5 study tips to try while you work on your dissertation or final project
- The Pomodoro method : First thing to address is that no, we are not talking about some delicious tomato pasta (unfortunately). The Pomodoro method is actually a study method that has been shown to increase productivity.
How it works : Essentially you work in periods of twenty-five minutes with short breaks in between (around five minutes). While this might seem counter-productive, knowing that you have something to look forward to and that you only have to concentrate for a short period of time actually works. Once you have successfully completed four ‘pomodoros’ the method suggests you reward yourself with a slightly larger break 15-30 mins. And then start all over again!
Adaptation : Naturally, sometimes when you begin to work and really settle into a rhythm, it is easier to just continue, even after your timer goes off. That’s okay! But remember to take a break and stretch your legs when you finish that paragraph or calculation.
Change your work set-up
: Due to the pandemic, many of us have been remodelling every inch of
our house, some out of pure boredom, and others who have become more
aware of particular imperfections. It is hard to wake up, work and
exercise all in the same space, and sadly, this is the reality of many
students this year. However, there are small and effective ways to
spruce up your study environment and maximise productivity.
What to do: Clean and tidy your work space, be that a desk, counter, kitchen table or even a folding bed desk. Make sure that if you’re using a computer, you have everything you require. Many students have invested in laptop stands to elevate the screen, second monitors, and wireless keyboards. Indeed all of these can help with your posture, the rhythm at which you work and even your eyesight. If you want to make things even more interesting, choose a trendy or colourful setup that can make your workplace aesthetic as well as practical. Ensure that your study space smells nice too. While many landlords don’t allow the use of candles, especially in halls or private accommodation, you can always use automatic air fresheners, potpourri or reed diffusers. If you are lucky enough to use candles, explore the world of wax melting, that lets you mix scents and find your favourite combination (as well as being aesthetically pleasing!).
Extra tip: Avoid using your workplace for eating or leisure. It is important to distinguish different spaces, no matter how small your facilities are.
- Music or ASMR: Many studies have shown that listening to music while you study is beneficial as it raises your spirits, increases motivation and can sometimes improve memory. It does not work for everyone however, and it can be distracting, especially if it is something with lyrics that you will start singing along to instead of working. We all react differently to music and have different tastes: maybe music isn’t for you, but have you tried ASMR? If you’re unfamiliar with it, you might think of those odd videos of people whispering into microphones or even scrunching plastic loudly… Well while that is certainly a side of ASMR, there are many variations. If you are a fan of a particular franchise, say Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars, you will definitely find websites or youtube videos dedicated to creating audio clips that emulate the sounds of that particular world. If you’re not into fiction, you can also find nature sounds such as rain and thunder, urban sounds such as traffic, or even the sounds of a buzzing coffee shop, if you miss your old study spot.
Alteration : If music and ASMR aren’t working for you either and you’re an excellent multitasker, you might even try listening to an old favourite audiobook or podcast. These can be distracting, but if it’s something you know well and that doesn't require much concentration, you might actually find it stimulating and inspiring!
- Planning: This one is obvious, but it is one that often gets overlooked. If you don’t have a planner, go out and get one now or create your own! All you need at the end of the day is a sheet of paper where you can map out the week. Then all you need to do is set boundaries: decide on how many hours per day you want to work, save time for socialising or general entertainment. Identify important deadlines and decide exactly how much time you want to dedicate to each task. This will help you create routines, get work done and maybe even finish ahead of schedule! There is nothing more satisfying than looking at your planner and ticking off all the things you have accomplished… And if you haven't done every single thing, not to worry, you can reschedule the following days and make sure you have enough time.
- Social studying: Are you the kind of student that thrives at the library, surrounded by others, or even at the park with your friends? That might have been a difficult scenario to replicate this year, but there are alternatives out there if social studying is your thing. Some universities have set up their own online study sessions, where people can join a video call and keep each other company while they work. This might be a little strange if you’re focusing on a personal assignment like a dissertation or project, but you never know when you might find someone with good advice, or even a good joke to put a smile on your face during this stressful period. Make sure to find out if your university offers this service, and if not, there are plenty of open ones online.
Did you know that over 60% of students do most of their studying in their room? www.acccommodationforstudents.com has the best selection of student rooms in the uk.