During study time (those 2 or 3 hours a day), you have to take regular breaks to clear your mind and get strength for the next “round”.
Each hour, you can take a brief 5-minute break.
There are students who don’t make these brief stops, thinking they’re using most of their time wisely, but they don’t get what they expect. Without noticing, they start getting tired, and their performance decreases.
We need to use these brief breaks to go out of the room and stretch our legs.
We can do something relaxing (walking around the house, peeking through the window, chatting with a sibling or classmate, watering the plants, etc.), or something that demands low mental effort.
We need to avoid doing something we especially like (for example, watching part of a game that’s on TV), because then it would be difficult to go back to work.
The student has to be really strict about his breaks, not even going one minute over what was established.
If during the work session, you feel like you’re too tired, or you are not very efficient, it’s best to stop, even if you haven’t completed your study hours. If you feel fresher later, you can continue your work. But if you don’t, you can make up for the lost hours another day. You shouldn’t strain your mind.
– There’s an initial phase we can call “warming up”. Going back to the example of the athlete, you know that you always need to do some warming up before any sort of physical exercise. In a student’s case, you have to do mental exercises, and your mind needs time to prepare. This is the right time to do all of the tasks with medium difficulty.
– Then, there’s the maximum performance phase. The mind is ready, and we haven’t worked enough to be tired. This is the best time to get at those more difficult and/or less attractive tasks.
– In the final phase, both work rhythm and concentration decrease. We start to feel tired, and so it’s time to do the easiest tasks that require less effort and concentration.
During your daily study time, you have to keep the following things in mind:
- Prior planning: in the first place, you need to have enough time to do some prior planning. Before each work session, you have to plan what you’ll do during it, and this means you can’t forget to account for that time.
- Necessary supplies: When you know what you’re going to do, the next step is to prepare the necessary supplies. You need to have on your table some pens, rulers, paper and other supplies, books, calendars, dictionaries, etc., or you should at least have them as close as possible, because this will really help you out, since you won’t have an excuse to go looking for something and get distracted on the way there. This will help you earn some time, and you won’t lose concentration.
- Activities to do: writing notes, summaries, graphs, reviews, research, etc.
Then, you do your specific activities, according to the planned order and your own study rhythm. During your planning, you should include all the tasks (reviews, diagrams, research, summaries…), and you need to make sure you have enough time to do each one of them.
- Breaks: You also need to keep breaks in mind, if you’re one of those students who needs them and finds them useful. You need to determine how much time you’ll need, and when you’ll take them.
- Unexpected events: It’s not easy to strictly follow your plan. Some task might take you more time than you originally planned, you might need to do more research, you might get a visit, etc. So, it’s convenient to plan for this and leave some time that helps you deal with all your setbacks.