Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Secrets to Study Success

Hard to believe but true - I spent 11 years at University studying. That was definitely in my 'younger years' and I continue to gain more vocational qualifications. There are certainly a few key things that I learnt over this long period of time that helped me immensely in submitting assignments, compiling documentation and sitting exams. And helped me to reach my dream job....

1. The study timetable gets ditched way too often. Build your timetable in reverse - by this I mean, place the times and dates in to your schedule when you are NOT going to have time to study. Then, build your timetable around those 'exclusion zones'. In this way, you don't have to stop socialising or de-stressing via other activities. You can still watch your favourite shows and have time every day for other things you love doing.
2. Being busy does not equate to achieving your outcomes. It is often easy to hide in 'busy - work' as you avoid the tougher tasks that await you. On the face of things, you do indeed appear to be busy as your computer is on, you are reading or typing. Ultimately, if you look back at the morning, you realise that the major piece of work that needed to be submitted is incomplete because it might be challenging or not in your comfort zone.
3. Reward yourself. To overcome the busy-work phenomenon, motivate yourself. Adult learners have no parents to tie them to the desk or set up suitable motivation. It is up to us to have very clear, tangible goals. Write down on a page: This is what I want to do and this is how I am going to achieve it. Make this page visible or type it in to your phone as a daily reminder. Once we achieve a mini-goal, give yourself a small reward: a great treat, extra time out or anything that you really enjoy. Sounds basic AND it works!
4. Set up the right habits. I would say that this is probably the most important study tip that I ever followed. Once you have a routine, there is less to worry about. Just follow the routine and very soon, before you even realise it, your work is well under way. Researchers have noticed that if gym-goers have a strict routine, even on days when they do not really feel like exercising, they nonetheless go to classes and maintain their fitness levels. Ian Thorpe has often said that he did not always feel in the mood to swim up and down the pool doing his set practice laps. Nonetheless, his alarm clock went off at the same time and the same routine kicked in. The same applies to studying. Each day must have tasks that regularly get done. Even if it is a simple task such as reading an article, do something every day.
5. Combine what you do and what you don't know. It is not realistic to expect yourself to maintain your levels of motivation when every single thing that you are studying is completely new and unknown to you. If possible, in your study period, combine a few areas that you are familiar with together with areas that are totally unexplored territory. Your life experience does count - and you can draw on these experiences to complete your studies.
6. Practice relaxation or mindfulness techniques. You will find heaps of information on these techniques and how to practise them on the internet. Start in a small way and then build up your ability to de-stress and also focus on the tasks at hand. There is very strong and recent research that validates this approach and statistics to show just how our levels of concentration improve by applying meditation or mindfulness.

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