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Ontario Tech acknowledges the lands and people of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

Learn more about Indigenous Education and Cultural Services

Making the Most of Your Study Sessions

February 20, 2024

So you’ve come to the conclusion that you’re going to be spending a large amount of your precious time studying. If you’re looking for a way to make that time a bit more enjoyable, read on for some of the strategies I use.

Make the most of your space

If your study space is a dim, flickering fluorescent light, with a chair that’s too short and a phone/game console that is a little too accessible, it’s no wonder you will have a hard time studying. I know it’s super tempting to cozy up right in front of your television with a new show playing as you hunker down to get through a subject that requires your focus, but it might be worth it to step back and reevaluate. I know this isn’t what you came to hear, but in my experience, where you study can make or break the quality of your studying. I like to have two study spaces: one that’s close and one that’s farther. My “close” space is in the living room with my school bag at my side so that everything I need is readily accessible. This is perfect for quick bursts of studying like when you’re going through some flashcards or a short problem set. The “farther” space I use is none other than Ontario Tech’s library in a noise-controlled zone. I’m up there a few times a week typing up notes for asynchronous classes, reviewing larger chunks of content, and working through tough concepts. This works well if you know in advance that you’re going to have trouble concentrating, you’re not motivated, or you have a lot to do. The quiet atmosphere surrounded by focused students and rows of books makes it the perfect place to spend a few hours chipping away at your work.

Focus on what you can control

Maybe you commute (been there), work, simultaneously manage a disability, or you have family to support, and you don’t have many options on where you choose to study. That’s alright! It’s important to recognize that we have lives outside our academics because they shape when, where, and how we learn.

  • Look at your space. Can you add a small table lamp for better lighting? Maybe a cheap or DIY coaster for a drink? Adding personal touches to your space makes it feel nicer and more enjoyable to work in.
  • It might be worth it to take five minutes before you start each session to run through a mental checklist of everything you need for your subject: pen, pencil, eraser, calculator, computer, charger, etc. so you don’t need to get up five minutes in and break your focus.
  • A clear space is good for a clear mind. Ensuring that your space is tidy means that your space is also functional, and you’re not spending too much time looking for odds and ends, thus reducing your studying time. If you’re struggling to clear your space, consider keeping disinfectant wipes in a visible area to encourage use. Dollarama also has a wide assortment of organizational bins and small trash cans. Look at your space, and think of small steps you can take to make that space more functional for you.

Look at your habits

Sometimes the things that hinder us can go unnoticed until we stop and reflect on our progress. Consider taking a moment to think about your last study session, and what you most struggled with. Is there a way you could alter your habits and your space to maximize your productivity? Below is a list of some examples. Feel free to get creative in how this looks for you.

  • If noise is an issue, consider choosing a calming lo-fi soundtrack, classical music, or binaural beats to listen to as you study. The lack of lyrics makes it easier to focus on your work. Depending on how loud you play it, it ensures that, if need be, you can hear the people around you.
  • If you find your mind wandering off or stuck on another train of thought, consider using your upcoming study break to write out what’s on your mind. You could also keep a notebook or sticky notes by your desk as you study so you don’t interrupt your workflow to follow that secondary train of thought. If this is a pattern for you, a journaling practice might be beneficial.
  • If you are having recurring headaches, consider ensuring you are well-hydrated and are taking enough breaks. Occasionally, I’ll study with sunglasses which lessens the effect of bright lights.

Choose something to look forward to

It’s no secret that the things we focus on influence how we view them. If studying is boring or unmotivating for you, try to choose one thing that you enjoy about the act of studying, and hone in on that. Neurons that fire together wire together. By focusing on what parts of studying you enjoy the most, you’re more likely to associate those positive feelings with your next study session. If there’s nothing you can think of, try some of the following:

  • You’ve probably already heard of this one, but try keeping a container of gum next to your desk and pop one each time you study; and if you take it before your test, it increases your ability to recall information
  • If gum isn’t your thing, how about a cup of tea or another drink? A hot or cool drink is helpful to keep you in the present moment rather than zoning out about the hundred other things you could be doing.
  • This one is good for hobbies that won’t suck you in for four hours wondering where your night went: Instead of spending your study breaks scrolling on your phone, try doodling, reading a “just for fun” book, or playing an instrument.

My best advice is to implement these tips one at a time. Trying to do everything at once can be overwhelming, so if you choose even one or two of these tips for your next study session, consider it a win. In any case, take what works for you and leave what doesn’t. You know yourself better than a blog post does. Hopefully, these tips can help you the next time you find yourself unmotivated to study, or in need of a small pick-me-up.

Happy studying everyone! That's going to be you if you follow these tips (hopefully!)

By Morgan Zolkiewski