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Studying takes more than just sitting down, opening a textbook, and reviewing notes. If your study environment is not conducive to getting work done, then the retention of information will be severely undermined. Below you will find information on how to choose a study location, structure study time, concentration, retention, and relaxation. All of this will help to control your environment and make it the perfect place for studying.
Set aside a fixed place for studying and nothing but studying. This area needs to be shaped in such a way that it becomes the best environment for studying. It should be reasonably quiet and relatively free of distractions like radio, TV, and people. Several surveys suggest that 80 percent of a student's studying is done in his or her own room, not in a library or study hall.
Having a place that you can designate for studying and nothing else will help create an environment of habit where your instincts will focus on review. Then, whenever you sit down in that particular niche in the world, you'll feel like going right to work. Look at it this way; when you come into a classroom, you sit down and go to work by paying attention to the instructor. Your attitude and attention and behavior are automatic because in the past, the room has been associated with attentive listening and not much else. If you can arrange the same kind of situation for the place where you study, you will find it easier to sit down and start studying.
Before you begin an assignment, write down on a sheet of paper the time you expect to finish. Setting small goals will make the workload easier to split up and finish. Keep a record of your goal setting. This step will not take much time at all, however, it can be extremely effective. It may put just the slightest bit of pressure on you, enough so that your study behavior will become instantly more efficient. Keep the record of your goals as a measure of your study efficiency. Try setting slightly higher goals in successive evenings. Don't try to make fantastic increases in rate. Just increase the goal a bit at a time.
Set small, short-range goals for yourself. Divide your assignment into subsections and set a time for when you will have each section finished. If you are doing math, set a time goal for the solution of each problem, if you are reading, set a goal for each page or chapter. You will find that this is a way to increase your ability to study without daydreaming.
Strengthen your ability to concentrate by selecting a personal symbol that you can attribute to studying. Select one particular article of clothing, like a scarf or hat, or a little figurine or totem. Just before you start to study, put on the cap, or set the totem on your desk. This ceremony will aid concentration in two ways. First of all, it will be a signal to other people that you are working, and they should kindly not disturb you. Second, going through a short, regular ritual will help you get down to work, but be sure you don't use the cap or your idol when your are writing letters or daydreaming or just horsing around. Keep them just for studying. If your charm gets associated with anything besides books, get a new one. You must be very careful that it doesn't become a symbol for daydreaming.
If your mind wanders, stand up and face away from your books. Don't sit at your desk staring into a book and mumbling about your poor will power. If you do, your book will soon become associated with daydreaming and guilt. If you must daydream, which we all occasionally do, get up and turn around. Don't leave the room, just stand by your desk and daydream while you face away from your assignment. The physical act of standing up helps bring your thinking back to the job. Try it! You'll find that soon just telling yourself, "I should stand up now," will be enough to get you back on the track.
Stop at the end of each page in an assignment and slowly count to 10 when you are reading. This is an idea that may increase your study time, and it will be quite useful you if you find you can't concentrate and your mind is wandering. If someone were to ask you, "What have you read about?" and the only answer you could give is, "About thirty minutes," then you need to apply this technique. But remember, it is only useful if you can't concentrate as a sort of emergency procedure.
Set aside a certain time to begin studying. Certain behaviors are usually habitual at certain times of the day. If you examine your day carefully, you'll find that you tend to do certain things at predictable times. There may be changes from day to day, but, generally, parts of your behavior are habitual and time controlled. If you’re honest with yourself, you will find that time controlled behavior is fairly easy to start. The point is that if you can make studying – or at least some of your studying – habitual, it will be a lot easier to start. If the behavior is started at a habitual time, you will find that it is easier to start without daydreaming or thinking about other things.
Don't start any unfinished business just before the time to start studying. Most people tend to think about jobs they haven't finished or obligations they have to fulfill much more than things that they have done and gotten out of the way. Uncompleted activities tend to be remembered much longer than completed ones. If we apply that idea to the habit of daydreaming, you might suspect that uncompleted activities and obligations would be more likely to crop up as a source of daydreaming than completed ones. Therefore, when you know you're about to start studying, don't get involved in long discussions. Try to be habitual with the time you start, and be careful what you do before you start studying. This is one way to improve your ability to concentrate.
Another trick that helps increase your ability to concentrate is to keep a pencil and paper by your notebook. If, while you're studying, you happen to think about something that needs to be done, jot it down. Having written it down, you can go back to studying. You'll know that if you look at the pad later, you will be reminded of the things you have to do. Worrying about forgetting the things you have to do later might interfere with your studying.
Relax completely before you start to study. One approach to concentration is to ask yourself, "Does studying and bookwork scare me?" If you have to do something unpleasant, something that you know you may do poorly, how do you react?
You probably put it off as long as possible, find yourself daydreaming, and welcome reasons to stop studying. If you do react this way, you might suffer from learned book-anxiety. The key to breaking this book-anxiety daydream series is learning how to relax. It is almost impossible to feel anxiety when you are physically, deeply, and completely relaxed. Associate the book with relaxation, not with tension and anxiety.