It is a lot to master ideas/information and to manage the steps needed to learn it well. So it’s understandable that you may feel stress, as you juggle being mindful of the content, studying with efficiency, and recognizing your feelings as you confront your load.
You can learn to shoulder all of it with time and practice. Remember, there is a difference between mastering content and mastering how to study. The latter is reliant upon executive functions and metacognition. The brain starts to develop networks for executive functions when we are preschoolers focused on swings (not science terms!), but every time we flex these mental muscles, we strengthen the neural pathways that make organizing tasks a more natural part of our behavior. It all matures as the last parts of the brain develop, so while that’s happening, get a jump on things by creating your own systems that promote organization and self-management skills.
Remember our first post, on listing all of your subjects, sub-sections, units, etc., so that you have all the study “chunks” and their allotted times in one place? Let’s parse that list further and set up some routines—personalized systems—through which you can approach studying in a way that makes it more pleasant for you.
For example, say you have 4 chapters to review in your science textbook. You’ve allotted an hour to do this, but even that feels demotivating. Now break that hour, or 4 chapters, up and attach each sub-chunk to some small reward, like one of these:
- After each reviewed chapter, or every 15 minutes, take a bite of a snack (precut into 4 equal parts) or take a 5-minute social media break.
- Insert Post-it Notes at the start of each chapter, and then crumple-toss-them-on-the-floor as you make your way through the review.
- Get together with study buddies so that you can motivate one another and enjoy your breaks and well-earned rewards with your pals.
Try one or more of these strategies, or devise your own motivation system, and post a comment to let us know how it went and to share your experience with others.
In our next post, we will talk about the powerful role metacognition plays in accomplishing seemingly tough tasks and how to use your language skills to boost it.