Breaking Bad Habits at School - Five Tips for Success
If your grades are suffering, it could be because you’ve accumulated some bad habits that need to be broken. It’s not easy to break any bad habit—it can take considerable willpower to get yourself to change. But it is possible—and sometimes your grades depend on it. Here are a few tips that will help you replace bad study habits with more effective ones.
Know what you’re doing wrong
It’s hard to break your bad study habits if you’re not sure what they are. Some—like chronic procrastination or skipping classes—are easy to identify. Others may be more pervasive and difficult. For a period of time, pay careful attention to your behavior.
Write down your time spent on certain activities while studying—do you focus continually on your studies or do you get easily distracted by Facebook or friends stopping by?
Remove yourself from distracting situations
College isn’t easy for anyone—but it gets considerably easier if you don’t have bad study habits holding you down.
Sometimes you can’t break bad study habits unless you make it difficult—or impossible—to engage in distracting activity. For instance, if you’re continually distracted by the Internet when writing papers, it can help to download a free program like Freedom, which will block the Internet for a specific period of time on both Macs and PC’s. If you’re always socializing when you should be studying, take your studies to the library, an off-campus café, or another place where you aren’t as likely to run into friends.
Reward yourself for good behavior
Changing your study habits while earning your degree online takes a lot of willpower. Knowing what gets you motivated can be a huge help—even if it’s something as simple as an extra night out with friends or a favorite candy bar. Promise yourself one small reward for every goal met for the night—five pages of research paper written, for example, or one hour of studying.
Avoid distracting people
Sometimes your best friends can also be your worst enemies. Study groups can be great for preparing for tests and getting through class, but they can also waste time if the group is more focused on socializing than studying. There’s nothing wrong with socializing—except when it impacts your grade. Be selective about who you study with, and be aware that sometimes great friends don’t make the best study partners.
Don’t try to do too many things at once
Some people believe they’re most effective when they’re multitasking. But academic research has shown this is generally not true. For example, in 2005, the BBC conducted a research study funded by Hewlett Packard and the University of London Institute of Psychiatry on multitasking. According to the study, people dealing with emails and phone calls in addition to work “suffered a fall in IQ more than twice that found in marijuana smokers*”. No matter how good you think you are at multitasking, you’d get even better results by studying without distractions.
College isn’t easy for anyone—but it gets considerably easier if you don’t have bad study habits holding you down. Monitor yourself carefully to discern what behaviors are harming your study time—if it isn’t already obvious. Be sure to eliminate distractions, by moving to a quieter and less populated place to study if necessary. Choose your study companions carefully—and be aware that close friends can sometimes make bad study partners. And develop a reward system for getting certain study tasks done—one that includes a small treat you can incorporate into study time. If you do, your study habits are likely to improve—along with your grades.
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