15 Ways To Take A Study Break While Still Being Productive

15 Ways To Make Your Study Break More Productive

Okay, I can’t be the only one whose 10-minutes study break always turns into a 40-minute tv show episode on Netflix. There’s nothing wrong with giving your brain a much-needed break, especially during finals week when people are literally camping out in the library—toothbrush and pajamas and all—but the annoying part is that when you get too side-tracked, you aren’t any closer to clearing off your lengthy to-do list. Besides that, there’s more to college students than just college…we’re also interns, photographers, business owners, tutors, poets, travelers and lots of other things. College ain’t the only thing on our plate.

Personally, I feel so overwhelmed when I watch the hours tick away while my projects and assignments still sit in my planner. It doesn’t feel like I’ve done anything fulfilling, although my brain feels like it’s been working nonstop. It’s like I’ve been sitting in front of my laptop for the last four hours just staring at the friggin’ screen! Sound kinda, sorta familiar?

Instead of scrolling through Instagram or Facebook on your next study break, try doing these five things that will actually help you get shit done, even when your nose isn’t in the textbook.

1. Learn something new from a podcast. 

Podcasts have been becoming super popular. They’re so easy to listen to while you have a spa day in your room or cook dinner at night. Some of them are really inspirational and can help you learn about the real world. The Classy Career Girl is a great podcast for millennials who want career advice and tips for building brand awareness.

2. Update your LinkedIn profile. 

There’s no time like the present to really spiff up your LinkedIn. LinkedIn is so easy to use that fixing things up won’t take you too long. If your profile is already super hireable, look for professionals to connect with.

3. Plan the trip you’ve been dying to take. 

Well, don’t plan out every last detail, but take some time to look into plane tickets, possible hotels and activities. Create a spreadsheet to stay organized so you don’t have to re-research everything again.

4. Update your financial tracker. 

For the last month, I did an experiment where I tracked every dime I spent, and it was super eye-opening. In fact, since I stopped keeping track of my spending, it makes me nervous to not know where my money is going, so I’m going to start tracking it again. Make your own tracker if you don’t have one, or Google a printable one.

5. Look for an internship. 

The internship search is actually really exciting, and kind of relaxing, oddly enough. You’re really just browsing around for possibilities so you can easily put on some music and chill while you do this. When you find a listing, save the link in a spreadsheet so you can come back to it later.

Related: 8 Organizational Tips To Conquer Your Job Search 

6. Read the news. 

It’s especially important to remain informed in today’s society. Download news apps on your phone so you can easily read about what’s happening when you have 10 minutes to spare. Also check out my post on the Best Free Apps For College Students for more useful phone apps.

7. Continue/start reading he book you’ve been dying to pick up. 

If you’re like me, then you probably have so many books that you’ve only read halfway. Use your study break to get a little further and read a chapter or two. I also find that reading books helps me re-focus when I feel like my mind is all over the place.

Read also: 5 Easy Ways To Make More Time For Reading Books In College

8. Do yoga or a mini workout. 

YouTube is a great way to find quick workouts that you can squeeze into your day. And, if you do them regularly, you’ll actually see results. Look for a quick, five or 10-minute workout video and follow along right from the comfort of your dorm room.

9. Learn how to make something. 

Learn how to make tonight’s dinner, or tomorrow’s breakfast. If you’ve always wanted to learn calligraphy, start watching an intro video—the ideas are endless. Just think of something you’d like to learn and get started on it while you take a break from math and English.

10. Call your parents. 

You’re probably going to have to call them at some point during the day or week, so why not do it now. Parents are great for giving you advice on dealing with your full plate, helping you get your life together, and talking shit about all the people who annoyed you that week.

11. Build a new playlist for studying. 

I love listening to music while I study, and most other people do, too. If you really can’t focus on studying for your exam, build a playlist that will help you out.

Related: The Ultimate Study Session Playlist

12. Plan tomorrow’s schedule. 

Take a few minutes to think about what obligations you have tomorrow—any meetings, coffee dates, assignment that still need to be completed, etc. Add them to the calendar on your phone or to your planner so you don’t forget.

13. Email your professors thanking them for a (hopefully) great semester. 

I think it’s important to send your professors a quick message to let them know how much you appreciated their expertise this semester. You never know when you might need to hit them up for a recommendation, after all. Even if the semester wasn’t incredible, just email them to thank them for their time and knowledge.

14. Make plans to see friends one last time before the break. 

The last week is usually hectic for everyone, but if you really want to grab coffee one last time or hang out with a friend before the week is over, take some time to message people for a meetup.

15. Look for new side hustles. 

There are lots of ways to make extra money while you’re in college, but they won’t wait for you to finish your finals. If you’ve always wanted to get paid to take photos or get paid to teach people math, look for the opportunities that will help you do that.

What are your tips for being productive even when you aren’t? 

How To Have A Productive Library Study Session

how to have a productive library study session

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!

Materials… 

1. Headphones/earbuds.

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.

5. Water. 

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?

7. Tissues.

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.

While studying…

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? 

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The Ultimate Study Session Playlist

How many times have you found yourself in this situation: you’re chilling in the library, or your favorite study spot, with textbooks and lecture notes in front of you, preparing for an upcoming exam or just trying not to fall behind in class. All of a sudden, the unthinkable happens: you yawn. And before you know it, you’re yawning some more, and you’re actually starting to feel bored and maybe even a little unfocused.

Okay, I’m done sounding like an infomercial now. Ahem. Listening to music while I study is my favorite way to get me in the mood to do focused work and even maintain my focus. We all have those days when we’d much rather get in an episode or two of Grey’s Anatomy (okay, maybe that’s everyday) but even so, those unread chapters in our textbooks will still be waiting patiently for us. If you’re looking for some music to help keep you in a study-all-day-erry-day state of mind (or just to drown out the loud AF people talking around) take a look at some of my favorite songs to study to.

Rock:

I never really thought of myself as a lover of rock music, but I have found some songs from this genre that I just can’t get out of my head! When I listen to these songs I feel like I’m in my high-speed, super productive mode because of the beat and tempo. Some of these songs are so great to listen to when you’re speed-typing an eight-page paper — when you’re in the zone, you’re in the zone! 

Off-Brand Misery — Loner’s Club

Loner’s Club is a band that was started by two of my classmates, so I basically know celebrities now. Off-Brand Misery is really calming, so it’s a great kick-off for your study session playlist. I seriously listened to this song multiple times in a row because, first off, IT’S REALLY GOOD, and second, I was able to relax and focus on my work while still enjoying the song.

Exes and Oh’s — Elle King

Good Girls — Elle King

Bohemian Rhapsody — Queen

Composed/Wordless:

Sometimes songs that don’t contain any lyrics really suit the type of studying I’m doing. If I’m reading a long-form article or doing a reading for class, I typically listen to this type of music so that there are no lyrics getting jumbled up with the words I’m reading and confusing me. I’ve been a band geek since middle school (yay clarinets!!!) so I became acquainted with pretty much all of these pieces by performing them and I’m still in love! (Note: you’ll soon find that Steven Renieke is my FAVORITE composer!).

The Witch and the Saint — Steven Renieke

I love Steven Renieke’s pieces so much because they paint a picture stemming from mythology, and they’re very dramatic. The Witch and the Saint is about twin sisters whose births signified a bad omen. The townspeople considered one sister to be a witch, while they considered the other to be — you guessed it — a saint. I won’t spoil the song for you, but there is a mixture of moods that take place here and the song is definitely worth a listen!

Fate of the Gods — Steven Renieke

Goddess of Fire — Steven Renieke

The Tempest — Robert W. Smith

Bolero — Ravel 

Electropop:

Electropop is a super fun music genre to listen to. I’m very much in love with Marina & the Diamonds and in all honesty, songs from her are the only type of electropop music I listen to. I only included just two of my favorites from her on this list because then I’d basically be naming songs from one artist all night. I love listening to her songs when I’m re-writing lecture notes or doing a more enjoyable type of work (like blogging!) because I really enjoy her music and I like to be happy when I listen to it!

Lonely Hearts Club — Marina & the Diamonds

Sex, Yeah — Marina & the Diamonds

Indie pop:

Just like with Marina, I didn’t know Indie pop was a thing until I really started listening to songs by Lorde. A lot of her songs feel very the-apocalypse-is-coming or the-apocalypse-just-happened-and-look-at-the-world-now and for some reason I totally dig that. I love listening to her songs on a dark, gloomy day while I sit in Starbucks, soft, oversized sweater around me, iced latte in hand and laptop screen illuminating my face (me trying to descriptive, heehee). Her songs aren’t very boisterous, so they’re great for listening to while doing slightly more focused work. These are my two favorites from her:

Buzzcut Season — Lorde

Tennis Court — Lorde

Soca:

You may or may not know this but my family is Caribbean so I grew up listening to a lot of Soca music. The best way I can describe this type of music is that it’s just REALLY energetic and will make you want to dance! I usually save these songs for the last leg of my study session to really just help me push through and finish strong (and wide awake!).

Kotch — RDX

Whine Up — Kat De Luna

Press It Up — Sean Paul

I Need Your Love — Shaggy

These songs just make me — dare I say — excited to actually sit down and study and get work done. I definitely hope I was able to show you a little bit of what my music tastes are, and introduce you to some songs that make me feel more productive when I’m trying to get work done.

What’s on your study session playlist? 

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