Whether it be for a test, a final, an exam or any other kind of evaluation, most of us had, have or will have to deal with the task of studying for said evaluation - and oftentimes, it's not such a pleasant thing to do.

So it's no wonder I get weird looks from people when they hear I actually love to study. Who could even enjoy sitting with a textbook in front of them for hours at a time breaking down concepts and trying to memorise them? Well...if you really put it that way...nobody. But I don't think studying should be so boring and tedious. In fact, it can be quite fun! And today I am going to teach you how to turn your dreadful study sessions into something a bit more engaging and a little less frustrating.

1. Create an environment that inspires productivity!

A clean room and natural light can work wonders! Tidying up your working space before starting your task may even put you in a productive mood since it is psychologically registered as a stimulating accomplishment, while the light makes your brain more aware and responsive.

If you are studying at night or cannot access natural lighting sources, make sure that the artificial light source you are using is not damaging your eyes and is positioned properly. A good tip for placing a light source is on the opposite side of your dominant hand (if you are right-handed, place your lamp on the left, if you are left-handed, place it on the right) in order to avoid having shadows on your notebooks, papers etc. and straining your eyes.

If you have enough space on your desk, or somewhere near your working space, place a small vase with some flowers you like in it or a tiny potted plant (like a succulent or a cactus) somewhere in your line of sight. It can improve the atmosphere in and of the room, and bring a new, natural element to the study-oriented landscape, thus improving your mood even if just by a little bit!

You could also try lighting a scented candle. The aroma can help you relax and memorise your material easier, while also creating a more pleasant, comfortable environment for work. Study music - if you like listening to music while you work - can contribute to that as well, there are plenty of examples to choose from on YouTube. Classical music or Jazz are also viable choices.

Make sure the temperature in the room is comfortable for you, and have water or natural fruit juice close to you to stay hydrated.

Be careful with coffee and energisers, so as not to make yourself sick! Don't bring food with you, as it may cause a mess - if you're hungry, take a break and go eat!

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2. Organise your study materials!

Have your books, notebooks and notes placed in order of topic, importance, due date - or whichever criteria you want - and prepare what pens, pencils and highlighters you may need during the process of studying. Put your post-its, your glue, your scissors and any materials you may need within reach. You can even make a list of things so as not to forget anything. By the time you're done, you may actually feel motivated to study, and it will be easier for you to find what you need.

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3. Use all the colours of the rainbow!

When studying, visual memory can be vital in keeping heaps of information in mind. We already use visual memory a lot more than other types of memory - recalling events from the past, people, places, objects - so it can only be beneficial if we use it to enhance studying too!

The fun thing about visual memory is that it retains information that looks different, that stands out, so that when you need to remember it, you get the impression that you "see" that unique detail and therefore can reproduce it the way the "image" in your mind shows you. That uniqueness can be achieved by using a range of colours, drawings, charts and so on in your studying.

Attributing different colours to different types of information, also known as colour coding, comes in very handy in this case.
For example, you could use yellow for definitions, pink for examples, green for additional information and yellow for categories or related concepts. Create whatever code works best for you, and use it! You will find it easier to remember it this way rather than in the usual, traditional form.

Draw shapes, make charts, tables, sketches, diagrams - and decorate them appropriately. Use various types of arrows, bullet point styles, exclamation points, text boxes, stickers, and associate information with them/write it in or around them. This will further stimulate your visual memory and getting to draw and colour can be a good creative and memory exercise and a fun thing to do!

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4. Take breaks!

Overworking is neither enjoyable nor productive - I am saying this from personal experience. Our brains need to unwind and have time to process the information that we feed it, and, surprisingly enough, a big chunk of that processing is done when we are not focusing on the information anymore and are doing something else entirely. Something we enjoy.

You can take 5-10 minute breaks every 30-40 minutes, or use the Pomodoro method: 25 minutes hard work, 5 minutes break and every third break should be 20 minutes long. Whatever study time intervals you use, do not skip the breaks between them! Set reminders or alarms to warn you when it's time to stop and also when you need to resume your work. It is as easy to ignore breaks as it is to get lost into them!

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5. Beat procrastination one positive thought at a time!

If you find yourself putting off studying every 5 minutes at a time for the past 3 hours, you may be procrastinating. Severly so. Turns out, the hardest thing about studying is getting started on it.

I have found that a good motivation to start studying is the thought that once you do, you are going to finish studying eventually. And that will be very freeing. Just imagine yourself not having to study, and using that time to do something you like instead: going out with friends or a significant other, watching a film, reading a good book, browsing social media, baking, drawing, writing, playing a sport, watching your favourite shows, going on YouTube...

If you complete the task of studying, you will have time to do all these things and much more - and you want that, right? So hit the books, and once you're finished, you're ready to do whatever you want! But don't rush studying! Pay close attention to your materials. The free time earned afterwards will be even more satisfying if you do!

You could also try to find three things you find interesting or enjoyable in your study materials and use those as inspiration. There has to be something that sparks your interest there, even if it's just a word, or a phrase. Think of that, and you may start to get curious enough not only about it, but about the rest of the stuff, too.

If you really can't bring yourself to study traditionally, you can find some other methods to learn things in more modern ways too - there are documentaries and tutorials about everything on the Internet these days, as well as articles, pictures, explanations... and looking those up from your phone or computer is almost effortless. Searching for new information on your own can be stimulating and consulting more sources may bring new information to light. Just be careful which sites you trust!

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6. Congratulate yourself!

Congratulate yourself for having started studying! Congratulate yourself at the end of your study sessions!

Congratulate yourself for having read one page! Or two! Or a hundred!

Congratulate yourself for having finished one chapter! Or two! Or ten!

Congratulate yourself for every little thing you do! It's important to make yourself feel good about your achievements, even if they are small. Inner positive reinforcement will heighten your self-esteem and you will condition yourself into associating studying with positive feelings - which will, in turn, increase productivity!

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Lastly, try not to treat studying like a chore. Sure, it's not always going to be fun, but you can learn some very intersting things, and ensure a good score or grade for your evaluation. You're going to thank yourself for the time you alloted to studying, especially since hard work does pay off in the end!

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