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Staying on Top of the Game: Effective Study and Self-Discipline Techniques

Studying is not everybody’s cup of tea, nor our idea of a good time; but is an essential part of being a student, and something that must be done in order to do well and excel in your degree and field. Lack of motivation is often cited as a major factor in avoiding study and procrastination, something which everybody is impacted by from time to time – but, utilising study techniques and tools to increase your discipline and self-control will allow motivation to naturally flow from the feeling of success. By utilising some of these methods below, you can boost your discipline, and get ahead of the game!

Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is a self-discipline and time-management technique that has garnered much attention in recent years. In its most basic explanation, the Pomodoro Technique is to split study into intervals of 25 minutes of studying, and 5 minutes of a break – this 30 minute period is referred to as a ‘pomodoro’, and your aim is to gather as many pomodoros in a day (or study session) as possible. This 25-minute period gives a sense of rush of a deadline and encourages students to be as effective as possible with their time. At the end of the 25-minute period, drop your pen and immediately take a break to clear your mind. This method has proven invaluable for many students online, who have commented that it has crushed their habit of procrastination, and rewires your mind to think that you do not have a huge day of studying ahead of you, but rather just a number of 25-minute periods that are broken up. This also has the added effect of that when you are in ‘the zone’, you can switch off your timer and let your mind naturally flow – the first steps of study discipline, without the urge to check your phone, or check Instagram.

The Pomodoro Technique can be used very easily by way of an application, such as Be Focused for iPhone and Macs, Engross for Android, or PowerPom for PC. These apps are a great way to track your study techniques and sessions (if you love data) or can easily just be done using an interval timer.

Anki Flashcards

For those who enjoy making flashcards and study cards, Anki is an absolutely invaluable resource, and is an application which has garnered much attention online and suggested by many universities, as it takes flashcards to the next level. Anki allows users to create their own flashcards, with an excellent and easy-to-use organisation system.encourages users to create quizzes and questions from their study cards, which Anki will randomise and adjust in order to test you in ways you may have not normally tested yourself.

Anki works by utilising active recall, and by testing users on their material. The core of Anki is an advanced algorithm, developed by ex-neuroscientists, to save you time. As you study, it learns how well you know each flashcard, then prioritises them for you, so you study the things you don't know, without wasting precious time on the things you already do.

Anki is a free application for most devices, but the most advanced and useful version being on Mac and PC, which allows users to access all the features in which it was initially intended.

Self-control Applications

Self control applications are, as the name suggests, applications which can be used to limit the amount of distractions that may pop up during your intended study period. Some apps may work by allowing you to build towards a goal to avoid distractions, or by physically blocking website accessibility in order to stop you quickly checking Facebook when you are meant to be watching a lecture. By using one or a combination of these, you can increase your self-discipline in order to instil good study practices and improve your motivation.

Self-Control is an incredibly useful application that can be used on a system-wide level on Mac and PC, as well as browser-specific via extensions. It allows a user to block a list of websites for a certain period of time. Once the timer has been started, these websites cannot be accessed – regardless of shutdowns, restarts or app-closing – therefore it is a very quick way to become disciplined.

Forest is a brilliant application, both visually and in practice, for all devices and browsers.It allows users to build their own forest, one tree at a time per period of ‘non-distraction’. If, during your study time, you close the application on your phone, or access a website that you have flagged – you instantly lose your progress and therefore your tree. This is a great app as it creates a feeling of addiction to build the biggest forest you can, and works very similar to that of the Pomodoro Technique, but allows users to take their own breaks, and is especially useful for people who have a habit of quickly checking Instagram or Snapchat during a lecture or whilst reading.

Mindful Browsing is an essential plug-in/extension for most internet browsers that gently encourage the user to get back to work when accessing websites that are deemed as ‘distracting’. Although they are not as hard on the user as Self-Control or Forest; it does gently remind the person to get back to their task by making you feel bad for quickly checking Facebook when you should be reading!

Utilise these methods and techniques in order to improve your self-discipline and control, and to stay on top of the game during busy and stressful periods, or just in order to give yourself the boost needed to grasp that one difficult subject.

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