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Six Tips for Self-Study That's Productive and Effective

Self study

December 21 2021 - The ongoing coronavirus pandemic hit a personal and societal reset button in the United States. The vast changes wrought by the pandemic caused many to re-evaluate their relationship with their work, with around 50% looking for a change in career. Naturally, those seeking new career paths may need to make use of their time to earn new certifications and practice new skills.

Self study is a key piece of the puzzle for any seeking new certifications or degrees. Not sure how you can make your study time as productive as possible? Never fear! Our handy guide will show you six tips you can use to ensure that you get the most out of studying alone.

1. Take Notes By Hand to Engrave Them Into Memory

When you study at home, you're more than likely doing your study and work from a computer. If so, it's easy to think that the notes you type in your Notepad or Word document will be enough to win the day. However, researchers have discovered that writing your notes by hand increases your brain activity and makes it more likely that you will remember what you wrote down.

Why is this? Well, in physically committing the notes to the paper, you engage both the motor and linguistic centers of the brain, which increases your chances of remembering what you wrote. Physical note-taking might seem like a relic of a bygone era, but if you incorporate it into your self study, you'll be surprised with how much you remember.

2. Don't Multitask- Monotask and Juggle, Instead

Researcher after researcher has come out in recent years decrying multitasking. Trying to focus on several tasks at once means not giving any of them the time and focus that they need. To say nothing of those with ADHD, who cannot focus on multiple tasks at once.

Rather than trying to tackle multiple tasks at once, your self study sessions should focus on one singular task. However, you shouldn't focus on one the entire day. Instead, you should remain focused on a single subject for a dedicated period (monotask), then swap to a different subject when that time is up. (That is to say, you should juggle the subjects.)

3. Give Yourself a Breather

Study time and self discipline are important when you're honing your skills on your own time. However, if all you do is study and cram, you won't retain any of the knowledge you spent so long trying to gain.

Think back to your high school or college years. How well did you actually retain any of the knowledge you gained when you spent the whole night before an exam cramming? Exactly.

That's why it's important to schedule breaks into your study time. You can use Pomodoro timers or other similar tools to give yourself dedicated study and break times. And when you take a break, don't go to watch TV- stand up, walk around for a moment, stretch, breathe. If you get moving and incorporate a bit of exercise, it will help your memory as well.

4. Set Your Environment for Success

Your ability to self study effectively relies on how well your environment works for you. Self discipline is certainly a part of this, but in our era of constant distractions, it's important to set your studying environment up to support you. Some things you can do to help your environment work for (rather than against) you include:

  • Studying at a set scheduled period
  • Studying from a desk, not the couch or a bed
  • Reducing outside noise and distractions
  • Put away the studying tools when you're done

If you take these steps, you can ensure both that your self study is constructive and that it doesn't take over your entire life. As mentioned above, breaks are as important as the study period itself.

4. Vary Your Learning Sources

It's easy for your eyes to glaze over when the only thing you're looking at is the same old boring textbooks or ebooks. If you want to avoid boring yourself to tears during your self study time, you should vary your learning sources.

If the textbooks bore you, consider looking up videos on the subject. If you learn better through listening, find podcasts or audiobooks on the subject. If you learn better through doing, consider game-ifying your study time, or else finding a practical test for what you've learned.

Study time doesn't have to be staring at books until you keel over. Don't let it be.

5. Get Accountability Buddies

This might seem counter-intuitive in an article about self study. However, as those who have embarked on a weight loss journey know all too well, there is no substitute for accountability. You're more likely to cheat your study time if you're working on your own.

Let's say, for example, that you're doing an NPTE prep course to start a career as a physical therapist. If you study by yourself, without any oversight or input, you may struggle when the time comes for your exam. If you find a study group or mentor, however, you're more likely to succeed.

6. This Will Be on the Test

The last thing you should do when you study at home is set up mini-exams for yourself. Don't rely on your memory to carry you through on the day of the final test if you've never tested its abilities before then. Quiz yourself on what you've learned throughout your self study session. This will improve your working memory when the time comes.

Looking for More Self Study Tips?

Self study is a key piece of learning a new skill. While the tips we've given above can help you make your time studying at home more productive, there's more you can do to hone your self discipline and study skills. If you want to learn more, then check out our website for more helpful and informative articles like this one!

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