5 Do’s and 5 Don’ts for Effective Studying

Want to do better in school? Who doesn’t!? Although an exhaustive list of ideas would be, well, exhausting, here are 10 ideas, 5 good and 5 bad, you can use for your foundation for effective studying.


1. DO: Set dedicated times for more effective studying.

Schedule your days to include specific times for studying. Yes, it’s easy to fall into social traps, but your retention of what happened in class will be far higher if you recap each day. If you’re using CaptureNotes or CaptureAudio, your review effort will be easier 🙂

2. DO: Put your phone away.

If you want to learn, you need to focus. Unless you’re using your phone for timing with Pomodoros or listening to your CaptureAudio notes, put it away to avoid all the distractions when you’re studying. Dedicated study time will help your studies far more than texting about that girl in Economics.

3. DO: Keep a comprehensive Calendar and To Do List.

Manage your tasks & update your calendar as assignments arrive, not at the last minute. During your dedicated times for studying, see how you can progress with immediate and longer term tasks, with an eye toward due dates.

4. DO: Find study buddies.

Adding a bit of peer pressure from a friend to keep your studying schedule can help make sure you stick to the plan. Being able to share notes or discuss projects (as long as it is school-related) helps concentrate the effort.

5. DO: Reward yourself for effective studying.

If you stick to your plan, you’ll feel good for doing so (hello, intrinsic reward), but you may also reward yourself (pizza with friends, new jeans, a full day off to recover). A reward (this is called an extrinsic reward) can further propel your enjoyment of your studying schedule.


1. DON’T: Study in noisy environments. Find peace and quiet or use headphones.

The coffee shop may be fun (and caffeine is nice), but it’s noisy. Your brain has to work harder to filter out the extraneous sounds while you’re studying, so minimize them.

2. DON’T: Have television and online media (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, etc.) in the background.

Task switching is bad! When your brain shifts from one cognitive function to something completely different, it takes you a while to ramp up to the new task. Then it takes you a while to get back and remember where you were when you resume the original task. When studying, just study – it maximizes the investment.

3. DON’T: Procrastinate.

Time management is your ally – studying and working on assignments during the regular course of your days will pay dividends: less stress, better scores and higher productivity.

4. DON’T: Underestimate the power of routine.

Setting a routine and sticking to it helps build important lifetime habits. Establishing regular patterns to your day reduces stress. You may work out, shower, have breakfast, go to class, have lunch, then study. Whatever activity rituals suit your taste, make sure you develop consistency with them. Bake your studying plan into the cake.

5. DON’T: Pull all-nighters.

Cramming for mid-terms or at the end of the semester is essentially re-learning. If you reviewed along the way, you won’t feel so much last minute pressure. Get the rest you need instead so your brain functions better.

Hopefully these ideas will be useful to build a strong foundation for effective studying. Keep the framework simple and consistent, and watch the good results!


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