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Improving Your Study Habits

Based on How to Study in College, by Walter Pauk

CARRY POCKET WORK 
Always carry something you can do while waiting in lines, when sitting down to rest, and while eating alone.

GUARD AGAINST THE POWER OF PARKINSON'S LAW 
When making a schedule or sitting down to do an assignment, make an estimate of the time needed to finish the assignment.  Then, try hard to finish it in that time.  If you don't set a time limit, Parkinson's law will take over; that is, the assignment will stretch itself to fill whatever time you have available.

SET PRIORITIES REALISTICALLY
Keep in mind, "First things first."  Do the most important things first and begin them immediately.  Nothing will inspire you to do more work than having something already done and behind you.

START WRITING THAT PAPER
Get that first sentence down.  It doesn't matter whether it's good or poor.  Getting started -- beginning to think and concentrate -- that's the important thing.

NEVER LOOK BACK
Stop hacking up your self-image and filling your stomach with ulcer-producing acids through regrets and self-blame.  Wipe your life's slate clean and resolve to do a better job immediately by making no snap judgments or fast decisions.  In sum, stop wasting time on the past.

BEWARD OF THE FOUR GREAT ROBBERS OF TIME

  1. Laziness: "I just don't feel like doing it."
  2. Sidetracks: "Oh, I had better see Mike first."
  3. Procrastination: "I'll do it later.
  4. Daydreaming:  "Someday I'll amaze them all."

CONCENTRATE YOUR TIME AND EFFORTS  
Avoid jumping from subject to subject.  In the end, many things are touched, but none are finished.  When you focus the sun's rays on a piece of paper, they will burn a hole through it.  Unfocused rays of light, like scattered time and effort, make no impression at all.

BEAT THE SLEEPY FEELING
While studying, if you get sleepy before your scheduled sleep time, don't knuckle under by taking a nap.  Instead, pick up your textbook, stand up, and pace the floor, reading aloud as you do.

USE YOUR PRECIOUS SPARE TIME TO THINK
While walking from a class, try to recall all the main points of the lecture you just heard.  If you're walking to a class, try to recall the main points of the lecture given at the last meeting of the class.  At other times, try to think up interesting topics and titles for your next paper.

TAKE STUDY BREAKS
Breaking up a long assignment is a more effective study method, and here's why: First, breaks keep you from getting tired and bored.  Second, you work harder and concentrate better in shorter spurts.  Third, five-minute breaks are great motivators.  And fourth, the material you just studied has a chance to sink in during the rest periods.

USE A MONTH-AT-A-GLANCE CALENDAR
Buy or make -- but definitely use -- a calendar that shows the entire month on one page.  For precise control, you need to see what's due and when at a glance.  Above all, don't use a page for each day because assignments hidden from view in next week's pages are "out of sight and out of mind."

OBEY THE ALARM CLOCK

Don't play games with yourself.  That's for kids.  Once you have reasoned and decided to get up, don't argue this decision when the alarm rings the next morning.  Without further thinking, make those feet hit the floor immediately.  Five minutes later, you'll be glad you did.

MAKE NOTES TO YOURSELF
Before you stop studying for the night, write a note to yourself indicating what to begin with at your next study period.  You'll be surprised at how much time you'll save when you sit down to study and find a note to yourself, telling you exactly what to do.