Maintaining Your Momentum

Tips to Help You Break-Through When Studying Becomes a Chore

Let’s face it.  The required reading in some classes is simply riveting.  In many ways as students we start out in Phase One by ‘eating dessert first.’  Everything is fresh and new.  However as we continue on into some classes with more substantial content the challenge to complete classes can become quite overwhelming and we might wonder, “Will I ever get through this?”  In case you’re wondering.  The answer is a resounding, “YES!!!”

Anyone who has been a student for very long knows which classes I’m referring to.  It especially includes those books that make excellent reference materials because they are so detailed.  They start off thrilling, then quickly provide so much information that our brains turn to mush, and our journey of walking through the material at some point becomes a bit like wading up to ones knees in mud.

Well here are several techniques I have used while trying to accomplish all the reading in my coursework.  Perhaps it’s just the child in me but they all involve making a bit of a game of it.

MAKE A GAME OF IT!

First, set a number of small goals that you can accomplish.  When I found I was having serious trouble maintaining my focus I would do some of the following:

 

Mark Up The Books!

Underline what stands out.  Maybe even read with a six-inch ruler or a stiff bookmark to make straight lines.  Write notes to yourself in the margins.  If you use a highlighter be sure to get one that does not bleed through the pages.  Also write notes directly on your tests.  Page numbers can even be written next to the test questions for future reference.

 

Set Manageable Goals

Set a goal for when you would like to finish the class.  For example, let’s say two weeks or a month.  Next count how many pages of actual reading you will need to do (minus the index.)  Divide that total by the days to meet your goal (in this case 14.)  So let’s say you end up having to read 25 pages per day to finish your class in two weeks.

Each day that you accomplish your smaller 25-page goal you will feel a sense of accomplishment.  By reading these 25 pages or even more, you will have met (or exceeded) your goal for that day.  Any additional time you spend either takes off from the next day’s study, reduces the amount of pages due per day (you can then recalculate), or helps you meet your longer-term goal sooner.

It’s a great technique because you control how flexible it needs to be.  If 25 pages is not enough you can increase it and finish sooner.  If it is too much, there’s not harm in slowing down.  Each of us is different with different goals and different demands on our time  The important thing is to feel good about our progress.

I know.  It’s just a ‘mind game’ right?  Well sure, but it works!  Instead of feeling guilt and dread due to being overwhelmed, one can instead feel empowered because they have successfully accomplished a mini-goal.  Win win!  Right?

 

Use The Test As A Goal Setting Tool

Another game one can play is to use the test as a progress marker (a variation on the theme above.)  Try to find all the answers to just one page or a section (which is frequently a chapter.)  Those can quickly become short-term goals and we don’t even have to use math to figure it out!

 

Read Out Loud

Speaking is slower than reading, but it is still forward progress.  Use this for those times when you are having trouble focusing and/or comprehension seems to be lacking.  Sometimes this technique can actually help rekindle interest in the material and you’ll soon be attentive and back to reading silently.

 

Read a Second Book Concurrently

Ideally you might choose a more conversational book that you can relax into.  Reward yourself by reading from your “conversational” book AFTER you have worked on completing your hard coursework.

 

Treat Yourself!

Have a nice hot cup of tea when you finish your daily goal!  WARNING:  Don’t treat yourself with cookies if you use this method frequently.

 

Set Up a Massaging Foot Bath!

Gather everything you need to pamper yourself and your feet.  While your toes are warm and toasty, and getting a much needed massage, you are studying and ‘gettin’ ‘er done’!

 

Don’t Do It Alone!

Use the Student Facebook page to reach out to another student working through your class and encourage each other.  Many students are willing to share how they made it through and to offer their encouragement.  Who couldn’t use more of that?

 

Mine for Gold!

While you are studying, look for the one thing that stood out to you the most each day and share it with someone else.  Call your mom or dad; tell your child, niece, nephew or neighbor; write your grandma or grandpa a letter; text a friend; you could even tell a cashier (after all they are a captive audience); post on Facebook; or tweet on Twitter.  Above all be creative.  Why?  Because this solidifies your knowledge and gives you experience speaking about the information you have learned.  It also affirms your progress.  Each of those things are valuable in an of themselves both now and in the future!

 

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme…

Study time is always a good time to break out the diffuser and breathe in some essential oils.

  • Rosemary stimulates mental and physical energy and has been shown to increase memory by 75 percent!
  • Eucalyptus is great if you’re having trouble staying awake. If you’re also a little “stuffy” in the sinuses, it will help clear that up as well.  After all, have you ever met a stuffy koala?
  • Peppermint stimulates the brain thereby increasing alertness and attention. Great for tasks that require sustained focus.
  • “Citrusy” scents like lemon, sweet orange, and grapefruit increase mental stimulation and happiness (boost serotonin production.)

…and lastly remember to be kind to your eyes when you read!

The 20-20-20 Rule

  • Every 20 minutes
  • Look at an object 20 feet away
  • For a minimum of 20 seconds

You can also get up and walk around for a minute or two.  Perhaps put a washer load into the dryer, wash a few dishes, or make a trip to the mailbox.  This is great for your whole body circulation as well as giving the eyes a break and refreshing your concentration.

So tell us.  What things do you do when the going gets tough?  You might just have an idea that helps someone else!

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