Does this sound like you? You work as a freelancer and study at the same time. So, you go to class and listen carefully, writing notes on everything that the professor says. When it is time to do homework, you feel like you are reading another language. Still, you shove your head in the book and repeat the information over and over. You turn off the music and lock your roommate out. You have to focus.
Then you sit down on test day and stare at that test like you have never seen it before. You try to remember, but at best you may catch a shadow of a fact you committed to memory. You do not finish on time, and you are sure your GPA just dropped, again.
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Traditional “study tips” do not work for everyone
You have probably been told the same thing most of your life. Don’t put things off. Jump in and do your hardest assignment first. Just as you do when tackling work tasks, you know the hard ones require most energy. Thus, they need to be handled first.
Make sure there are no distractions or noise in your study area. The problem is, some of are just not wired that way. Some of us have trouble keeping page after page of facts. Some of us could lock ourselves in an empty room to keep distractions away, and we would find ourselves mesmerized with the dust particles dancing on a sunbeam. No distractions, no noise, and no procrastination is not your method. So, you have to find some that are.
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As a freelancer, you probably invested well into your computer. It probably has a high-speed connection, a huge amount of memory, and the best processor they made that week. It came with all kinds of interesting tools. You downloaded your favorite screensaver, found a couple of games for when you are bored (with (home)work), and bookmarked YouTube. You do use the tools to check your credit card balance or to look up concert ticket prices.
Take a few minutes and set-up a file system to manage your workload.
Take the time to add your favorite study, and research addresses and add them to your bookmarks. Figure out how to make the clock remind you of deadlines and appointments. Declutter your desktop on your computer and then on your actual desk. You will save time every time you sit down to work.
Switch up study places
Switch up your study places. Choose a few places that are easy for you to work from. Some people actually study better with background noise. This explains the popularity of studying at the coffee shop. For you, this may be how to focus on homework. Silence may make your mind wonder. If soft music in the background helps, go for it. Some people simply turn on a fan. The hum of the fan is enough to allow them to work undistracted.
Examine your habits and change them
We are creatures of habit. To break the cycle, you have to know what distracts you and find a solution before you begin.
For example, if you are a nervous eater and the minute your homework comes out of your backpack, you are craving a pizza. Deal with that. You have created a habit that will always distract you. Instead, order a pizza and eat your fill at least 15 minutes before you sit down to do homework.
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Turn off your phone. Our phones are the hardest distractions to break. We are continually checking messages, email, and social media. You will not die if your phone is turned off for a couple of hours. If you conquer this one habit, you are making great progress. Set up your email with an auto-reply, “Unavailable until 10:00 PM, will get back to you then.”
You can control this issue and learn a new way to study and get the most out of your time.