BLOG: All Things Higher Ed

5 tips to improve your study time efficiency

Developing strong study habits is vital for academic success. Learning effective time management prepares you for long-term success in high school, college, and beyond, shaping your career and daily life. Understanding your learning style and implementing strategic study techniques can enhance efficiency and confidence. Here are five techniques to minimize stress and maximize performance on tests and quizzes.

At Central Michigan University, your success is our goal. We even have a office dedicated to it! Check out the resources available through the Office of Student Success.

Explore more study strategies


1. Prioritize your tasks

Staying organized and spacing out your studying is not just a helpful aspect but a crucial element when it comes to effective time management. One powerful tool to achieve this is creating a comprehensive to-do list. This list acts as a roadmap, enabling you to have a clear overview of all the tasks and topics you need to focus on.

By structuring your list, you can establish the order in which you want to approach each item, ensuring an efficient workflow. This organized approach allows you to gauge important dates for exams, projects, or quizzes, empowering you to prioritize your tasks.

To take your organizational skills to the next level, consider implementing various colors or a color-coding system within your to-do list. This visual technique adds another layer of clarity and makes it easier to categorize tasks based on their urgency, subject, or type.

As you work through your list, the feeling of crossing off an item brings a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. It signifies that you have completed a task- Woohoo! Keep that motivation moving forward and tackle the next item on your list!

2. Take breaks

It's essential to give yourself the opportunity to disconnect from your study routine and engage in activities that help you decompress, unplug and recharge. Going for a refreshing walk, spending quality time with friends, scrolling mindlessly on social media, or simply petting a dog can work wonders. Stepping away from your work for a period of time allows you to reset your mind and rethink the material at hand from a fresh perspective. During these moments of downtime, new ideas may suddenly spark, enriching your understanding and approach to the subject matter.

Not only do breaks contribute to your mental well-being, but they also have tangible benefits for your physical health. If you've been sitting for an extended period, fixated on a computer screen, or buried in a book, it's probably time to give your body and eyes a well-deserved break.

Keep the 20-20-20 rule in mind. According to Healthline, it is advised to take breaks every 20 minutes to focus your gaze on an object approximately 20 feet away for a minimum of 20 seconds. This practice helps alleviate the strain on your eyes, reduces the risk of headaches, and provides momentary relaxation for your overall well-being.

Carving out regular and deliberate rest periods is crucial for a successful study session. Attempting to power through hours of continuous studying without any breaks is a recipe for exhaustion, boredom, and disengagement from the material. By taking frequent breaks, you give your mind the opportunity to recharge, enabling you to maintain focus and absorb information more effectively.

3. Stay positive

Studying can be extremely stressful, especially if you've waited until the last minute to review your material or notes (psst... you're not alone!). However, it's important to keep things in perspective and not let doubt and worry consume you, especially when it comes to the possibility of failing an exam. Remember, you are often your own harshest critic, and even if you don't achieve the desired outcome initially, there are typically opportunities to improve your grade.

Your attitude plays a pivotal role in your success. Stay upbeat and optimistic as you study, fully believing that you will conquer whatever subject you're tackling. The best feeling is walking out of an exam or quiz, knowing that your efforts were worth it and that it's finally over. Keep this rewarding thought in your mind as you dedicate yourself to studying. 

In addition to maintaining a positive mindset, take time to celebrate the small victories along the way. As you study, divide your material into manageable sections or chapters and set goals to complete them within specific timeframes. Once you've successfully studied a section or finished a chapter, take a moment to acknowledge and celebrate your accomplishment. Then, move on to the next area, continuing this pattern of focused progress.

Remember to take short breaks, stretch, and stay hydrated to keep your momentum going. And most importantly, have confidence in yourself. You've got this!

4. Ask questions 

Never underestimate the power of communicating with your professors. Attending office hours provides you with a prime opportunity to proactively address any confusion or doubts that may arise throughout your studies. Procrastination often stems from not knowing where to start. Utilize office hours to seek explanation and guidance. This is a safe and supportive space to seek clarification.

Professors are there to help you succeed and answer your questions. Don't hesitate to ask multiple questions instead of being stuck wondering. Professors are interested in your success and are eager to help you navigate through challenging course material. Take advantage of this dedicated time and remember, there are no bad questions! 

In addition to office hours with your professors, take advantage of the student support services that universities offer. At Central Michigan University, there are many resources available to assist college students in their academic journey, including the Career Development Center, Mathematics Assistance Center, Tutoring ServicesWriting Center and the Office of Student Success. These support services are designed to provide you with the guidance and tools you need to excel in your studies and achieve your academic goals.

5. Change your scenery

Understanding your preferred study environment is essential, but it's equally important to recognize the value of changing up your surroundings. Something as simple as getting up, going for a walk, and stumbling across a table under a big tree can result in changing your level of focus. Research shows that your scenery and what is around you can have an impact on how you study, and how well you retain the information you are reviewing.

It is highly recommended to find a quiet area that promotes deep concentration. Many campus libraries provide designated “quiet floors” to shield students from distractions and noise. However, if you find yourself more at ease in a busy coffee shop, that works too!

Ultimately, prioritize your comfort, and don't hesitate to switch up your study space. One of the perks of attending a university is the abundance of unique study spots scattered across the campus. You have countless options to choose from, whether it's the Clarke Historical Library, the University Center conveniently located next to Starbucks, a bench in front of the University seal, a relaxing hammock in Warriner Mall, or even inside the CMU Greenhouse with beautiful plants all around you. Explore campus and find the perfect spot that resonates with your study preferences.

Whether you are a freshman in college, a senior, or a graduate student, building a solid foundation for your study habits is key to flourishing academically, and it is never too late to develop good study habits. Remember, you have control over how you spend your time, so prioritize your tasks wisely, maintain a positive attitude, vary your study environment, and lean on those around you for extra support. By following these principles, you will enhance your studying skills, paving the way for academic success and personal growth.

Blog: All Things Higher Ed posted | Last Modified: | Categories: University Communications
The views and opinions expressed in these blog pages are strictly those of the page author.