1. Use the library or an academic study space.
Libraries are designed for learning. Entering a library is a signal to your body to quiet the mind and get to work. And everyone is in there for the same reason. Cafes are great for meetings or discussions with other students, but there are too many distractions from serious, intensive study.
2. Make a weekly to-do list of important tasks and assignments that you need to complete.
Be sure to prioritize the list in terms of difficulty and also try to assess how long each task will take (it’s usually a good idea to overestimate this.) Refer back to the list throughout the week to make sure you’re on track.
3. Work on the difficult (or boring) subjects first.
If your history readings put you to sleep, do them first while you have energy. Students sometimes put off the subjects they don’t like, but this makes comprehension more difficult simply because you’re tired or burned out.
4. Avoid overly long study sessions.
When possible, study in shorter sessions. Two to three hour sessions are optimal for most students. And take short breaks while you’re doing it. Get away from your books or the computer for five to ten minutes. Go out for a short walk. A 2011 study published in the journal Cognition found that brief mental breaks helped participants stay focused on tasks longer.
5. Use a study area with no distractions (and that isn’t too comfortable!)
Interruptions lead to poorer quality work and can cause you to take longer to finish the task. Turn off your smartphone, email, and social media alerts, and your productivity will improve. Furthermore, an overly comfortable study space can make you sleepy and unable to concentrate. You’re more likely to doze off than finish the assignment.