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Study Essentials

Top Study Tips for College

When you're planning for how your life will be when you go off to college, the list of things you need to arrange is seemingly endless: pack all of your clothes and belongings, figure out how to make your dorm your own and learn how to navigate campus life. As soon as the semester starts, you're in the throes of all the adjusting you need to do. It's important to keep in mind the fundamental reason you and all of your classmates are at college: for the education you'll receive and the doors and opportunities that it'll open. The differences between academics in higher education and the day-to-day of high school are night and day. The number one priority on your list is to figure out how to make the most of your time--and how you can elevate studying to an art.

Time Management

The top dog when it comes to mastering the art of studying is time management. But what exactly is time management? Simply put, it's the ability to triage your tasks and assign values to how important each entry on the list is. Then, it's allocating the appropriate amount of time, energy and resources to crossing each task off your to-do list.

It's common for things to feel overwhelming when you first get to college. Fret not. Practicing great time management is the best way to cope with all the demands you'll face and all you'll need to finish in potentially tight deadlines. By creating a game plan and budgeting for your time, you can create a system that'll keep you on track. When midterms, finals and any other exams roll around, you'll be ahead of the curve.

Remember, it's not about doing things in superhuman speed. Time management comes down to consistency and doing a little bit spread over a period of time rather than waiting until your deadlines are looming.

The Time for Focus and the Time for Fun

As the old saying goes, everything in moderation. Just as you shouldn't forget about your coursework and neglect to attend classes, it's also not healthy to let your leisure activities fall by the wayside. In fact, if you don't ever take a break from the grind, your productivity is likely to drop and retention of information will become less reliable.

Time management goes hand-in-hand with knowing when to take a break and letting off some steam. Knowing when to turn your brain off and enjoy yourself is equally as important as it is to stay on top of your classes and obligations. For that reason, it's crucial that you learn to work hard but to also leave room on your schedule for quality time with friends, engage in hobbies and to do things "just because."

Taking Breaks Between Bursts of Focus Sessions

There are a lot of great productivity apps available to help you structure your study sessions. A popular method that works for many people is to break their to-do list in a series of small, quick-to-resolve steps. Then, they set a timer to mark a block of time during which they do a mental sprint and focus on completing one or two tasks. For studying, this can be anywhere from 25 minutes to 45 minutes of non-stop focus.

Once the timer goes off, it's pencils and paper down. Stop what you're doing and stand up, meditate or do anything else that doesn't involve cursory glances at your work. Set the timer to go off in 5 to 15 minutes. Once that buzzer sounds, sit back down and carry on with what you're doing.

The beauty of this method is that it gives you bite-sized tasks that really add up. They're measurable and, most importantly, doable even when you're having an off day. Regardless of how productive your sprints turn out to be, you'll be nurturing a new habit that will bear fruit.

Taking Care of Your Health

Fun and relaxation are important, but you can't forget to account for your overall health, either. Working too hard can have a series of adverse effects that wreak havoc on your body and mind. A healthy, balanced diet can offset many of these potential downsides.

Other activities you can take on to boost your well-being are making sure you're getting enough quality sleep and finding the time to get a good workout. If you live on a residential campus, use one of your focus breaks to take a walk outside your dorm. If you have any athletic inclinations, join a team. There's no shortage of possibilities: trekking on a nature trail, going to a gym for cardio and/or strength training, or yoga, among many others.

Whatever you opt to do, you'll be acting in the best interest of all the items on this list. There's no better use of your time than performing some physical activity, or engage in relaxation techniques. The tension will melt right off you. It's win-win-win.

College and dorm life will often feel like a balancing act. Not only will you flourish with these tips, you'll also revel in the satisfaction of achieving your goals all on your own. Go forth and conquer.

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