Midterm season is wrapping up which means that finals are right around the corner. Which for most of you means that the all day (and all night) study sessions are about to begin.
Have you ever fallen into a study session trap? Walking into your study session ready to get down to business but you end up leaving early or not getting everything you wanted to accomplished? This is quite possibly because you didn’t come prepared. Preparation is definitely the key to a successful study session. So read on about what I recommend bringing and get your backpack (and your mind) ready for your next study binge!
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No one can properly focus on an empty stomach. Bring easy snacks but not anything that needs warmed up or refrigerated. Also nothing that will be too messy, you may not have napkins/paper towels available.
Part of the importance of bringing snacks is that you won’t have to leave your studying for as long to get food. Taking a lunch or dinner break can help with mental clarity but taking a snack break and leaving your study spot for 30 mins every couple hours will slow you down and hinder you from getting into a good study pace.
Good snacks to bring include granola/protein bars and trail mix. Remember to bring your water bottle if your snack is salty.
I won’t pretend that I didn’t drink way too much espresso when I was in college (and still a little too much now… oops). And those drinks can help keep you awake and alert but in MODERATION. Too much caffeine and you can get jittery and it can over-correct you too much so you can’t focus.
I really liked bringing in pre-brewed ice tea (no access to hot water for hot tea). It was easier for me to control and monitor my caffeine intake through out my study sessions! I would even bring an extra water bottle filled with ice to put in the tea if it started to get too warm.
3) Prioritized to-do list
Going into a long study session without a game plan can lead to wasted time and forgetting to accomplish important tasks. Make a list before you even leave your house of what needs to get accomplished and then number the list starting with what absolutely needs to be accomplished down to things that could possible wait. It gives you a better idea of how long you need to commit to this study session as well as what you need to bring to study.
Also make sure that the to-do list is decently detailed. Don’t just list the class names- get specific and say “study chapters 1-3 chemistry text book notes”. This helps you make a better game plan before you start studying so you can stay in the study-grove and avoid spending time trying to figure out what to study next.
4) A phone Control App
Social media and games can suck away your time at the library before you even realize it! Seriously we all know how easy it is to open up Instagram for a “5 minute break” and the end up on it for hours. Also, it is so distracting to constantly be getting alerts that all feel obligated to check as soon as we feel the *buzz*. So unless you have super amazing self control then you probably need a little extra push to stay off of your phone – and thankfully it’s 2019 and there is apps to help with that.
My personal favorite is OFFTIME – away mobile which is so simple but gets the job done. You simply set the amount of time that you want to study without distraction for and hit start. Then if you try to pick up your phone it will start buzzing and if you try to hit stop before the time is up it “punishes” you with a long ad to watch. And I love that if you make it the whole time it gives you little encouraging messages.
5) Course materials
This seems obvious but it really can be easy to forget to bring everything. You may just think that you are studying from your class notes but then when a question comes along that you need your textbook to answer you will wish you had it! Hauling extra materials around campus doesn’t sound fun but you will thank yourself when you end up needing them.
A good list of course materials to make sure you have are:
-Class notes (digital and written)
When in doubt bring the material along. It is better to have it then to be left wondering “what was that formula the TA was talking about??” because you only brought lecture notes not any handouts from recitation.
6) Study supplies
Again, sounds obvious but I have been asked by others in the library for simple necessities like pens, highlighters, erasers, and post-it notes. Bring anything that you could possibly need. A good list to start with is:
-Pens and pencils (and lead if necessary), erasers
-Paper clips and binder clips
-Folder or binder to keep loose papers in
Block out ALL distractions. Having a table next to you that is loudly working on a project (or just messing around) can cause pretty serious distractions for you. And the best way to block people out is headphones. Turn up the music and tune them out. But make sure it’s music and not a TV show/Movie/YouTube etc because those will distract you even more than the people around you. Even if its just “re-runs” your brain has to split itself between focusing on what you’re working on and the show which slows down
**Note- make sure that you aren’t being the distracting one in the library! If you forgot your headphones then don’t be the person playing their music “quietly” because I promise it really isn’t as quiet as you think!
I am physically incapable of staying focused when I am cold. And unfortunately I tend to be the coldest in a room. Freshman year I would always bring a sweatshirt regardless of how warm it was outside, actually the warmer it was outside the colder it was in the library with the AC blasting- learned this the hard way! By my senior year I would bring a sweatshirt and a blanket because guys you are in college to learn and study so don’t give a second thoughts to anyone who might judge the blanket. I used to have people comment all the time on how they wish they had brought one!
On a similar note- wear comfortable clothes. Again, you’re here to study and learn so focus on being comfortable so you can study as much as possible!
9) Water bottle
Staying hydrated is just as important as staying caffeinated. And the best way to stay hydrated is to bring a water bottle from home rather than continuously buying from the vending machines or shops on campus (plus come on who wants to pay $5 for a little bottle of water?!). Most college libraries have water fountains available for you to fill your water bottle up for free.
**Tip: If you’re like me and like your water really cold then bring a large insulated water bottle filled with ice from home so you can have ice cold water for a couple of hours before it melts.
10) A study playlist
Music can really help you stay focused and avoid distractions… but it can also become a major distraction. I have so many friends that were really talented at coming up with study playlists that kept them focused. However, if you’re like me and aren’t really sure how to make a “study” playlist then have no fear, plenty of people have already done it on Spotify and made the lists public. All you have to do is search for study and hundreds of great options come up. Pick the ones that you like the best and save them to your library and bam you have a study playlist!
Anything not on this list that you always bring to a study session? Let me know in the comments!