Studying in Lockdown

Effective study tips

To those of you that have tried to study for exams but just can’t do it,

Seriously though, nothing seems to be working. Not last minute zoom classes, not even google classroom C.As make me want to open slides.

I’ve lost all motivation to do anything school related and I’m sure you feel that way too. 

Well it is what it is and we have no choice but to push through all the distractions of too much free time or not enough time especially for education. 

Like Jay (from modern family) said, “the difference between try and triumph is a little ‘umph’” and that’s what we need to pull through this very eccentric semester. 

But that’s all talk. I’ve thought about how I can honestly make effort towards getting some school work done so I figured out a few things and how we can translate this to action is what this post is about. 

  1. Balance
  2. Mad mental focus
  3. Reward system because you can’t kill yourself. 

Let me explain how it works (and oh, I’ve tried it and it does).

Balance

Distractions are like weeds. A corn plant growing in a mango farm is a weed. That doesn’t mean corn isn’t good. It’s just not wanted at that time and/or place. The things that take our attention aren’t always bad or useless, it’s just not the right time. 

Cue in priorities and time management. These two work like a charm. Here’s an illustration I learned from my dad 

Important Urgent
Not important Not urgent 

If there’s one thing I took from Ss1 Econs class, it’s knowing what a scale of preference is. It’s basically a list of things arranged in order of priority or value placed on each item. The issue here is ‘how do I place things in the right order?

This is when we use the illustration above. 

Things that are both urgent and important take the top tier position and everything else flows accordingly.  

Rule of three: Motivation brings out the  ‘gra gra’ in me. I want to finish everything in one day because I have small energy. You can guess what happens to me;I burn out and become useless to myself. 

The key is to keep it simple. Don’t be like me. When you make a scale of preference, pick out only three to work on per day. 

Even picking out those three might prove difficult so let’s use the trusty acronym 

SMART

Specific – instead of saying “I’ll read by 10 a.m” make it “I’ll read 20 slides from this (specify course) PowerPoint and jot what learned.” It makes a whole difference. 

Measurable-Think quantity, if it is measurable, it is achievable (perspire to aspire and all that 😂) 

Attainable- don’t set out to do work you know you won’t be able to achieve at a particular time especially due to external factors like when NEPA is being especially funny,or no internet connection etc. 

Relevant- does it make sense and align with what you want to achieve? In this case, pertaining to your education. 

Your tasks/goals shouldn’t be random. 

Time bound- time is of the essence. Doing things in small time frames makes them easier to accomplish. 

Mad mental focus

Emphasis on the ‘mad’ because some of us possess the attention span of a puppy. Every time I open a note in my phone, that’s when somebody has hot gist for me and I’m sure you can relate. Most notes and textbooks are on our devices. Same place where we access WhatsApp, Instagram, Tiktok, Netflix (see where this is going?). 

The struggle is in not replying that message “sharply” or watching “just one more episode”. 

So I lied when I implied that this will work for you. Truth is there really isn’t a foolproof formula that will allow your mind be completely engaged in a particular thing at once but there are some things you can do. 

a. Turn off mobile data completely or on certain distracting apps – For me it’s WhatsApp and when I tried this, I realized how many times I open the app with no particular intention. It might seem like just a few minutes, but you know what the say about little drops of water. 

b. Set a reasonable amount of time for studying – please dears, don’t schedule 3 hours for reading when you know you can only handle 45mins max at a stretch. 

Elizabeth talked about knowing what works for you and that still stands. You’ll need to revise your reading habits because the lockdown has messed with our sleep schedules so everything is a bit confusing. 

Make sure you’re picking a time that isn’t close to your bedtime. 

c. Avoid your comfort zones! – Once I’m on my bed, I go from initial gra gra to I can do it tomorrow now. That’s a default comfort zone and there’s not much we can get done there. But to be really be in tune with the idea of studying, create the atmosphere for it. So try sitting at a clear table with only your reading materials for a change. 

d. At the beginning of the lockdown, some friends and I started a writing challenge to help us hone our writing skills. We don’t always want to write, – because online school, laziness and procrastination exist – but we’ve made progress since we started the because we have been able to push each other through every challenge. Of all the group chats I’m in, this is by far the most productive and I’ve come to understand the secret behind its effectiveness.

It’s in our small number.

We’re just about 10 on the group chat and that makes communication, growth and accountability easier.  

Have someone that you can discuss with after reading. This will keep you accountable to an extent. You can send send voice notes explaining notes. A bonus to this is that it will stimulate all means of learning (oral or visual) and it will help you retain information a lot better than if you did it alone. 

One thing to avoid is having a group chat of more people than than necessary because let’s be honest, that’s just a distraction. 

Reward yourself:

Our revised national anthem begins with “I can’t come and kill myself”. After reading, you need to calm your navs (nerves) with something light. This will link reading to a pleasant emotion in your mind and motivate you to read more.

What’s important here is to be honest with yourself. (And yes, this is an attack). If you set a goal to read two slides and jot down, don’t give yourself a pat on the back for going halfway. Let the reward come only after you’re really done. 

If all else fails, just remind yourself that you want to graduate this year or that carryovers are more stressful than reading for a course right now. That should do the trick. 

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Image source: ugr.es

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