It’s really easy to fall into the trap of bad study habits. What worked for you in one class may not work in another. Or if you are in high school, your routines now most likely will not be effective if you go to college. It’s super important that you understand what are effective habits to study successfully.
In this post, you will learn some bad study habits you should break now, and how to improve for the future.
What are Bad Study Habits?
Not Planning Ahead
If you are not planning your study sessions, you are hindering your efforts. This leads to all-nighters, cramming for exams, bad grades, and burnout. Procrastination isn’t impossible to beat. By organizing all assignment due dates and exam dates into a physical or digital planner, you can make the work a lot less overwhelming.
By inputting all deadlines into your planner/calendar, you can block out times you want to designate for assignments and study sessions. This also allows you to set priorities for what needs to get done ASAP. When dealing with setting up blocks of time to study for an exam, you should also split up the material you want to cover. If you plan to do the work little by little you can avoid burnout and save yourself the stress of cramming.
Not Setting Study Goals
In addition to designating study sessions in your schedule, you have to set goals for each one. If you aren’t trying to achieve a certain outcome after each session, you aren’t efficiently using your time. There should always be something you are trying to accomplish whether it’s writing a certain amount of pages or being able to solve a type of math question without help.
Anytime I am going to study, I set clear guidelines of what I want to achieve. This keeps me organized and points me in the right direction. Studying should always help you advance your understanding of a concept and you can only do that if you have clear goals in mind. If you don’t this can lead you to study for hours and hours with nothing to show for it.
Letting your Phone Distract You
The best way to avoid distractions from social media and your phone is to leave it in another room. I know that it can be hard at times to have self-control when it comes to your phone. It’s so much easier to scroll through Twitter rather than reading about differential equations. However, this distraction can ultimately cost you the difference between passing or failing an exam. It can make you procrastinate even more or try to multitask by looking through Instagram and watching a lecture video at the same time. It just won’t work.
To try and rid yourself of making the decision between phone time and study time, just place your phone away from you. It can be on the other side of your room or in a different one. As long as you can’t see your phone when you are studying, you should be fine.
If you feel that moving your phone away may not be enough and that you’ll resort to going on social media on your computer/laptop, check out these chrome extensions for students. You can find out how to set time limits on certain sites and maximize your study time online.
Not Asking for Help
Another way to seriously harm you from doing well on exams is by not asking for help. Whether it hurts your pride or you are too scared to ask, you have to get over it. I know it’s harsh, but by not asking you are only hurting yourself even more. Not all professors or TAs are scary. A lot of them want to help you and get excited when students ask questions. It shows that you care enough about their class by being able to show up and ask questions.
If it’s not best to ask the professor or TAs, you have other options for help as well. Reach out to other students in your class! They are learning the materials just like you are and some of them are lost too. You can post a discussion on your class’s Canvas asking if others would like to form a study group.
If that’s too much, always check out what tutoring options your school offers. Some universities offer free tutoring for certain subjects.
Studying to Memorize
Your goal for most material shouldn’t be to memorize and regurgitate the information. That means flashcards or rereading your notes will not suffice as the only way to study. It’s important that when you go over readings or your notes that you actually try to understand the material. Highlighting and underlining some key terms isn’t enough to really understand what’s going on.
Try to rewrite the material in your own words. Or if it’s a math problem, write down all the steps you need to take to solve it. Even writing down questions to ask your professor later shows that you are truly trying to understand the material. Memorization can only get you so far. It can be a complete waste of time for a lot of classes.
Studying at the Wrong Place and Wrong Time
Some people will tell you that you should only study in complete silence. That’s not a one-size-fits-all rule though. It can actually help you set the mood to get into a productive mindset. Personally, I need quiet to focus, but just because I need that doesn’t mean someone else also does. Set up your designated study area to suit your needs.
Just like deciding if you should play music when you are studying, you should determine the time too. If you are a morning person, incorporate it into your morning routine list! If you are a night-owl, set up your study times for when you feel the most productive. There is no point in trying to study difficult materials when you aren’t at your best.
Not Taking Breaks
Another way to burn yourself out is by not taking breaks. If you sit down and study for 12 hours straight, how much of that are you really learning? There is no reason why shouldn’t be giving yourself breaks to relax. Set up blocks of time to study and to rest to avoid studying harder and not smarter.
You can even try the Pomodoro technique where you study for 25 minutes then take a 5-minute break. It can be very helpful for anyone who doesn’t know how to properly block their time out to maximize productivity.
How do I Break Bad Study Habits?
You can break bad study habits by getting started with your new routine now! The best time to start is now, so begin planning out a study schedule, set goals for each study session, and ask for help when you need it. Make sure that you have the perfect environment to study as well. Your phone should be far away and you should be in a place where you can focus.
Recap of Bad Study Habits to Avoid
Overall, there are quite a few things you should avoid to study effectively. Procrastination and a lack of planning go hand in hand and are very common amongst most students. If you can break these habits, it will be much easier to break the rest. Once you can change, you’ll be on your way to studying without issues.
Let me know what your best study tip is, comment down below!
YES. These are so needed. Currently in grad school and working full time. I will be using these tips for later!
I never used to take breaks while studying, I still don’t while I work. I need to change it. Thanks for the reminder.
I love this! School at home gets a little hard for me at times so I needed this tips! Thanks!
These are great tips! When I was attending college I was a father of 3, had a home to for which to care, and was working fulltime. I was usually flying by the seat of me pants, but made it through with the help of my lovely bride! Our oldest is now in junior high, so this would be a great read for him.
Such an insightful post! Although I am long past studying, I continue to learn new things (skills and languages, mainly) and these tricks will be sure to keep me on track. Truly resonating with the part about getting clear about your own needs to get into a productive mindset. It’s definitely not one-size-fits-all and you should never feel the need to apologize for/work around your individual needs. Thank you for the mindful reminder! Love, Susanne
Ah this takes me back lol. I used to only study to memorize, not take breaks, and I’d hesitate to ask for help. High school and undergrad were really a huge tester for me and my study skills. You could say I’d really majored in study skills since that was the bulk of what I learned in college!
Not planning ahead was absolutely my biggest downfall with studying! Taking 10 minutes the night before to get your next day set up does wonders!
I make some of these mistakes
For me, my phone can be such a distraction, thanks so much for this post!
This is a great post. When I was in college, studying to memorize and getting distracted by my phone were huge bad habits of mine. My best studying tip would be not to over push yourself- if you do that, you only end up becoming frazzled and overwhelmed. You need a clear head to study and retain information.
Thank you for sharing your tips!
Great article! My phone is definitely distracting me the most 🙂
Loved this! Your first tip was key! Procrastination is the biggest problem when it comes to studying. I used to find myself lying in bed thinking about getting up to study and I would end up wasting all of my energy on that so by the time I started studying I was exhausted. The best thing is to just get up and do it! My favourite study tip is listening to concentration music! It’s so relaxing but it also keeps you super focusing on your work. Thanks so much for sharing this!
I was the same way where I would exhaust myself from just thinking about studying rather than doing the work! You are completely right that the best way to combat it is to just do it!
Great post and fantastic tips. Planning ahead is such an important one and it can be your downfall in any part of your life. I make it a point to get up 10 minutes early in the morning to plan my day. And every Sunday morning I sit down and plan my week. The best way for me to keep me organized with family, my two businesses, and a dog, yes, even the dog gets his time on my schedule 🙂
Great post! I found that finding the best place to study helped me with retention and focus SO much!
Breaks are so important for studying! If you’re struggling with it, after a certain amount of time, focusing starts to feel impossible and you won’t retain anything. It’s important to take a break when you need one to refresh your mind.
You hit the nail on the head with these bad habits. Our phones can be so distracting and then you waste time getting back and focusing on what you were studying. I’m also bad for not taking breaks because I want to get what I’m doing over and done with and that’s a bad habit. We NEED breaks to make the most out of studying. Great tips!
These are such great tips! Not just studying to memorize is so important these days. There’s so much emphasis on getting perfect scores all the time that it’s easy to forget the whole point of education: learning and understanding. Without understanding, all you have are answers to some random niche trivia night.
Oof, I definitely could’ve used these tips when I was back in school! I always struggled with distractions– not necessarily my phone, but definitely studying in the library never worked for me, I was always people-watching instead!
I really love your layout! Nice colors!
Excellent post on bad study habits to avoid. My greatest struggle was my phone, so whenever I need to study. I turn it off.