Studying Hacks 101: Smarter not harder

Suhaani Malik, Class 10, Chatrabhuj Narsee School, Mumbai

I moved to class 10 four months ago and I have already been swamped with a million and one tasks. At times, finding the perfect balance between studying, revision, notes, extracurriculars, hobbies, exercise and free time is horribly overwhelming. It’s easy for everyone around to tell us what to do, but it is much harder to actually go through with it. Sometimes even the professionals don’t have it together, so how can anyone expect so much from mere teenagers?

While all of this is true, eventually we do have to embrace the reality and take every task in stride. There’s nothing that toppers do that you can’t; and if you feel the enormous pressure of handling everything single-handedly, here are some hacks that may help you work around the stress, all while getting your work done!

Make a Schedule

Making a schedule is literally the first and most important step to getting everything under control. Plan your day minute-by-minute, including breaks and relaxation time. Being a teenager brings about so many mood swings that you don’t always feel like sticking to one schedule, so instead of making one, spend five extra minutes and try making three schedules.

  • A low-energy schedule: in case you don’t feel up to it, but you still have to study a little.
  • An everyday schedule: where you just do what’s absolutely required that day.
  • A high-energy schedule: for those random bursts of productiveness!

Notes for Everything

Make small pointers or notes for every chapter you complete from all the presentations, textbooks or sources that you study from. Before your exam, you just need to refer to these notes. You could make printed notes or flashcards or tiny postit booklets! This makes revision so much easier.

The 45-15 Rule

The one major issue we all face is time management. 24 hours don’t seem enough and once again, anxiety hits full force. So instead of making your schedule seem like too much or too little, use the 45-15 rule.

  • 45 minutes study
  • 15 minutes break

Using this every hour for at least four hours makes things more organised, gets work done quickly and instils a sense of accomplishment too. It also gives you time to de-stress before you’re at it again.

Colour It Up

Many people don’t like studying because you’re always told to write with a blue or black pen or a pencil. So instead, use colours! Make use of colourful gel or ball pens and sticky notes of different sizes, shapes and hues. It not only makes studying more fun, but it is scientifically proven to increase the attention span too. Use arrows, clouds, stick figures, creative bullet points and assorted highlighters to help you highlight the important things.

Study With YOU…Literally!

By ‘literally’ I mean record yourself while studying—either in time-lapse or a simple video or even logging onto Zoom just with yourself and recording the meeting. Having the feeling of being recorded remains in your subconscious and this helps you focus, making you more productive. Explain everything you understand from whatever you have learnt, as if you’re the teacher teaching yourself.

Lists, Lists and Lists

When our tasks keep adding up, we tend to get overburdened and swamped with the truckload of things we need to complete. In times like these, make a list. Write down every task that needs to be completed with due dates, as being organised brings calmness to the mind. As you go along doing each task, cross it out. Again, the simple act of cutting down each task and finishing a list gives a feeling of pure satisfaction and attainment, which in turn reduces stress. You could also use an organising app such as Todoist, Things or TickTick.

Add a Little Music

Play music in the background every time you try to study. Over time, listening to music helps you learn how to multi-task. It helps you to adapt to conditions that will allow you to study even when there is noise and interruption.

Here are some sites that will help you:

  • To increase your confidence and typing speed:
  • To enhance the quality of an essay:
  • If you need to relieve a headache or anxiety instantly: white-noise

REFLECTION: What Are Your Studying Hacks?

What methods do you follow to ensure you remember what you learn in school? List any 3.

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