Dirty coffee cups on the sink from late-night study cramming, clothes strewn across the floor, and pets that need walking. Does this picture look familiar? If so, you might benefit from improving your study efficiency and effectiveness through a study ritual.
But what’s a study ritual?
Noun: study /ˈstʌdi/ - The devotion of time and attention to gaining knowledge of an academic subject, especially by means of books.
Adjective: ritual /ˈrɪtʃʊəl/ – (of an action) arising from convention or habit..
1. Plan ahead
The first step to any good study ritual is to make a plan about how you’ll fit study around your other commitments. So start by creating a schedule that includes time for work, dropping the kids off at school, exercise, sleep, cooking, eating and getting the kids to bed. Based on this schedule, you’ll be able to find gaps of time you can dedicate to study.
Elizabeth Sandow, CDU Law student and mother of two would study for 30 minutes on her lunch breaks, for 45 minutes between her kids’ sports drop offs, and for one hour after the kids went to bed.
Check out our article about how much time you’ll need to set aside for study.
Once you’ve identified the times in your day you can set aside for study, plan the types of study you are doing into these time slots. Are you doing pre-reading for an assignment? Maybe you’re writing an essay. Make sure your study times are conducive to the type of study you need to do, have your study plan/schedule sorted in advance.
2. Limit your distractions
This is not always as easy as it seems. Everyone's distractions are different and distractions effect people differently. Here are some things you can do to help reduce distractions when you're studying:
- Get good-quality noise-cancelling headphones.
- Create a study music playlist, and include music that will help you focus.
- Put your phone on flight mode.
- Keep your emails closed.
- Tell your loved ones that you are studying and you're not to be disturbed.
- Ask a friend or family member to look after your kids for an afternoon so you can study in peace and quiet.
- Keep the pets outside.
- If you study better with people, get an awesome study buddy onside.
3. Prepare your study space
Can you work in clutter or do you need a tidy workspace to be productive? If clutter doesn't faze you, you're lucky! You can probably work or study anywhere and not be distracted. For the rest of us, make sure you tidy your space before you sit down to study, not during.
Also try to make your study space as welcoming and comfortable as possible (read our tips on how to prepare an awesome study space here). Is there sufficient lighting and airflow? Do you have a comfortable desk? Set the mood of your study area so that it suits you.
4. Clear your mind
There’s no point in trying to study when you have a million unrelated thoughts zooming through your mind. How are you meant to focus on the task at hand? Here are some things you can do to help get into the study zone:
- Listen to your study music playlist.
- Do a 5 minute meditation.
- Do a short yoga stretch.
- Diffuse some energising and motivating essential oil blends.
- Go for a short walk, especially somewhere with lots of trees.
For extra help destressing, check out our six tips to de-stress and focus on your study.
5. Make sure you take frequent breaks
You need to sit less and move more! Sitting still for too long is not good for you and your concentration. Government recommendations are that you should break up long periods of sitting as often as possible. It's continuous periods of sitting (of more than 30 minutes) that are harmful (source: beupstanding.com.au). Things you can do in a 5-10 minute break to move:
- Refill your drink bottle, get a cup of coffee or tea.
- Open the door, step outside and stretch.
- A few yoga poses.
- A quick jog around the block.
- Hangout the washing/stack the dishwasher/vacuum a room.
- Put in your headset, walk around and call a friend.
6. Make it a habit
Do these things every time you study – and viola – you have a ritual! But of course, the most important thing is to find which of these strategies work for you and then rinse and repeat. By following a plan and pattern of what you know works for you will see you become an effective and efficient study machine in no time.
Other reading: Tips to reduce stress in the hours leading up to an exam