Developing study habits is something that every university student should do. Whether you are in your first year or your last, it’s never too late to make studying a regular and productive task. Study habits refer to the practices that you use to help you learn academic material. Effective and regular habits help to improve your academic performance and avoid last minute stress.
There was a time early in my university degree where I had a lot of little things due every week. They weren’t big tasks but they were time consuming. I found myself slacking off at the beginning of the week and by the end (when everything was due) I was hurriedly trying to finish them all off. There was only enough time in my night to manage the workload. Instead of being able to get ahead, I was constantly playing catch up. It became apparent that working a little bit each day allowed me get ahead. So, I had time to make notes and study the material instead of just handing in homework that was due.
The benefits of regular study habits are invaluable for your grades. Not only does it mean that you are regularly revising material that you have learned throughout the day, but it is also a great way to stay on top of your work. Having productive study time each day means that you can get your study out of the way early. By completing some study each day, you give yourself more freedom on which subjects or assignments you want to work on.
Instead of starting assignments 2 days before they are due, you can properly plan and work on them each day to give yourself more time. Studying for a particular exam becomes easier when you have been revising the material for a few weeks already. Oh! And what’s that over there? That’s your notes for finals already done because you’ve stuck to your good study habits.
There is no one way to study and what works for some won’t work for others. I’m going to share a few key study habits that have helped improve the quality of work and productivity during my study.
Plan your study
A great study habit to have, planning ensures that you are regularly working and consistent with your time. I aim to study for 5 of the 7 days in a week. The other 2 days act as kind of rest days in the schedule. It gives me some flexibility when I might be working or have a social event planned. The idea is to plan to study on days when you know you are free. You can plan for more or less study accordingly to your schedule.
You also want to make sure that you are consistent with study. Studying at the same time each day can help you to build a habit. Once it’s a habit, it becomes easier to complete. You won’t even think twice doing it.
Notes are a great way to use study time. The best part about them is that you are both making revision material and revising while you make them. Making it a study habit to rewrite your quick lecture notes each night or summarise a textbook chapter or readings is incredibly useful for long term studying. Writing notes for your classes as you go to them is much better than trying to make 5 weeks worth of notes at the end of semester. When it comes to exam time, all your notes have already been made and you can spend your time revising them instead of making them.
I actually find making notes quite structured and relaxing (although I know some of you may not share this passion. Ha!). If making pages of notes isn’t your thing, try making summary pages at the end of the week or per topic instead.
Set achievable study goals
Achievable is important. If you tell yourself that you are going to finish a 5,000 word assignment every day, it’s probably not going to happen. Setting goals that are near impossible, or that you know you won’t finish can be super demotivating and chances are you are not going to stick to regular study habits if you feel like you aren’t completing your work. Aim to break down your assignments into parts and complete it this way. Work on the introduction one night and a body paragraph the next. Completing small achievable tasks will motivate you to continue.
Track your study habits!
Tracking any habit can help you stay motivated and on task, and study habits are no exception. I always love ticking or marking things off because it gives me a sense of achievement. Also, at the end of the week you can see how productive you’ve been!
You can make your own study tracker or habit tracker to keep you on task, or you can use one of mine. I have THREE different study habit trackers for you to use or, for those who like to keep everything on their computer, I have an electronic excel study tracker free to download.
There are three kind of printable study tracker. The first and second both cover the whole semester and are organised by weeks. The first has 2 boxes for each day. You can use the first box to plan when you want to study and the second box to mark off that you have studied. The second has just circles to mark off when you have studied.
The third is a fortnightly semester tracker, with more room to plan out the study that you want to complete. This is useful for those of you who like to make lists or allocate a time to particular subjects.
The electronic study tracker is an excel worksheet. Once you download you can plug in the amount of time that you plan to study each day. Then you just can put in your completed study and the tracker will tell you your total hours for the week and the semester. There’s even graphs to look at your study habits over the semester!
Sign up to get access to all the study tracker downloads and the rest of The Cosmic Road resource library!