10 Tips to Study Long Hours Backed by Science
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If you ask anyone – they would say that they’d like to be able to study for long hours without getting fatigued, having brain fog, and to just study more efficiently. While I’m not going to encourage you to be studying 10+ hours a day – sometimes we just gotta do what we gotta do.
In this post we’re going to be discussing intermediate study tips that will inspire and push you to study long hours. I also have some extra studying-efficiency tips sprinkled ✨ throughout the page. Enjoy!
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1. Intentional Studying
The first, and most important tip to study long hours, is to study intentionally.
When I first started being more intentional in how and when I studied – I started to see massive results in my retention. Intentional learning is so important when it comes to reaching your goals and avoiding wasting your time.
When you start to be more intentional in your learning, you’re able to learn more faster. Study smarter – not harder.
People mistakenly just reread their notes, assume they’ll study later, or not set a time ⌚ for themselves to study. Don’t make these mistakes – please.
How you can study more intentionally:
Use SMART Goals.
The best way to study intentionally is to know what your goals and intentions are for each study session. To do this, you should use SMART goals.
Specific: What exactly are you trying to achieve?
Measurable: How will you know it’s completed / where is the end point?
Achievable: Make sure the goal is realistic for you.
Relevant: Does this goal relate to the bigger picture or to long-term goals?
Time-Bound: How long do you have to do it?
You should set both long-term, short-term, and daily SMART goals to keep yourself on track.
Daily Goal Example: On Tuesday from 12pm to 2pm, I’m going to study half of chapter one by taking handwritten notes, writing 20 practice questions, and creating flashcards.
Either Commit 85% or 0%
When studying, it’s really easy to half-ass everything. I used to – all of the freaking time.
It’s especially easy if you’re one of the students who find it easy to retain most of what you learned the first time, and can skimp by. But in reality, it doesn’t work for most of us. And a lot of us end up feeling guilty that we could have done better, even if we aren’t sure what we’re doing wrong.
When you go into a study session, make sure that you are committing 85% of your time to completely focusing on the task at hand. The other 15% will be spent taking breaks.
If you’re only putting in a small amount of effort, you’re wasting a ton of time. Keep in mind that time is something you’ll never get back.
Structure your Learning
After completing your smart goal and agreeing to commit 85%, you need to structure your learning.
To structure your learning, all you need to do is decide what steps you’re going to be taking to first learn and then apply the concept.
My personal study structure looks like this:
- Take notes on chapter
- Convert notes to pictures
- Write down my own questions
- Combine personal & book questions
- Create flashcards if needed
- 1 day later – Recall my notes & write extra questions for things I’ve forgotten
- 3 days later – Answer questions, pay attention to what I’ve missed
- 4th day – Extra research on information that I’m not remembering or understanding
- 7th day – Practice teaching the information to a fake student
- 15th day – Active recall, & answer all questions again
- 30th day – Recall information in new way & be able to apply it
While your study structure doesn’t have to be nearly as in-depth as mine, it’s important that you know what steps you should be taking.
Tip: If you’re feeling overwhelmed trying to structure your learning – just take things one step at a time. Sometimes it’s easier to get a gauge on your learning and make adjustments as you go.
Review Your Learning
You should have set times to review your learning. Above, I review my learning on every 1, 7, 15, and 30th day from studying.
Apply Your Learning
What’s the reason for learning new things? Is it to ace a quiz, is it to be knowledgeable about a subject, or is it to be able to apply the knowledge?
If you answered yes to all, you’re correct.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to do well on quizzes and to just know things – but it’s really important that you’ll be able to apply the knowledge.
Spending time applying knowledge to certain topics will not only help you to remember what you’ve learned, but it will also help you to ace your exams. If you’re someone who struggles with curveball questions, I suggest you spend more time applying what you’ve learned.
Yes, you should revise again. Revising is important for retaining information learned. Have you ever heard of the ‘forgetting curve’?
The more you revise & practice what you’ve learned, the longer you’ll be able to remember it. So keep practicing and revising!
Learn the information in a new way
The final and last step is to study the information in a new way. Preferably any way that you’re using active recall will be the most beneficial.
You can do this by teaching to a fake student, drawing a picture, creating multi-step problems, creating a mind-map, or even debating the topic amongst your friends.
It’s important to learn the information in a new way like this because it encourages better retention.
2. Stop Multitasking
I’m sure we’ve all been there.
Either witnessing or being the victim of a cell-phone 📱 withdrawal by a teacher. I’ve been there… and it really sucks.
Okay okay… we all know that removing distractions is very important for learning.
But we often make a few mistakes when it comes to removing these distractions.
Mistake 1: Relying on willpower. 💪🙅♀️
How many times have you attempted to be stronger than your desires? I have. And guess what? I fail each and every time.
While willpower is indeed something that you can improve over time, it’s a lot easier, and more effective, to stop relying purely on willpower to avoid everyday things that distract you.
The easiest thing to do is to get rid of whatever it is that’s distracting you. If you’re unable to get rid of it, I suggest you brainstorm some ways to avoid or overcome this distraction.
For example, let’s say that you have a bad habit of checking your email every 15 minutes and you’re wanting to reduce that down to 2 times a day.
To fix this, I would suggest that you change your email password to something you can’t remember, and put the password in a hard-to-reach spot. Now, every time you check your email, you have to log out and go put your password back.
After a few days, that bad habit will be gone!
Mistake 2: Assuming you won’t get distracted.
I don’t know what it is, but there are those few people who believe that they never get distracted. Unless you’re dealing with hyperfocus… I don’t believe you – sorry.
Sometimes we don’t even notice we’re getting distracted! For me, my boyfriend rolling his chair distracts me a ton. For the longest time I didn’t even realize how distracting it was until I started wearing earplugs.
When you notice that your focus has been broken, take a second to write down what broke your focus. After the day, review what’s causing you the most distraction and get rid of it!
3. Get Enough Sleep 😴
Getting enough sleep is so important for your health. If you’re wanting to study long hours – you HAVE to be getting enough sleep.
A lot of people – including myself – have had the great idea to skip out on sleep to cram in a test. I believe that it’s honestly not worth it.
Not only is not getting enough sleep bad for your health, but it also impacts your productivity because you can’t even remember what you’ve studied. Sleeping encourages long-term memory storage rather than short-term. Long-term memory is easier to apply and put to use – short-term is not.
If you’re a person who isn’t getting enough sleep – I suggest for the sake of your health and productivity – for you to read these tips on how you can get better sleep:
Tip 1: You should be getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night.
Tip 2: Turn off your electronics at least an hour before bed.
I know it sucks, but you shouldn’t be on your electronics an hour before bed if possible. I suggest that if you’re a student, you should spend these few hours reviewing and trying to recall your notes.
Tip 3: Consider taking melatonin. 💊
If you struggle with getting consistent sleep or with never feeling tired, I suggest taking melatonin.
I personally have been taking melatonin for 3 years now and the only side effect I got was a migraine from taking too many.
Your body already produces melatonin naturally but taking extra can help signal to your body that it’s time for you to go to sleep.
Tip 4: Consider wearing earplugs.
If you are a light sleeper or you struggle to stay asleep, I suggest getting earplugs.
The great thing about earplugs is that they don’t completely get rid of sound – they just dampen it.
If you’re looking for earplugs that look both stylish and don’t annoy your ears when laying down, I suggest you buy Loops. I have this exact pair and I wear them all the time. When working, in the shower, while eating, and while sleeping. Obviously – I’m obsessed.
Tip 5: Don’t drink caffeine 8 hours before bed. Yes… 8 hours.
Caffeine typically stays in our bodies from 5 to 8 hours. Any amount can disrupt your sleep – so I suggest not having any coffee before bedtime.
Tip 6: Have a specific wake and sleep time.
There’s nothing worse for your sleep than irregular sleep patterns. Not only does it increase your risk for cardiovascular disease but it also disrupts your circadian rhythm which helps you to get to sleep on time.
Tip 7: Optimize your bedroom environment.
I literally have myself and my boyfriend sleeping under a homemade tent in our living room.
If you can – optimize your bedroom environment to help get yourself to sleep. There’s no shame in struggling to fall asleep.
Tip 8: Don’t drink liquid before bed. 🥤
There’s literally nothing worse than waking up and sprinting to the nearest toilet, and then not being able to fall back asleep.
If bad study techniques were any type of illness, they would be the plague. Why? You ask.
Well – they affect everyone. I haven’t met one person who didn’t at one point in their life fall victim to a bad study technique.
It’s not surprising – study tips and techniques are readily available literally everywhere. YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and so many more.
It’s so important to get rid of bad study techniques because not only do they inhibit your progress, they also encourage procrastination, and they feed low self-esteem.
They hurt your progress by wasting your time and they feed low self-esteem by giving you bad test grades, even though you studied for many hours. I personally understand what this feels like. I used to work so hard to get good grades and it felt like nothing was working.
A good way to avoid falling victim to a bad study technique is to review all of the techniques you’re using – often. Just because they work for somebody else doesn’t mean they’ll work for you. It’s important that you do your own research.
Although this may seem time-consuming, imagine the time you’re wasting using the technique and it not working.
Keep a log of all of your study techniques. 📝Every week or two, take some time to reflect on whether or not these are actually working for you.
Another bad study technique to avoid is spending too much time planning rather than doing. I am definitely a list person and organization is my thing.
When it comes to studying you want to spend the least amount of time doing things such as writing notes, copying notes, or rereading information. You want to spend the majority of your time applying and using the information in a new way.
A lot of people think that just rereading or highlighting their notes is studying but I hate to tell you that it’s not. Studies have shown that highlighting your notes is actually quite ineffective. It also takes a long time to learn anything from just rereading.
If you’re someone who struggles with over-planning and over-organizing then give yourself 30 minutes to plan out the entire week. Do not allow yourself to revise this unless plans change. And before each study session only give yourself 10 minutes to plan.
Giving yourself a set time forces you to only plan for the most important things you’ll be doing.
If you’re thinking this won’t work because it doesn’t give you enough time to plan exactly what you’re doing, that’s the point.
You should also stop having unrealistic expectations for yourself. Too often I see people trying to be straight-A students when they’re currently getting all C’s.
Your main focus should only be to be better than you were the last time. Sometimes we expect ourselves to do the impossible. Then when we fail, we blame ourselves and our unfair circumstances.
5. Good Study Techniques
The most important thing when it comes to being able to study well is to use a good technique, and to use it often.
Good techniques should improve your efficiency and ensure that you’re getting good grades for your exams and assignments. Even if you’re not getting good grades, you should be getting better grades.
The first study tip you should remember is to review the study methods you use. I discussed this in the bad study technique section. I felt it was so important that I had to add it again.
A lot of people, including myself, watch a YouTube video, find an interesting study technique we haven’t used before, and just start using it. We don’t spend any time thinking about whether or not it’s actually working.
In my early years of high school, I would always push things off until the last second. Thankfully, I was still receiving decent grades, but I definitely could have been a top student had I applied myself.
The conclusion of this story: plan ahead for assignments and tests. If you’re someone who does things whenever they feel like it, don’t be expecting good grades.
If you’re looking for a free and easy tool to use to organize your schoolwork, I suggest that you use Google Calendar. 📅 Google Calendar’s great because it doesn’t allow you to spend too much time planning, but it allows you to stay organized.
You can also do what I do, which is use a journal. 📖 Interestingly, the bullet journal was designed with individuals with ADHD in mind.
Basically, you should make sure that you review your learning techniques often and use a system to organize your studying.
6. Effective Breaks
If you’re someone who´s wanting to have long study sessions, It’s not a question of whether or not you should take a break.
It’s not a secret that taking breaks is very effective, but exactly why is it we need to take breaks?
Taking breaks often, especially when studying for a long time, allows us to keep our energy levels even throughout the day.
By keeping your energy levels even, you’re able to retain more of the information you learn.
I personally used to skip out on breaks because I felt like I didn’t need to take them. it was only after I took a course and they emphasized the importance of breaks, that I finally decided to try it out for myself.
To say I was amazed is an understatement. I had no idea how much avoiding taking breaks was actually affecting my studying.
Have I finally convinced you to start taking breaks?
If you can, you should aim to take 15-minute breaks every single hour. You can also divide up these breaks. Such as 5 minutes every 25 minutes or 30-40 minutes every 2 hours.
There’s a lot of information and articles on how long you should take breaks, but it really depends on you.
You need to keep in mind how difficult the work is that you’re doing. If you’re working on something that is very mentally taxing, you should be taking longer breaks, more often. If you’re doing something such as busywork, then you may not need as many breaks as often.
During these breaks, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
The first thing is that you should not spend your breaks on social media. There’s a lot of studies that show how social media use is directly linked to stress and anxiety.
Your studying breaks should be stress-free and without a thought of studying.
If you’re wondering what you should do during your break, you should try to get in some exercise or a nap. I personally enjoy drawing in an adult coloring book or skimming through a magazine.
If you do decide to take a nap during your break, aim to only nap for 5, 10, or 20 minutes. Any longer, and you risk either oversleeping or being groggy.
My 15-minute breaks look something like this:
- 5 min – get snacks, water & say hi to boyfriend
- 5 min – do jumping jacks or some quick form of exercise
- 5 min – color in my adult coloring book
Remember: If you’re studying long hours – YOU NEED TO TAKE BREAKS.
7. Eating Junk Food While Studying 🥡
If you’re trying to crank out a long study session, it’s important that the stuff that’s coming into your body is good for you.
Surprisingly, a lot of people don’t think about what they’re eating while they’re studying. Maybe you’ve noticed that you become a bit groggy after having some chocolate while studying.
Maybe you’re one of the lucky people who aren’t affected by this at all.
It’s important to be eating healthily because these foods will affect your performance both in the short-term and long-term.
While I’m definitely not going to lecture you on better eating habits, studies have shown that fast food consumption 🥡 has been linked to lower academic achievement.
A few mistakes people make while studying are eating foods that are very high in sugar or boredom snacking. We tend to use this as a way to procrastinate or distract ourselves.
To avoid doing this, prepare healthy snacks beforehand for your breaks and avoid eating unhealthy foods during and even after studying. You also want to make sure that you don’t consume too much food during your study sessions, otherwise, you may end up feeling groggy.
For me personally, I try to avoid any high-calorie or high sugary foods when I’m working or I plan to be doing something with my mind.
Are you one of the people who swear by flashcards? Flashcards are popular for a lot of reasons, and one of the reasons – is that they actually work.
I don’t want you to misunderstand this section. I am by no means saying that using flashcards is ineffective. I am, however, saying that there are more ways to study than just flashcards, and some of them are better.
However, if we’re wanting to apply information in more than one way and to be able to use the information in a different setting, it’s important that we practice in different ways.
Flashcards are especially useful for spaced repetition purposes. Flashcards are not useful when it comes to studying hours on end.
If you’re looking to be able to study for multiple hours, I suggest you use other study techniques that will challenge you and will help you avoid boredom & spacing off.
First off, it’s important to make sure we’re actually using flashcards properly.
The first way is to make sure you’re actually recalling the information. Some people look at the flashcard and before they say what it is out loud or in their minds, they flip it over. Try to avoid doing this.
We also want to make sure to remember to study flashcards spaced out.
Some people will study flashcards one time and then throw them in the bin. One of the reasons flashcards are so effective is the fact that they can be used to store information in your mind for long-term. This is why it’s important to study flashcards more than once. (Keep in mind the forgetting curve.)
Another way to use your flashcards effectively is to use pictures and mindmaps instead of words. Our mind is much better with abstract thinking and visual cues than it is with memorizing words.
Some other studying techniques you can use are teaching a fake student, drawing a picture, or even creating a fake test for yourself to ensure that you completely understand the information. This is very useful when you’re trying to apply it in multiple ways.
9. The Hardest Stuff First
The majority of individuals believe you should start with your easiest tasks first. They think this because ‘it will get the ball rolling’ and it will motivate you to get the harder stuff done.
This is actually a misconception.
When we start off our study sessions with easy tasks, they can be used as a procrastination tool and will encourage us to put off the more important and difficult tasks. Most of the time, these complicated tasks are important for our success long-term.
If you’re someone who struggles with procrastination or fatigue after many hours of studying, I really suggest that you start with your hardest tasks first.
You can simply do this by writing down everything you need to accomplish in the study session and then ranking them from easiest to hardest. Then, of course, start with the hardest task.
The only time this is not applied is when you have to accomplish an easier task in order to do a harder task.
10. Don’t be a Jerk to Yourself (& also preferably others…)
Last but not least, the most important thing for a long study session, is to be kind to yourself. ❤️🔥
Not only is self-care good for your mental and physical health but it makes it easier to be productive.
Common mistakes people make are expecting perfection from themselves and not knowing when to stop and take a break.
Remember as I stated before, we should not strive to be the best, rather we should strive to be better than we were before.
It’s also not a bad thing to need to take a day off or to rest for a few hours.
A few ways you can practice self-care during studying and daily life are as follows:
- exercise (30 min)
- 7-9 hours of sleep a night
- following a routine that suits your needs
- drinking enough water
- eating well, both during and after studying
- doing things that you enjoy such as yoga 🧘, meditation, taking baths 🛀, or even going on walks 🚶♀️.
Also if you’re interested, there’s this really cool yoga mat 🧘 from Amazon if you’re wanting to start making yoga a priority during studying breaks.
I really hope you enjoyed these 10 items that will improve your productivity and efficiency when studying for long hours.