Studying Is Not a Prison Sentence
Oct 16, 2011 Study Skills 2060 Views
Why does studying feel like a prison sentence?
Common phrases like 'no pain, no gain' give the impression that we ought to be suffering whilst we study. It's almost as though the only way to know if we're putting in enough work is the sense of hardship we endure.
When we haven't taken the time to come up with another strategy, all we know how to do is shut ourselves in a room with a book. It's no surprise that we find revision boring and difficult. Just as children learn from playing, we can learn from doing, or at least from study techniques that engage us, rather than make us switch off.
The consequence of isolation
Shutting yourself away can make you learn to hate studying. This leads to a situation where instead of being able to concentrate on your work, you obsess about how unfair it is that you must study.
When you resent your work it's very difficult to make yourself start, or approach it with any kind of structure or enthusiasm. This can be part of a vicious cycle that traps you into ineffective revision, your poor progress fuelling further resentment.
Just being around other people really helps combat feelings of loneliness and, thankfully, it's perfectly possible to work in the company of other people, we just need to learn how to deal with distractions.
Coping with distractions
It's not necessary to avoid all company, just idle company. Studying in the same room as someone who is ironing or working out is perfectly possible. People who are bored and looking to be distracted, however, are terrible to work around. They constantly try to engage others in conversation.
It's also a good idea to avoid the company of people engaged in activities that you would rather be doing than studying. Working whilst sat next to someone playing video games is much more likely to end with a new high score than a productive few hours of revision.
If being around others means working in a noisy environment, a pair of earbud style headphones and some background music can block out even noisy children. They also act as a psychological barrier, so that people think twice before interrupting you.
Plan some time to connect with other people
When you're in the middle of studying for a big exam, it can seem like your whole life is taken up with study. Being in the same room as friends and family can lessen feelings of isolation, but genuinely connecting with other people makes us happy, so it's important not to give that up and to make sure that we take the time to socialise.
Working directly with other students
One of the reasons that we tend to study alone is simply because we don't know how to get the best out of working with other students.
A great way to take advantage of having a study partner is to use each other as tutors. Taking note of the particular types of problem that you're having before meeting up allows you to ask your partner to walk you through solving some practise questions (this works better with something you struggle to understand, or apply, rather than a feat of pure memorisation).
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