Switch Up Your Studying with New Techniques
BY CATHERINE FOSTER
Remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic has made studying difficult. We are constantly surrounded by distractions in our home, from phones to pets and family members, and we lack the structure and support that we normally have during in-person school. However, there are many different study methods that can motivate you and increase your productivity during this time. Here are five techniques to try:
If you want to work on time management and staying focused and efficient on a task, the Pomodoro Technique will be a helpful strategy. Invented by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s, this method centers around intervals and breaks. It consists of a few simple steps:
Choose a task (only one because you should only focus your attention on one task at a time).
Set a timer for 25 minutes.
Work only on that task until the timer rings.
Take a 5 minute break!
Repeat steps 1-4. After 4 rounds, take a longer break (20-30 minutes) before the next round.
The app Forest is a cute app for timing yourself and keeping track of your study sessions using the Pomodoro technique:
The Feynman Technique
Oftentimes, people teach using complex language and a variety of terms you may not be familiar with. When studying, it’s important to ask yourself if you truly understand the content or if you are just repeating the complex language you were taught. The steps to the Feynman Technique below are the perfect way to test that question and assure that you truly understand the topic.
Select the topic.
Write down an explanation of the topic in simple words as if you were teaching a child.
After you’ve finished writing, read your explanation. Pay attention to how clear, concise, and simple it is.
Find the gaps in your knowledge. If there are parts where your explanation is unclear or you had to use complex language to explain it, then you should review those parts.
Changing your studying location
Your study location can have a big impact on your productivity and studying success. Here are some location ideas:
Avoid working on your bed (it can be both physically and mentally bad).
Although switching up your study location can be helpful, it’s also good to have a specific area (like a desk) reserved for studying so your brain can go into “study mode.”
Know what type of environment is best for you. Do you need complete silence like in a library, or do you need a place with background noise?
When the weather is good, read outside!
You could try studying in a much more unusual spot, like in your bathroom (I’ve done this before when I needed to finish writing a paper!). There’s fewer distractions than in typical study spaces and it might shock your brain into focusing.
This is similar to the Feynman Technique because it centers around explaining a topic in simple terms so that anyone could understand it. But unlike the written Feynman Technique, you will be speaking out loud. Talking through the topic by teaching is a great way to process the material, make connections, and ingrain the information in your memory.
Find a parent, a sibling, a neighbor, a friend, or anyone who will listen, and explain the topic to them. And if there’s no one to teach, you could film yourself teaching to pretend that you have an audience. If you can teach the topic with ease, that shows you have a deep understanding. If it’s tricky, it will help you find specific areas of the topic that are a challenge for you and you’ll know what to study.
Plan and organize - and have fun with it!
Organization is essential for successful studying and productivity. It will help you avoid unnecessary stress and save time, and if you embrace organization, you can get creative and have fun with it.
A great way to plan and organize is to use a bullet journal. You can design it however you want and tailor it to your needs. Fill the journal with calendars and schedules, to-do lists, goals, drawings, etc. This page has ideas (with pictures) for pages to inspire your bullet journaling journey.
If you’d rather do your planning online, try Notion, an online workspace that you can organize and customize however you like. Below are some examples of Notion work-spaces:
Good luck with your studying!