- Procrastination is the number 1 problem when it comes to studying.
- The number 2 problem is that when we study we mostly likely study effectivity.
How to beat Procrastination
Let’s face it. You probably never want to study. It’s hard and sometimes it doesn’t pay off.
Procrastination can cause problems for even the smartest students. If you’re a procrastinator, study skills and study strategies will not necessarily help you.
The best way to tackle procrastination is head on. The best method that I have found is the 5 Second Rule by Mel Robins.
What is the 5 second rule?
“The moment you have an instinct to act on a goal you must count 5–4–3–2–1 and physically move or your brain will stop you.”
Pushing yourself to take simple actions creates a chain reaction in your confidence and your productivity. By pushing yourself to take the simple steps of moving your life forward, you create momentum and experience a sense of freedom and power that’s hard to accurately describe.
Start by counting backwards to yourself: 5- 4- 3- 2- 1. The counting will help you focus on the goal or commitment and distract you from the worries, thoughts, and fears in your mind. As soon as you reach “1,” move. That’s it. Anytime there’s something you know you should do, but you feel uncertain, afraid, or overwhelmed…just take control by counting backwards 5- 4- 3- 2- 1. That’ll quiet your mind. Then, move when you get to 1.
The 5 Second Rule is a form of metacognition, which means that it’s a way of tricking your brain in order to achieve your greater goals. This would include learning goals as well.
Along with momentum, something else keeps you moving forward: The Progress Principle. Research from the Harvard Business School has demonstrated that making progress, even in small ways, is the key to productivity and happiness.
This can be applied to study habits and goals. The rule allows you to beat your brain at its own game and distract it from the ways that it tries to sabotage you. When you need to study start the countdown and do it.
How to study more effectively
According the book Make It Stick: Many common study habits and practice routines turn out to be counterproductive. Here are 4.
- Underlining and highlighting
- Single-minded repetition of new skills
“But, but…cramming works!”
In a blog By Yana Weinstein & Megan Smith on learningscientists.org they point out honestly the benefits and down falls of cramming.
If you’re reading this and you’re skeptical because cramming has worked just fine for you in the past, here’s why. Cramming can, indeed, do exactly what it suggests – cram information into your mind right before an exam. However, there are at least three really big problems with this.
First, cramming actually takes more time. Think about it: if you learn more in the same amount of time spaced out (e.g., 5 hours in 1-hour increments compared to one 5-hour cram session), then you have to spend more time during the cramming session to get to the same level of learning.
Second, as quickly as you learned that information, you will then also forget it. You may do fine on the test, but all that extra time you spent during cramming? It will all have been wasted. If you had spaced your learning, you would forget much less after the test. No matter what you are learning – science, math, a foreign language – future learning will depend on previous learning. It is therefore very inefficient to forget everything you learned for one test, only to have to re-learn it again later along with new, more complicated information! This also applies to future classes, where it might be helpful to retain knowledge from a previous class.
Another reason why cramming is a bad idea is that it inevitably replaces sleep, which is very important for learning and also for your mental and physical health more generally. So, resolve to form a healthy habit today and plan to space your learning!
Here are the study methods that work.
They work because they have been validated and they are consistent with the latest research in neuroscience. Again from the book Make It Stick:
More complex and durable learning comes from self-testing and practice:
Types of practice:
• Spaced practice means spreading out your retrieval sessions with a meaningful time-gap between practice sessions.
• Interleaved practice means alternating topics or deliberately leaving regular blanks or intervals between practices. This is more effective than focusing on the same problem or topic for an extended period of time.
• Variation. Rather than repeat the same retrieval practice every time, vary the type and context of your retrievals. Similar to interleaving, variation enhances your ability to compare similarities and differences across various scenarios, and to integrate related ideas and/or skills into meaningful schemas or mental models for better solutions.
These work because you introducing certain difficulties in practice, waiting to re-study new material until a little forgetting has set in, and interleaving the practice of one skill or topic with another.
Here are some effective learning strategies/principles:
• Effortful learning. It’s a myth that great learning should be fast and easy. Learning is actually deeper and longer-lasting when it’s more difficult and effortful, as it helps to reconsolidate memory, create mental models and increase brain neural connections.
• Learning Structures, not Learning Styles. Rather than focus on your preferred learning styles (e.g. visual vs auditory learning), it’s more effective to focus on building learning structures or mental models of how you learn.
• Avoid Illusions of Knowing. We are generally poor judges of what we know and don’t know.
Understand our brain’s natural biases and illusions, and use “calibration” to objectively evaluate your learning.
For more information about proven study skills back by neuroscience take this free online course from Learning Frames.
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