We sat down for a Q&A with The Habit Society to learn how to maximize good study habits and reduce bad ones. Our takeaway? You can form good study habits in less than 5 minutes. Which means by the time you're done reading this blog post, you'll have already mastered "The Pomodoro" and other saucy study techniques!
Q: Tell us about The Habit Society
A: The Habit Society is the 3-minute newsletter on how to master your habits, sent to your inbox every Monday. We curate information from credible experts in various fields to bring people practical information and realistic implementation methods.
We’ve all been in the situation where we set out to make a lifestyle change, but our motivation dries out much quicker than expected. Relying on motivation alone is ineffective. We researched the best ways to actually get results. and set out to share this knowledge with the world! And that’s how The Habit Society started.
Our goal is to help you bridge the gap between desire and results. Most of the time when people ‘fail’, it’s their methods, not them.There are tons of resources out there, but it takes time and energy to sift through them. We do the brunt work for you, and keep you entertained at the same time! Our format is conversational and entertaining, building concepts incrementally.
We want to be everyone’s accountability partners. We know from our own experiences that an accountability partner is a real game changer. If you want to be someone who works out, eats healthy, meditates—or whatever it may be—you can through the power of habit.
Q: What are some easy habits that students can implement to get back into the swing of classes?
A: Here are some important concepts students should keep in mind:
The Pomodoro Technique
Implementing The Pomodoro Technique into your study habits will help you remember concepts. The technique suggests breaking up your studying into 25-minute chunks, followed by a 5-minute break. There is something called the primary and recency effects which state that you are most likely to remember something at the beginnings and ends of a learning session, while the middle is as useless as UberPool in 2020. So, working in 25-minute chunks adds more of these key learning opportunities to your study sessions so you are able to remember more.
Remembering requires actively transferring the information you learn into your memory. When you passively re-read your textbook or notes, you cheat yourself into believing you can recall the information you’re reading, when in reality, you simply recognize it. So, instead: Review the material, then close it and immediately write down what you remember. Then, open the material and fill in the blanks. The sweet spot is around 4x.
Start by reviewing the same material an hour later, then a day later, a week later… The CEO of Synap, the learning platform, explains that by spacing the intervals out, you’re exercising the neural connections each time, leading to greater retention of knowledge. It’s the same reason that you don’t just do 100 bicep curls in one day and then forget about them for a year. Your brain thrives on repetitive stimuli.
Be very harsh with your note-taking. You’ll most likely retain more by actually listening, than by ferociously taking down notes. Unless you’re one of those note-takers that get paid $200 a class. If you are, proceed.
For more tips, take a look at our newsletter dedicated to optimizing productivity, memory and all that fun stuff!
Q: What about negative habits? What can students avoid doing to maximize their potential?
A: Hide your phone
Phones and studying don’t go well together. In order to reduce distraction, eliminate cues that would lead you to check your phone. A major cue, like having it in sight, makes it difficult to ignore. Other possible cues: push notifications, sounds, ringtones, beeps, buzzes, chirps, tweets, dings, clacks… you get it.
A 2013 study paired strangers in a room to engage in conversation. Next to some pairs was an idle smartphone, and next to the others was a paper notebook. The strangers that had the smartphone next to them struggled to connect and scored their relationships as lower quality and their partners as less empathetic. This study proved how disruptive the mere presence of a phone is, even when it is not being used! This is because phones trigger us to think about everything else besides the conversation. So the next time you’re trying to learn some new concepts, place your phone completely out of sight. Out of sight, out of mind.
Tips to avoid screen time:
1. Use screen time as a reward for completing a task.
Set times in your day to check it: “After completing 1 chapter, I will allot 10 minutes to using my phone.” This will give you a strong incentive to complete important tasks.
2. Put social media apps (or other addicting ones) in a folder called ‘Bad For You’. Other name options: ‘Don’t click me’ ‘Time-Waster’ ‘Put your phone down & talk to your friend’ ‘It’s 5pm get out of bed’ I don’t know, we’re just spit balling.
3. Make your phone boring. Make it black and white. Here’s how.
4. Log out of your social media accounts.
That way, you won’t be able to do an Instagram scroll without taking the time to log back in. That may just be enough of an obstacle to keep you on track.
5. Use Screen Time Reminders.
Refer back to our ‘Too Much Screen Time’ issue for more info
Avoid the Cram
Rushing like JJ Watt the night before an exam won’t do you any good. Cramming usually means foregoing sleep which throws away most of the learning that’s done. Matthew Walker, a prominent intellectual in sleep psychology, found that sleep-deprived students scored 40% worse on an image-recall test than those who had slept normally before viewing the images. 40% - that’s no joke. Cramming also means making less beginning and ends, so you’ll remember way less (remember primacy and recency effects).
Q: Final words to finish the semester strong?
A: Students should remember that working out, meditating, reading, practicing good sleep and eating well may not be accolades you can put on a CV, but, these habits are a considerable part of what will make them valuable students and future workers. Not only will they be students who ambitiously strive for eminence, they will be ones who feel physically and mentally fit, which should never be underestimated.