos. Get through a pack of flashcards? Go grab your favorite snack. The key here is to motivate yourself in small doses so that your brain doesn’t get turned off by the vast amount of stress you’re putting it through while studying.
Most people who study find that they have a hard time focusing for extended periods of time. One of the best ways to regain focus and calm your mind so that it can concentrate is to learn how to meditate. Countless studies have shown the positive effects of meditating on the mind. There are a variety of apps such as Calm or Headspace that make meditating easy almost anywhere you are (from your living room to the library).
Supplement any deficiencies.
First, let me start by saying there is no “Limitless” pill out there that is going to turn you into a genius. However, there are supplements (nootropics) that can be taken in order to take your mind to the next level in terms of retaining information, short-term memory, etc. I highly recommend poking around the NootropicsCity.com shop to see what they offer. My personal favorite nootropic for studying is a stack that relies heavily on Noopept and Bacopa Monnieri.
- Remove distractions and time-wasters.
Distractions such as email notifications and text messages buzzing your phone are focus killers. In order to properly study, distractions need to be stopped. The best way I’ve found to stop these time-wasters is to install the following apps: StayFocusd and Freedom. StayFocusd will block websites on your computer that you might visit to procrastinate and Freedom works the same way but on your smartphone.
Last but not least, you need to get a good night’s sleep after you study. I’m sure you’ve heard it before but it’s important to follow through with. This is because sleep is the only time that your brain can “recharge” itself by removing waste buildup and creating long-term mental connections, which turn into memories.
Studying might not be your favorite thing to do but it’s an essential part of learning. Using the tips above, you can not only make studying a bit more manageable but also more successful.
Do you have your own study tips? Leave a comment below and let me know!