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Time management is key when earning your degree outside of the traditional classroom

If you’re pursuing your degree outside of a traditional classroom, managing your time wisely will mean the difference in succeeding or not. While you may not have the distractions of a campus, you’ll also be missing out on the academic environment a traditional institution fosters. Luckily, these tips will help you hone your study skills, manage your valuable time, and recreate the prime environment to study more effectively.

 

1. Remember the 50/10 Rule
Cramming has its uses, but genuinely learning information and gaining knowledge requires a more skillful approach to absorbing your studies. If you find yourself unable to concentrate on long-term studies hours at a time, try the 50/10 method. Study diligently and intently for 50 minutes including required reading and study questions, then reward your brain with a 10 minute break. Breaking your studies into chunks gives your short-term memory a chance to compute into the long-term side as you focus on one area specifically instead of cramming and running everything together into one blur. It also gives your brain a chance to cool down and re-gear for the next chunk of data. Of course this will vary by individual, find the optimal ratio that works best for you or try splitting your work into short goals. “I’ll finish this chapter and do 5 study questions and reward myself with a Nutella bite with toast.”

2.      Where you study matters
Where you study can have an effect on how you study. Studying in the comfort of your own home is great, but it may not be the best place for everyone. The quiet ambiance and removal of personal distractions of a public library can allow you to focus more on what you’re studying.

3.      How you take notes makes a difference
Want your information to really sink in? Try not typing your notes. Typing your notes can be advantageous because of increased legibility, but writing your notes out by hand leaves a more permanent impression in your mind. When you type you are just pressing keys on a keyboard, but when you write, you are writing out the words and concepts you need to remember. It may take longer to hand-write notes, but the pay-off is a better memory. If you’re strapped for time, find a happy balance between writing and typing that works for you.

4.      Friends who stay together get passing grades together
When possible, study in a group. Studying in groups can be beneficial. It allows the bouncing of ideas among peers in a stress less environment. We tend to remember what our peers tell us more than what we read, so when we study with our peers, we remember better. Additionally, being in an environment where you have to explain/teach the material to a peer further reinforces your knowledge of the material.

5.      Removing interference
If you set aside time for studying, don’t leave Facebook open in the background. The notifications can wait. In fact, avoid using any social media when you study because a quick break can turn into hours of lost study time. Your ideal study habitat should be quiet, a place you enjoy, with miniam auditory and visual distractions. Non-verbal relaxing music can make your space more enjoyable without distracting.

6.      What time you study can set you up for success
Try studying in the morning. Even if you’re tired, your mind is more active in the morning. Studying in the morning allows you to remember things easier. Imagine if you had to go for a run, would you have more energy after waking up, or before you sleep? The mind is no different, so be sure to pick up those books after waking up, not just at night.

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