High school students are notorious for staying up late and burning the midnight oil, especially when they’ve got an exam to study for or a project deadline looming.
But findings in neuroscience suggest that missing sleep comes with a cost, and that cost increases as you age. Sleep deprivation has been shown to play havoc with your brain, your metabolism, and your overall biochemistry.
If you’re going to college as an adult, you’ll soon discover that all night cram sessions don’t pay off the way they did when you were in high school. You may struggle to remember key concepts or to muster the energy needed to fully participate in your activities.
Clearly, you need to find another way to get your studying done if you want to succeed.
Finding time to study may feel like a daunting task, especially if you have multiple demands on your time. But if you follow the shortcuts I outline below, you will find you have time for not only your studying, but all the other important activities in your life as well.
The two shortcuts
1. Take control of your time.
Whether or not you are a student, you likely have numerous demands on your time every day. Taking control of your time can help you to feel that you are living a life of purpose as you accomplish the things each day that you set out to do.
Here are several steps you can follow to take control of your time:
Use a calendar.
First, use a calendar to schedule everything you need to do each day. Don’t leave anything out. Schedule your shower, your workout, each meal (including time for meal prep), your appointments, and your study time.
Don’t forget to schedule time to be with friends and loved ones as well. Be specific about how you intend to spend your time, and be comprehensive so that nothing gets left out.
And be sure to schedule enough time to get all the sleep your body needs.
If you find your day is getting away from you and you aren’t getting to everything you’ve scheduled, try spending a few days tracking what you are doing. Every 15 minutes, stop and write down how you are spending your time.
Keeping track of your time in this way will help you to see whether there are hidden forces sabotaging your efforts to take control of your time. You can use EFT to help you to eliminate the time-sucking self-sabotaging behaviors from your life.
Scheduling your time can help you take control of your life. It can also help you get to everything you feel is important.
But if you don’t schedule your time wisely, you’re sure to experience frustration, and even failure.
Scheduling your time wisely means knowing which tasks are open-ended and thus not likely to be completed in a single time slot, and which activities are time-consistent.
For instance, all of the activities that make up my morning routine are time consistent. I know that each morning I need 30 minutes to meditate, and another 5-10 minutes to write down any thoughts that come up during my meditation.
I also know I need one hour to complete my morning workout. And I know that after working out, I’ll need about 40 minutes to shower and dress, and another 20 minutes for breakfast.
So now I no longer write out all these details on my calendar. Instead, if I have a 9:00 a.m. appointment, I know I need to be out of bed no later than 6:30 so that I can complete my morning routine.
But other tasks are harder to schedule, like writing these newsletters. That’s because I’m never sure how long they are going to take for me to complete. These kinds of tasks might require research (or review of previous research), as well as time to get my creativity flowing, which I usually do by sitting down and freewriting about the topic I plan to develop.
If I try to constrain the time I spend on creative tasks, I usually end up feeling stuck.
For me, unlocking my creativity is a lot like siphoning water out of a fish tank. At first the water just dribbles out. But eventually it begins to flow.
That’s why I try to schedule large blocks of time for creative tasks.
And on days that I have a lot to accomplish, I make sure that my time for creative tasks is followed by things that can easily be rescheduled, like walking the dog or going to the grocery store. That way, if I find my creativity is flowing, I won’t have to disrupt it.
Remember this when scheduling time to complete creative tasks. Not giving yourself enough time to get into the flow state may leave you feeling frustrated and wanting to give up.
Make your calendar your friend.
Check your calendar at least twice each day, once when you wake up to remind yourself of what you are going to be doing, and once before you go to bed at night, to allow your subconscious to help you prepare for the following day.
The other way to make sure you are getting the most out of your studies is to
2. Take control of your learning.
Imagine that your brain is like a gigantic spider web. Spiders build their webs by attaching new strands of silk to existing strands.
You brain works in much the same way. New information can only be retained if it attaches to information that already exists in your brain.
Here are some steps you can take to make sure that the new information you are learning in school firmly attaches to the information that already exists in your brain.
Get in the habit of discussing what you learn every day.
Take the time to discuss what you learned in class with your professor or your classmates as soon as class is over. Then, the next time you are meeting with someone, anyone, tell them what you are learning. Ask for their input. Try to make connections between what you’ve learned in class and some other area of your life. These connections are going to help you to remember.
Ask questions in class.
Asking questions is a great way to build connections between new information that you are trying to absorb and knowledge that you already have. When you ask questions, you are building links that will help you to retain your new knowledge.
Ask questions about your reading.
Before you begin a reading assignment, make a list of questions that you would like the assignment to answer. If you are doing research for a project, get a clear idea of the questions you want the reading to answer before you begin.
As you read, make connections between what you are learning and what you already know. These connections can be in the form of a statement, but they can also be questions that you would like further research to answer.
And be sure to discuss what you are reading with your friends, classmates, professors, colleagues, family.
Keep a notebook with you at all times.
Use your notebook to write down any thoughts, insights, or questions that occur to you as you are reading or gathering information. A voice recorder can work just as well, if you find taking the time to write is too cumbersome.
Bring your questions with you to class every day.
When you ask questions at the beginning of class, you are insuring that the time you spend in class is time that is well spent. That’s because your questions come from the information that already exists in your brain. By posing your questions, you are making sure that any material you are meant to learn will be presented in a way that you will be able to remember, because that material will be presented as an answer to the question you asked.
Keep a learning journal.
Use your journal to reflect on everything you are learning in school. Write about how what you are learning makes you feel. Write about how the information you are absorbing helps you to better understand yourself, the world in which you live, and your place in that world. Schedule time to write in your journal every day. You’ll be amazed at how recording your thoughts and ideas helps you to retain information and makes that information easier to recall when it comes time to take an exam or to write an essay or term paper.
These two strategies will help you to make the most of your very limited time. They will add meaning not only to your educational experience, but your entire life.
If any of these suggestions are difficult to follow—if you resist taking action—try completing a few rounds of EFT, focusing on your inability to act. Then read this article again to see if it isn’t easier for you to take the steps I suggest for taking control of your success.
If you have any questions about how to use EFT to overcome your resistance to taking control of your life, be sure to leave them in the space below.