The Iglu Guide | Blog

5 of the worst study habits to avoid this exam season

Balancing out your student life with your personal life can be a real challenge. For many students, it’s the first time living independently and having decision-making responsibilities. Finding that sweet spot between achieving academic tasks and enjoying distractions can be tough, and it’s all too easy to slip into some poor study habits. But if you know what to watch out for, you’re already one step ahead.

1. All night cramming

We’ve all been there. Those once-distant deadlines are slowly approaching, the clock is tick-tick-ticking – and still the work remains undone. But life is super busy, right? And there are always so many other fun things going on. It finally reaches that point where you have no other option but to pull an all-nighter – simply to get the work achieved on time. In the short term, it’s definitely a winning strategy. You’re going to meet that deadline, or make it through the exam, but it’s never going to be your best work – and here’s why. Sleep is an incredibly important part of the biological cycle where your brain processes and retains information from the previous day. Skipping out on precious zeds means you’re denying yourself the chance to fully retain important information, and will only be able to recall snippets or generalisations at best. The best way to avoid this is to stay well prepared and keep on top of your study schedule right from the get-go.

Quick tip: Use study apps to plan out your time more efficiently in the run-up to exams and assignments. Study smarter with My Study Life or Exam Countdown

2. Procrastination

It is a truth universally acknowledged that most of us like a little procrastination here and there – especially when faced with some tough assignments and study deadlines. Our natural instinct is to turn our heads the other way, and seek out activities that are probably entirely unrelated – even if we know that ultimately there will be consequences. We feel like we’re making good progress just tidying around the edges, while cleverly avoiding the main task. This type of procrastination is not just about bad time management, it’s also related to emotional anxiety. If we’re already feeling behind with our work, the task may seem too huge to address. Or maybe it will just reaffirm everything we don’t know and create even more stress. It becomes simply too hard to know where to begin, and the easy route is to avoid the problem until the last minute. Some students find this type of anxiety motivating. Chronic procrastinators will know all too well how it can create a spiral of negativity, affecting sleep patterns and social behaviours along the way. So, if you find your study habits slipping down this path, addressing the issue early on can make all the difference to your academic and social wellbeing.

Quick tip: Write out a task list that prioritises your workload, and try out some mindfulness apps like Headspace and Calm to manage any stress or anxiety.

3. Poor diet

It’s all too easy to reach for the quick-fix snacks when your head is buried in revision and study notes. Who doesn’t love a packet of iced VoVos the night before an exam? That instant burst of energy is just what you need to fire you onwards. But is it? Research has proven that low nutrient products can actually do your concentration levels more harm than good once that sugar high has worn off. Remember, you are what you eat and too much junk food can leave you feeling lethargic and unmotivated as well as being a real mood killer.  Nourish your body and boost your brain power with budget-friendly nutritious meals, and avoid the energy crash that convenience food brings.

Quick tip: Aim for a balanced diet that includes fresh fruit and vegetables every week. By planning your meals in advance you can keep your pantry stocked with some healthy snack options at the ready.

4. Digital Distractions

It seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be amazed at the number of students that work with their phone right next to them, or with their favourite tunes cranking out the speaker. And while it might seem like it’s not affecting the output, research would suggest otherwise. Although certain types of music can create a positive study environment, anything with catchy lyrics and a toe-tapping beat will have a nasty habit of distracting you from the task in hand. And those constant phone notifications reminding you about the fun times happening without you are not exactly conducive to effective study. Digital distractions can not only affect concentration levels, they can contribute to negative emotions. So unless you are using a device as a specific study aid, ditch the technology while you work.

Quick tip: Try some content blocking apps like FocusMe to reduce temptation. Change up the schedule and study with friends for a social fix.

5. Locking yourself away and overworking

Whilst the ultimate aim of a study session is of course, to study, there is a real danger that the desire to do well can lead to over-studying and overworking. Neither of these outcomes are beneficial to your health and wellbeing. In the first instance, although you may think you’re being super productive, you’re slowly exhausting yourself and depriving your body of much needed rest. Your ability to retain information is slowly diminished and the whole experience becomes counter productive. Secondly, it’s incredibly important for your mental health to take regular breaks and interact with the world around you. Not only will you gain social and health benefits from seeing friends and physically moving around, pressing pause on your studies allows you to reflect on your work. You’ll come back with a fresh perspective and your work will benefit as a result. 

Quick tip: Study to understand, rather than remember. Use different techniques such as mind maps to break it up, and plan in regular breaks to refresh your energies.

Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash

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