Before starting this list, it is pertinent to have a study safe place to work. There needs to be adequate light, comfortable seating, minimal distractions, etc. For me, silence is one of the main factors. If there is ANY noise, I can't focus. Because of this, I often use ear plugs, or put in headphones without music playing.
1. Free yourself from distractions.
Everybody has different things that distract them, but there are some basic ones that affect pretty much everyone. I notice that most people I work with get extremely distracted by their cell phones. So:
- Turn off your cell phone
- Go into a study safe area (best place is usually the library) - make sure the room is clean, doesn't have distractions in it, and put a note on the door saying "Do Not Disturb - Studying"
- Create an 'Ignore' list
A great app to help you eliminate distractions is 'SelfControl'. It is a free Mac application that lets you block your own access to distracting website (such as FaceBook), your mail server, or anything else on the internet. You set a period of time to block the specified sites for, add sites to your blacklist, and click "Start." Until the timer goes off, you won't be able to access those websites, even if you re-start your computer.
2. Try out "Timeboxing"
Timeboxing is a method that allocates certain amounts of time for you to do a certain task. Make a list of tasks that need to be completed. Allocate periods of time for each task, it is important to make sure these times are reasonable and realistic. For example, if you need to start writing an essay, maybe the first task on your list would be to brainstorm for 30 mins. Start the timer and commence with the task.
It is ideal to reward yourself with a reward after completing a task. This could be anything from a quick snack break to checking your emails. After your quick reward, move onto the next task.
Concentrate for Mac is a great timeboxing app.
3. Use to-do lists
This one is probably my favourite. I wouldn't be able to get things done without lists. You can either create digital lists or write them our yourself, whatever works for you. Personally, I like writing them out and then crossing them off when I complete them. This gives me a sense of accomplishment.
- White board
- Post it notes
- Digital to-do lists
A popular digital to-do list generator is Wunderlist. Wunderlist is an app that can be downloaded on your Mac, iPad, iPhone, etc. One thing that is great about this app is that you can use it on your Mac and your iPad, and any changes you make to one list will be refreshed when you open the app.
4. Use the S.M.A.R.T. method
When creating your lists, use the S.M.A.R.T. method to make sure you are creating clear and defined lists.
5. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
If you are feeling overwhelmed with the amount of things you have to do, don't worry. Accomplish each task one at a time. If possible, try to eliminate some of the tasks on your list, for example, if one of your tasks is to edit your essay, you could ask a trusted friend in the same class to edit it for you. You will have to edit it after even if someone else looks at it for you, but they may catch a lot of mistakes and save you time.
Good luck studying!