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The Most Unhelpful Study Habits (and How To Unlearn Them) | Undergrad Success
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The Most Unhelpful Study Habits (and How To Unlearn Them)

The Most Unhelpful Study Habits (and How To Unlearn Them)

Being in a life of education is great because it embeds certain habits and academic skills within us. However, on the other side of the coin, we learn bad habits. When we have certain approaches to our work, especially when it comes to studying habits, we have to potentially unlearn many things we have learned. We may have studied the materials, but the results show otherwise. It’s an ongoing process, but sometimes we have to unlearn things. This includes unhelpful study habits. Let’s show you some of these unhelpful study habits, and how to fix them.

Not Studying To Understand

One of the more unhelpful habits we get into is we study to remember, rather than comprehend. This means that, after a while, we get into the habit of memorizing material for tests or exams. And when we start to learn things by rote, we never engage with the material. Part of the solution to this is to bring it back to basics. While we are aware of the words on the page, they go into our brains and back out again. But this is where we can take the opportunity to connect the materials. Everybody knows how to read, but absorbing information is something completely different. Sometimes we have to go back, really far back. Sometimes we need to look at easy reading comprehension tips and you may think that it is overly simplistic. But sometimes, taking the opportunity to absorb every single word you read, rather than just reading it, will give you a far better connection to the material. There are other approaches you can use, such as a mind map but sometimes, it’s as simple as actually learning how to focus on the material in front of you. Understand, rather than memorize.

Easily Being Distracted

One of the most difficult aspects of studying is that now there is so much out there to distract us. There is social media, cell phones, television, and so on. It’s not as easy as turning your cellphone off or logging out of social media, but it’s about ensuring that you are distant from these distractions, physically and mentally. You can feel the temptation to check your phone, even if it is turned off. And this means associating one area of your room with studying. The big mistake we all make is studying in our beds, but what happens is that when we start to associate somewhere we work with somewhere we sleep, there is no separation in our minds. Finding the ideal space where you can get into the mindset for studying is essential. At the same time, associating one space with relaxing and sleeping creates this chasm in your mind.

Not Going In Without a Plan

Studying seems like a pretty straightforward approach, right? All you need to do is find out what you need to study, and read it. But the importance of creating a study plan helps to break down the task into bite-size chunks. It can be overwhelming to study an entire chapter of a book in the space of one night. But this is where we start to break down the task into mini study sessions. It’s also important to remember that you may want to alter your approach to learning. If you have a chapter of a book to read, but reading is one of those things that distract you, think about how you can absorb the information in other words. Part of this is about understanding what your learning style is, but also setting goals for each mini-study session. Incredibly simple, but going in with a plan can make you accomplish so much.

Not Keeping Organized Notes

Some people keep notes to help them remember things, but they may not be using the right method. You can take a leaf out of a lawyer’s book. Lawyers have to learn and absorb countless facts, figures, and timelines, but also analyze them. There are certain ways to take better study notes. There are methods such as the Cornell method, the mapping method, the outlining method, the charting method, and the sentence method. And everybody has their own approach. It’s worth trying each method to see which helps you best. Sometimes people benefit from a collection of highlighter pens associated with different notes. For example, highlighting things in yellow could relate to dates. When you start to have an organized system, you will have a better way of absorbing information. It could very well be as simple as this.

Studying at the Last Minute

This is purely an exercise in how good your short-term memory is. It relates back to the earlier point where you are studying purely to remember, rather than understand. This is where planning will always come in handy, and organizing your study sessions will benefit you. There will always be things that get in the way, and you may think that you can benefit from leaving a certain assignment or study session until the night before. But this is when you start to pile the pressure on yourself. If you start an assignment or a study session a week before an exam or deadline, you can complete the process little by little. And when you are studying the night before, you could very well feel that sensation of dread. And if you spent hours studying the night before, but you are not getting anything done, this compounds the worry. You may feel that you thrive better under pressure. But this goes back to the idea of having a good short term memory, rather than actually absorbing information. Partly, you can offset this by understanding when you are at your most productive. Find out the best time you are productive, and you can study then.

Not Creating a Reward System

Motivation is a big problem for most of us. If we feel that we spent many years in education, and now college is the perfect time to let loose, we will never incorporate good study habits. But studying doesn’t have to be this overwhelming and anxiety-inducing practice. You can help yourself by incorporating motivation tactics and techniques. And if you are someone that truly hates studying, a reward system might be best for you. The trick is to make the reward minimal. Something that many people do would be to take a 10-minute break after you’ve completed a certain aspect of your study. There are benefits to stepping away from studying because it helps to consolidate information, such as taking a nap, but the important thing to remember is not to take liberties with it.

Not Asking for Help

Finally, this very simple thing may be all it takes. Some people feel that they shouldn’t ask for help, or feel foolish in saying they don’t understand something. What can help you is to spend a couple of minutes each night reviewing and reflecting on what you’ve learned that day. It’s about consolidating that information, and when you go back to school, starting to reach out to the professor and ask for some clarification on certain notes can be intimidating. But, you have to remember that if you do not ask, you do not get. It is your education. There is nothing wrong with comparing study notes with other people because sometimes it gives you an angle on the subject that you have noticed. Sometimes, we can feel left behind if someone is appearing to do well in their studies. But they might be as scared as you are. The only thing you can do is focus on your habits. And learning to unlearn these unhelpful study habits could make all the difference.


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