Study Habits

  • Take responsibility for yourself. Responsibility is recognition that in order to succeed you can make decisions about your priorities, your time, and your resources.
  • Center yourself around your values and principles. Don't let friends and acquaintances dictate what you consider important.
  • Put first things first. Follow up on the priorities you have set for yourself, and don't let others, or other interests, distract you from your goals.
  • Discover your key productivity periods and places. Morning, afternoon, evening; study spaces where you can be the most focused and productive. Prioritize these for your most difficult study challenges.
  • Consider yourself in a win-win situation. You win by doing your best and contributing your best to a class, whether for yourself, your fellow students, and even for your teachers and instructors. If you are content with your performance, a grade becomes an external check on your performance, which may not coincide with your internally arrived at benefits.
  • First understand others, then attempt to be understood. When you have an issue with an instructor, for example a questionable grade, an assignment deadline extension, put yourself in the instructor's place. Now ask yourself how you can best make your argument given his/her situation.
  • Look for better solutions to problems. For example, if you don't understand the course material, don't just re-read the material. Try something else! Consult with the professor, a tutor, an academic advisor, a classmate, a study group, or your school's study skills center.
  • Look to continually challenge yourself.
Steven Covey, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
Concentrating When Studying

  • Get a dedicated space, chair, table, lighting and environment.
  • Avoid your cell phone or telephone.'
  • Put up a sign to avoid being disturbed or interrupted.
  • If you like music in the background, OK, but don't let it be a distraction. (Research on productivity with music versus without music is inconclusive).
  • Stick to a routine, efficient study schedule. Accommodate your day/nighttime energy levels.
  • Before you begin studying, take a few minutes to summarize a few objectives, gather what you will need, and think of a general strategy of accomplishment.
  • Create an incentive if necessary for successfully completing a task, such as calling a friend, a food treat, a walk, etc. For special projects such as term papers, design projects, long book reviews, set up a special incentive
  • Change topics. Changing the subject you study every one to two hours for variety.
  • Vary your study activities.
  • Alternate reading with more active learning exercises.
  • If you have a lot of reading, try the SQ3R method.
  • Ask yourself how you could increase your activity level while studying? Perhaps a group will be best? Creating study questions?
  • Ask your teacher for alternative strategies for learning. The more active your learning, the better.
  • Take regular, scheduled breaks that fit you. Do something different from what you've been doing (e.g., walk around if you've been sitting), and in a different area
  • Give yourself a reward when you've completed a task.
  • Research has proven that people who use a worry time find themselves worrying 35 percent less of the time within four weeks. Set aside a specific time each day to think about the things that keep entering your mind and interfering with your concentration. When you become aware of a distracting thought,
    remind yourself that you have a special time to think about them. Let the thought go for the moment and keep your appointment to worry or think about those distracting issues during the specific worry time.
  • Maximize your energy level. When is your energy level at its highest? When are your low energy times? Study your most difficult courses at your high energy times. Sharpest early in the evening? Study your most difficult course then. Later in the evening? Work on your easier courses or the ones you enjoy the most. Most students put off the tough studies until later in the evening when they become tired, and it is more difficult to concentrate. Reverse that. Study hard subjects at peak energy times; easier ones later. This alone can help to improve your concentration.
  • Visualize. As an exercise before you begin studying, think of those times when concentration is not a problem for you--no matter what situation. Now try to feel or image yourself in that situation. Recapture that experience immediately before your studies by placing yourself in that moment. Repeat before each study session.
University Counseling Services, Kansas State University