The thought of getting out the books and settling down for a long stint of studying can be off-putting to say the least, so much so that it deters you from starting at all. Here are some ideas that take just a minute of your day. Next time you’re standing at the bus stop, waiting for Facebook to load, or it’s the commercial break during X-Factor, don’t waste the time. Try one of these:
1. Sharpen your mental maths: recite a times table; add/subtract/multiply/divide random numbers; convert fractions to decimals; work out a percentage of an amount; or any other calculations that you’ve been working on in class recently.
2. Practise a foreign language: speak (aloud or in your head) on the topic you’ve been studying; conjugate verbs in different tenses; run through vocabulary items.
3. Take a subject you’ve had that day and recall as much as possible about what you learnt; define key terms; mentally list the main points, or the details.
4. Carry your revision cards with you so you can memorise and test yourself on: quotations for English literature; vocabulary for a language; mathematical formula; terms and definitions; those tricky words that you find difficult to spell. Alternatively, you could have questions on one side and the answers on the back.
5. Whilst you’re doing the above, make a mental or written note of anything you can’t remember or need to check out later.
Don’t forget that all these single minutes can add up to a lot of time so never under-estimate how much can be achieved in short bursts. Running through things on a regular basis keeps them bubbling away in your mind and helps you to commit them to long-term memory.
Of course, there will be times when you need to settle down to a longer session but are having trouble making the commitment, and let’s face it, getting started is often the most difficult part. To help overcome this hurdle, set a timer for ten or fifteen minutes and fully focus for that time: get out your books, read a paragraph, make some notes, sketch an essay plan, make a list of topics to revise with textbook page numbers, anything at all. Stop when the timer goes off – if you can. You might just find that once you’ve started, you don’t want to stop.
My final tip is for the end of a study session. Make a note in an easily accessible place (diary, phone, notebook, laptop) of the first thing to do at the beginning of your next study session. That way, you won’t waste time trying to remember where you got to.
Now that you’ve finished reading this, set your timer for one minute and try one of the above tasks. Easy, isn’t it?