4 Tips On Developing Stronger Studying Habits
Ok, so you’ve probably heard that it takes 21 days to develop a habit. While it’s true that you need to do something consistently over a certain amount of days in order for it to become a habit there really are no magical numbers.
According to research, it takes no less than 2 months before a certain new behaviour becomes automatic. When it comes to studying, my humble opinion as a medical student myself is that it takes even longer.
Let me share my story with you: in my first year of medical school I was tirelessly studying days and nights and I dare say it took me a WHOLE year to learn to find create systematic approaches to each different subject.
Because, you know, every subject is different. Some require more studying at home while in others the lectures have a much bigger impact. Moreover with some simply reading the textbook is sufficient enough while with others you have to take a whole bunch of notes.
What I learned in the first year was that you ought to have a UNIQUE approach towards every single subject and type of material.
I have assembled a list of tips for you to help you develop a studying habit. How long would it take, I can’t say but if you want to study medicine you need to learn how to do it properly and efficiently.
Tip #1 - Establish A Studying Corner In Your Home
Some people overlook this but it’s concluded that the place where you study should be used ONLY for studying. Make sure you have everything at hand (pens, pencils, highlighters). It’s also worth buying a studying lamp not only for better lighting. You see, when you sit in your studying corner and turn on the lamp when you see your books, pens and everything, your mind starts thinking only of studying and nothing else. This is psychology right here. You need to trick your brain and put it in the right mood.
When I first started I didn’t have a designated place to study. In fact, I studied on the kitchen table, bed, sofa, desk, basically everywhere and this had a big negative impact on my overall productivity. When you study in the bed you get sleepy because your brain is a master at making associations. This is why you need to have proper associations and shouldn’t mix things up.
If you utilise this trick properly, you’ll get into studying mood with the click of your desk lamp that I mentioned earlier.
It’s fine if you don’t have room in your home to create such a space. You might as well go to the library. Why? Because your brain associates it with studying, simple as that.
Tip #2 - Eliminate Distractions
As banal as this may seem, please, put your cell phone away while studying. There is nothing worse than having to answer a text, call or any sort of notification during studying. It is scientifically proven that a single distraction, for example answering a phone call or even answering the doorbell, costs you 15 minutes! What I mean by that is that after distracting yourself you need 15 more minutes to concentrate on your job again.
I know many people that “study” while the TV is turned on or with other people talking around them. These friends and colleagues of mine ALWAYS complain that they can’t remember anything they study, that they have to read it a hundred times and always wonder how I memorise so quickly.
This is probably the most important tip on the list. Make sure you turn off your phone’s sound when you start studying or you might as well leave it in the other room.
Tip # 3 - Study Every Day! Repetition Is Key.
Now, this is obvious, isn't it? But do you actually do it?
Make a studying plan. Decide on how many hours you have to spend a day in order to be prepared for all of the subjects on the next day. Use the weekends to catch up with tougher material or to find some additional information on the topics in the form of videos and articles to genuinely provoke interest in the matter.
Tip # 4 - Study In The Same Hours Each Day
Now this one is very interesting and applies not only for studying. I found it to be effective for working out too. Apparently, when you practice the same activity in the same hours every day your brain gets used to doing it and I found that if I skipped studying or sports I sort of missed it. As if something was missing.
If you successfully implement these 4 tips you would quickly develop a strong habit for studying. If you manage to do this in the first 2 years of medical school it would be MUCH easier for you during the clinical years, where the workload but be bigger and you would actually have less time for studying.
Make sure you start using those tactics right away and in less than 2 weeks you would start seeing the results!
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