Does studying feel like a chore to you?
If you feel unmotivated, bored, or anxious when it comes to studying, you’re not alone.
And while balance is extremely important, studying will always be a core part of student life.
The good news is that any student can learn to make studying productive and fun.
Yes, you read that right. Studying can be fun! In fact, you can learn how to get into a flow state and make time fly as you work on your assignments.
Let’s explore ways to make studying more enjoyable.
(If you sometimes procrastinate or lack focus, make sure you download the quick action guide below.)
Tip #1: Stop saying “I have to study”
At times, we may not be attentive enough to the words we say to ourselves. But these words can shape how we view ourselves and the situations in our lives.
The next time you have an upcoming exam, observe how you speak to yourself about it.
You might say something like, “I have to study for the exam.” Once you say this, your brain is wired to think about studying as a chore you have to do – rather than something you choose to do.
What should you say instead?
Replace “have to” with either “choose to” or “get to.”
When you say “I choose to study for the exam,” it’s a reminder that nobody is putting a gun to your head and forcing you to study. It’s a decision that you get to make.
And when you say “I get to study for the exam,” you’re reminding yourself that there are millions of children and teenagers around the world who want to go to school, but who don’t have the opportunity to.
Tip #2: Remind yourself that grades aren’t what matter most
As a student, it’s easy to become too focused on your grades.
That’s understandable. There’s satisfaction you derive from seeing your test scores go up or from getting compliments from your teachers and parents.
Getting good grades is a positive goal and it’s something worth working toward. But it isn’t the only important part of your student life.
Becoming fixated on grades will only lead to unnecessary stress. This will hurt your academic performance too.
It’s the process of learning from your mistakes and improving that matters in the long run.
Tip #3: Study in shorter blocks
Do you find that your concentration wanes after 45 or 60 minutes of studying?
Pushing yourself to study for long stretches at a go takes the joy out of learning.
A practical study tip is to break down your study sessions into shorter blocks.
You can implement a method called the Pomodoro technique. This technique is a simple yet effective tool for focused work.
Here’s how you can apply it during your study sessions:
- Set a specific task for your study session.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes.
- Work on the task until the timer rings.
- Take a five-minute break. (Set a timer for the break too.)
- Repeat the steps listed above.
- Take a longer break of 15-30 minutes every four rounds.
Of course, you can experiment with the exact length of each study session to find what works best for you. An app like the Productivity Challenge Timer can also help you in this process.
Tip #4: Write down the tasks and assignments you’ve completed
We’ve all heard of a to-do list, but here’s another type of list you should keep: a “done” list.
Keep a record of the tasks and assignments you’ve completed. You can organize these tasks based on their completion date.
But how does a “done” list help? It reminds you to give yourself a pat on the back for what you’ve accomplished.
Keeping a “done” list will make you feel more motivated.
It will also allow you to keep track of the tasks you’ve finished – just in case you can’t remember what’s been completed and what’s still pending.
Tip #5: Cultivate a sense of curiosity
If you want to enjoy studying, you need to go beyond surface-level learning.
Yes, a significant part of studying involves reading the materials given to you and memorizing important bits of information.
But this gets boring pretty fast, doesn’t it?
So try this instead…
Ask yourself questions throughout the learning process. It’s an effective way to pick up new concepts.
This study found that participants who asked themselves questions and answered them during the learning process learned the material better.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself while studying:
- How is this new concept related to what I already know?
- How can this information be applied in the real world?
- What are some real-life examples of this theory in action?
- How was this concept or theory discovered?
If you run into a question you can’t answer, a quick online search is likely to yield an answer.
Tip #6: Get creative with your notes
You can use digital note-taking apps to make your notes more enjoyable to read. For instance, you can add colors, diagrams, icons, and creative fonts to a digital canvas.
If you prefer taking notes with pen and paper, try using colorful highlighters or markers to draw your attention to the key points.
This study suggests that color coding can improve your attention and memory when studying. It can also enhance how your brain processes and organizes information.
Mindmaps are another way to bring your notes to life.
Mindmaps are diagrams that represent concepts and ideas. Mindmaps demonstrate how these concepts and ideas are linked to a central topic and each other.
Mindmaps can encourage intuitive learning by structuring the information clearly.
Tip #7: Invest in stationery you love
If you love the stationery you use while studying, the process of studying will become more fun.
You might choose to invest in stationery like:
- Special highlighters
- Uniquely-shaped paperclips
- Washi tape
- Colorful sticky notes
You can also make note-taking more exciting by using cool notebooks and pens that are nice to write with.
Tip #8: Find a motivated study group
One way to stay on track academically is to study with friends who share the same goals as you. These study sessions can be done online or in person.
Study groups work because accountability can play a huge role in enabling you to form the right study habits.
Start by deciding when you’ll study together on a weekly basis. Then, you can keep each other accountable by encouraging everyone to show up for each study session.
Group study sessions help to break the monotony of studying. Through these sessions, you’ll learn from your friends and you’ll get to compare notes too.
Tip #9: Listen to music (but be wise about your music choices)
Listening to music can help to reduce stress. It can also improve concentration and enhance learning.
But you need to be cautious when curating your study playlist.
Not all kinds of music are helpful. Certain types of music can be distracting.
Loud and fast music (especially songs with lyrics) can reduce focus. In contrast, soft and slow background music without lyrics can improve focus.
Experiment with different playlists to find what works best for you.
Tip #10: Integrate interactive learning materials into your study plan
Sticking to just one learning format can become tiresome and boring. That’s why it’s a good idea to mix things up!
So, why not explore different formats and modes of learning?
If you have access to the internet, there are thousands of free resources at your fingertips.
These resources might come in the form of:
- Video lessons
- Interactive lectures
- Printable worksheets
- Learning apps and games
- Downloadable resource kits
- Online quizzes
- Online and printable flashcards
- Digital guides
Use at least a couple of these types of learning materials to make your study sessions more interesting.
Tip #11: Use apps that make it fun to focus
Here are a few apps I recommend:
- Study Bunny: This app comes with a study tracker and focus timer. You’ll get a virtual study buddy bunny that you can customize with the coins you earn.
- Habitica: This app uses in-game rewards to help you build good habits and stay consistent.
- Forest: In this app, each time you start a focused study session, you plant a virtual tree that keeps growing as long as you stay on task. You can use the coins you earn to make a donation to plant a real tree.
Tip #12: Make your own flashcards
Flashcards incorporate both words and pictures to help you actively recall information.
How do flashcards work?
One side of the flashcard has a question, and the flip side has the answer. After you read the question, say your answer out loud before flipping over the flashcard to see if you got it right.
For example, one side of the flashcard could say, “What type of organisms are bacteria?”
The flip side could say, “Prokaryotes.”
Using flashcards is a better approach than just passively reading the textbook or notes.
You can make your own flashcards by using index cards or regular paper cut into smaller pieces.
Many students find studying to be boring, stressful, and tedious.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Studying can be fun. It all depends on the mindset you have and how you approach each study session.
Take a couple of the tips in this article and apply them in the coming week. I’m sure you’ll start to enjoy the learning process more!
(Don’t forget to download your quick action guide below.)