I don’t know about you, but sometimes I’m the absolute worst at studying. I end up spending about a third of the time on Twitter and watching those yummy looking recipe videos on Facebook. Aaaaand then I get hungry and spend another 30 minutes getting food. And sometimes when I actually start working, I zone out and have no idea what I just studied. So yeah, if I had to describe studying in one word, that word would probably be “struggle.”
If you’re nodding your head in agreement right now then, first, thank you because I totally appreciate knowing that I’m not alone here. Second, don’t worry, studying doesn’t have to be such a struggle! I’ve been practicing some great solutions to my terrible study session problem and I’ve been super productive and focused.
I divided this post into two small sections to better organize my tips because I just felt that in order to have a productive study session, you must have both essential materials and essential habits. But really, it’s mostly to make this post a little easier to digest!
Sometimes it can be a little loud in the library, as with any other place you might study. Also, if you plan to watch videos from your class’s lecture you definitely don’t want to forget to bring earbuds! You wouldn’t want to distract anyone around you. To ensure that you never forget them when you need them, always leave your earbuds in your pencil case. This will also ensure that they don’t get too tangled up in the dark depths of your backpack.
2. Several writing utensils.
Don’t just bring one pen or one pencil. You might run out of ink; your pen can explode in your backpack; your backpack might grow a random, mysterious hole and your one and only writing utensil could fall through it on your way to the library. It happens. Personally, I don’t think you can ever have too many pretty pens in different colors, but then again I hoard them like crazy. But can you blame me? They make college life so much easier! Bottom line: bring at least a couple of writing utensils with you.
3. Your class materials.
Of course, you don’t want to forget to bring whatever study materials you’ll need: printed lecture slides; readings. If you’ll need a laptop, bring one. However, don’t bring textbooks if you can avoid lugging them with you. If you can access an online version of your textbook it’s way easier (on your back and shoulders) to pull it up on a tablet than to make your backpack 10 pounds heavier.
Have you checked out my ultimate guide to buying textbooks for college? I only spent $15 on my textbooks this semester!
4. Phone and laptop chargers.
If you plan to study for a while you definitely don’t want to forget chargers for your devices! A dead battery can cut a steady session short in the blink of an eye, so come prepared. Bonus points if you can grab a comfy spot in the library near an outlet.
If there’s only one beverage you should bring with you, it’s water. Sugary drinks can make you thirstier, then you’ll interrupt yourself every 10 minutes to go to the water fountain. I know libraries always have those signs that say no food or drink but let’s be real, people bring drinks anyway. Just be responsible and clean up after yourself immediately. A refillable water bottle is a great investment so you can drink as much water as you need.
6. A light snack.
A banana, granola bar and graham crackers make great study session snacks. They’re small and light and can probably get you through another hour and a half of studying before you want an actual meal (depending on how quickly you get full). What other snacks do you enjoy having while you study?
You’ll thank yourself for bringing a pack of tissues with you during flu season! If you’ve got some sniffles, have tissues on hand for when you need to blow your nose in a hurry. It’s so hard to concentrate when you’re thinking about the stream of snot fighting its way out of your nose!
P.S. You should totally check out my post on how to avoid getting sick in college! I haven’t gotten sick yet and I hope to keep it up!
8. Comfortable clothes.
The last thing I want to think about while I’m studying is how I feel like I’m going to explode because my pants are too tight. Dress comfortably so you can better focus on your tasks.
9. Medicine if you’re sick.
No need to make yourself suffer! Bring whatever cold medicine you use if you’re studying outside of your room. If you need to take another dosage you can do so without having to leave your study spot. All of your necessary medications should definitely be on your college packing list because trying to buy them on campus when you need them will cost SO much more money!
Btw, my college packing list includes a free printable if you’re interested!
10. A clear mind.
Leave the day’s frustrations at the library’s entrance when you go there to study. There’s not enough time to get caught up in other things when you’re trying to get work done. It’s definitely easier said than done to push some things to the back of your mind for a while, but please try to do it for yourself. You’ll feel so much more focused and productive if you can zero in on just the tasks at hand for the time being.
11. Create an assignment to-do list.
This helps me organize everything in a much more efficient way. Writing everything down also lets me figure out which tasks require more attention and which ones I should save for last. I also love to list them in the order that I plan to do them in.
12. Hide your phone and don’t even think about looking at it.
Don’t pick up your phone every time you get a text or a new comment on your Instagram post. This is a one-way ticket for de-railing your focus. Of course, you need your phone in case of emergencies so I don’t recommend turning it completely off. Instead, I always place my phone face down so that even if I get a message or notification from Twitter, the lit up screen won’t distract me — hell, I wouldn’t even realize that I got a notification! You can also just pop your phone into your backpack.
13. Keep the chatter with your friends to a minimum.
Studying with friends is a great way to make your study session a little less boring, but try keeping the conversations at a minimum. Constant talking will distract everyone and no one will get any work done. Just be polite if one of your friends is talking a little too much or a little too loudly.
14. Play music if it helps you concentrate better.
Some people just love listening to music while they study. Music can also help you drown out any background noise that you don’t like. I love listening to classical composed music while I study because there are no lyrics to confuse me with the words I’m reading or writing. Take a look at my study session playlist if you want some music inspo for your studying!
15. Close excess tabs on your laptop.
Especially if they’re social media tabs otherwise you’ll be tempted to peek at them, and one tiny peek might turn into an hour-long engrossment. Also sometimes too many open tabs can make your mind feel cluttered and bogged down!
16. Avoid multitasking.
I used to think that I was good at multitasking. In fact, I used to adore multitasking and praised it as my method for getting things done. But here’s why I no longer do it and why I think it can actually be bad: It’s difficult for you to divide your attention equally among two or more tasks. Even so, you might end up carrying out one task slightly better than the other. Or worst case, you might screw up both tasks. There’s only so much our brains can do! Keeping your focus on one thing at a time will help you retain that information better and complete that task more effectively.
17. Give yourself small breaks.
Don’t forget to reward yourself with short breaks here and there. Taking even 5-10 minutes to relax your mind before moving on can really give your study session a boost by not totally swamping yourself with information all in one go.
What are your tips for conquering your study sessions?