How to Study Efficiently for Hours On End (With the Help of a Tomato)

homework help study skills

Title_ How to Study Efficiently for Hours On End (With the Help of a Tomato) (1)If you’re like me, the long open days of the weekend, summer vacation, or Covid-19-induced lockdown can seem to stretch forever. These days or long afternoons are great opportunities to nail down some studying. Yet, all too often I catch myself having wasted hours of my study time reading the New York Times, falling down a YouTube hole, or sending unimportant emails.

Here are four tips on how to manage your time and use those long study periods efficiently.

1. Set Up a Study Area

My first tip is so important: build a place for studying and try to only use that space for studying. I know this isn’t possible for everyone’s living situation (and with Covid-19 lockdown), but if a certain chair at the dinner table, a desk, or a countertop can be just for studying, this will train your brain to focus in that spot. This is why I love libraries! I do all my work in a library because home is too associated with fun (and distractions) in my mind.

2. Break Your Studying Into Manageable (Tomato Sized) Chunks

There are many tactics to break up a long set of time into manageable chunks. My favorite is the Pomodoro Technique: focus through any study session by breaking your work into repeating intervals of 25 minutes “on” followed by a five-minute break. The technique was invented by the Italian, Francesco Cirillo, in the 1980’s while he was in business school. He named the technique after the kitchen timer he used to regulate his time, which happened to be shaped like a tomato (pomodoro means tomato in Italian). With the Pomodoro Technique, one can commit to productive focus for a reasonable amount of time, and then relax for a moment before getting back into studying. After every 4 “pomodoros” it’s advised that you take a 15-30-minute break from working to avoid burnout. Believe me, this works: writing right now, I have 14-minutes left on my Pomodoro.

3. Take Smart Breaks

Breaks are essential to making it through long study sessions, but not all breaks are equal. A break should let your mind rest and recharge before getting into studying again. I often find myself in study breaks wanting to reach for my phone and scroll through social media, or read emails, but really this only continues to drain my brain’s energy stores. Instead, I recommend going on a short walk to clear your mind. Fill up your water bottle, get some fresh air outside, or even do a few jumping jacks. This will get your mind processing in a totally different way than when you were studying, thus resetting it for your next round of studying. One other strategy I use when walking around isn’t viable is to draw in an adult coloring book!

4. Keep Distractions Away

This one may seem obvious, but limiting distractions is one of the easiest ways to improve your studying efficiency. I recommend physically moving your phone out of arm’s reach and out of sight, and keep it on Do Not Disturb! Turn off any and all notifications on your computer (this means texts, emails, social media notifications). And consider downloading “SelfControl” [selfcontrolapp.com]. It’s an application that locks you out of certain websites on your computer for up to 24 hours. It’s a powerful tool that requires you to sign into your computer each time you activate it just so you’re sure of your decision. Of course, you should know there are no work arounds for the app. While it may seem intimidating to lock yourself out of your email for hours on end, I often use it for only 30 minutes. If I can get through that length of time without giving into the temptation of distractions, I can stay focused for the rest of the day.

Hopefully, these tips have been helpful! I know long study sessions can be hard to manage, but with these techniques, I’ve found myself staying focused and studying efficiently for hours on end.

All of our tutors are available to work with any student with broadband Internet access, no matter where you are.

The Cambridge Coaching homework help tutor's mission is to mentor middle and high school students in multiple subjects. By explaining difficult academic content and helping students develop foundational study skills, we help students in grades four through twelve become thoughtful, engaged, and successful students. We work with parents to respond to teachers’ feedback and emphasize a broad set of academic skills: time management, organization, basic research, note taking, memorization, and test taking.  Whether your child is struggling to manage five AP’s, three SAT II’s, or simply buckling under the weight of all their schoolwork, our tutors will give them the mentorship and guidance they need.

Contact us!

Want to read up on some other helpful studying tips and tricks? See below!

Staying Productive During Self Quarantine

Studying at Home: How to Keep up with Work During Covid-19

Study Guides: How to Craft the Best Test-Prep Tool

Comments

topicTopics
academics MCAT study skills SAT medical school admissions expository writing English college admissions GRE GMAT LSAT MD/PhD admissions chemistry math physics ACT biology language learning writing strategy law school admissions graduate admissions MBA admissions creative writing homework help MD test anxiety AP exams interview prep summer activities history philosophy career advice academic advice premed ESL economics grammar personal statements study schedules admissions coaching law statistics & probability PSAT computer science organic chemistry psychology SSAT covid-19 CARS legal studies logic games USMLE calculus parents reading comprehension 1L Latin Spanish dental admissions DAT engineering excel political science French Linguistics Tutoring Approaches chinese research DO MBA coursework Social Advocacy case coaching classics genetics kinematics skills verbal reasoning ISEE academic integrity algebra business business skills careers geometry medical school mental health social sciences trigonometry 2L 3L Anki FlexMed Fourier Series Greek IB exams Italian MD/PhD programs STEM Sentence Correction Zoom amino acids analysis essay architecture art history artificial intelligence astrophysics athletics biochemistry capital markets cell biology central limit theorem chemical engineering chromatography climate change curriculum data science dental school diversity statement finance first generation student functions gap year harmonics health policy history of medicine history of science information sessions integrated reasoning international students investing investment banking mba meiosis mitosis music music theory neurology phrase structure rules plagiarism presentations pseudocode secondary applications sociology software software engineering teaching tech industry transfer typology virtual interviews writing circles