You want to get good grades in college, land a killer job, and enjoy life in the process? There’s a blueprint for getting it done.
The truth about the road to higher learning is that it’s filled with distractions. Roommates, activities, clubs, coeds, tailgaters, and classes all vie for your attention. Throw in the fact that you’re now living on your own without the structure of a home environment. College is a time management hot zone.
The secret to having effective study skills?
Manage your distractions.
Manage your distractions and you will get more done. You will follow-through on your priorities. You will be more productive in your reading, studying and projects. Furthermore, you’ll have more time to experience all the fun that college has to offer (the aforementioned activities, clubs, and coeds).
Use the following guidelines for managing college distractions:
Create your environment
Having a distraction-free workspace is vital to your success. Reduce sound elements as much as possible, but remember that too quiet is uncomfortable as well. Try creating “white sound” with some low level music. Also, eliminate your visual distractions by closing window shades and moving attention-stealing objects from your immediate line of sight.
Close the door
Shut out your distractions both literally and figuratively. Keeping your door closed will discourage casual passers-by from dropping in, but it’s not 100 percent effective. You must also make a mental commitment to say “no” to any drop-ins.
Free yourself from any bit of technology that doesn’t serve your immediate needs. This means shutting off your cell phone, switching off the TV, and if you don’t need Wi-Fi don’t connect.
When the distractions of roommates, video games, and the refrigerator become too daunting, choose a go-to place where you feel you can work. Find a coffee shop, a corner table in the library, even a park bench — wherever you can achieve productive solitude.
Schedule your work in segments, or boxes, of time in your day planner (e.g. “study chemistry 6:00-6:30 p.m.”). These time commitments help you stay focused on-task, avoid procrastination, and they tell you when it’s time to move on to something else. Use a kitchen egg timer for an easy reminder.
Assign a memo
When a wayward thought enters your head, write a memo in your day planner for later. It’s as simple as “Note to self: walk the dog later.” This gets the distraction out of your head and down on paper. Knowing that you’ll follow-up later will declutter your brain and keep you on-task.
When online study and research is required, set hard and fast rules about what is acceptable during this task time. This means no email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or any other web surfing is permitted during this time. Don’t cheat, a few minutes of surfing add up in a hurry.
Allow for break time
Reward yourself for having good study habits with break time. This is when you can allow for some guilt-free distraction time. Balance in your life is healthy. Just make sure you are setting limits to your recess and sticking to them.
Managing your distractions in college is pretty much your first true test of how you will handle life in the “real world.” Improving your study skills now will create stronger study habits, which will ultimately lead to better grades, a great job, and whatever else you consider success in life.
What do you think? Do you have any productivity tips for college students? Please comment or join the conversation on Facebook.
Day-Timer Spokesperson Jeff Doubek can be reached at [email protected].
[ student photo by kcolwell ]