By Stephen Artner
I don’t know about you, but I dread getting home every day because of the amount of homework that I know is waiting for me. You know the drill, especially if you’re in a bunch of honors or AP classes. You get out of school, go to after school activities or practice for a few hours, get home, eat dinner, procrastinate, and finally start your four or more hours of homework really late. I do know a few people who regularly finish their work before nine every night and I don’t understand how they do it, but I have been finding some useful ways to become more efficient while studying. Try a few of these tips on your own. You may find them useful!
Organization is one of the best ways of becoming more productive. Keep track of your homework assignments, tests, project due dates, and important events in your student planner or on Sticky Notes on your computer. Making a habit of writing down your assignments makes it less likely for you to forget to do them. Try to consolidate your “to do” list in one location – relying on the multiplicity of teacher websites to remind you what you need to do will almost guarantee that you’ll forget something.
Get In a Routine
Find out what works best for you. See if doing your hardest subject or your easiest subject first is more efficient for you, and then stick to doing your homework in that order every day. Especially if you have a lot of the same types of assignments every day (i.e. math problems, outlining a textbook), you can really start to get into a rhythm which you can tweak every day so you get faster.
Find Your Learning Style
When you’re studying, try to find the way that you can retain information the best. Whether it’s reading out of a textbook, writing down physical notes, typing notes, or watching online review videos, find what works best so that you can maximize your learning.
Manage Your Time
Admittedly, I’m horrible at this. Sometimes I can spend hours and hours on perfecting my work for one subject while neglecting all of my other classes. It is important to keep an eye on time so that you can get to bed at a decent hour.
Get Rid of Distractions
A majority of our homework is on computers these days, so we have instant access to a world of distractions by way of the Internet. Fight the urge to mindlessly browse social media or watch Youtube or Netflix videos until you have finished your homework and can finally relax. Find out ways you can concentrate and get in the “zone.” If you listen to music while studying, I would recommend instrumental music as opposed to music with lyrics.
Take Breaks Once in a While
Just enough to clear your head and get some new energy, don’t take a break for too long or you’ll lose your forward momentum. If you’re in the zone, I wouldn’t recommend forcing yourself to stop. Clearing your head in this case wouldn’t be beneficial.
Yes, yes, you probably think you don’t have time for this with all your other homework. But you can’t disagree that previewing concepts that will be covered in class will make it easier to get a feel for what is going on so that you will not get that feeling of being completely lost during your teacher’s lecture. Just consider it: in class, you would be hearing the information for the second time, which means that instead of glossing over the lecture in class, you will become more attentive and the material will be reinforced.
Understand the Material
Getting a solid understanding of all of the concepts needed in a topic is so much better than trying to memorize surface-level facts and figures. When studying for a topic like history or biology, try researching topics more than you have to so that you will be confident in at least the basic information needed for the test. This will also help you to draw connections between different topics. Learning is more fun this way!
Use Multiple Study Sources
When you study, get all of your study materials in front of you. When outlining information from a textbook, try also reading a supplementary text or online articles. You can contrast the points of view of the sources and the styles in which the information is presented. Reading about a topic from multiple sources help you get a better understanding of it.
Make a Study Guide
Making study guides does wonders for me when preparing for tests. In fact, the act of creating study guides helps me prepare even more than reading over them afterward. Take your notes and resources from multiple locations and consolidate them into a single document. This will help reinforce concepts in your head. Additionally, if you send your study guide to your friends, they will love you forever.
Study A Little Every Day
You’ll be so much happier with yourself on test day when you have a week’s worth of leisurely studying in your head rather than one night’s worth of cramming. Set aside some time every night to study for upcoming tests so that you will be more prepared and confident in your knowledge.
Set a Bedtime
Be sure to set a time every night where you drop what you’re doing and go to bed. Your body needs to get in a regular sleep pattern, and if your bedtime varies wildly every night your body will not be happy with you. Sleep deprivation is never a good thing, so be sure you’re getting as much sleep as you can every night. You’ll thank yourself in the morning!