Ever wonder how to study effectively by cultivating good study habits?
As students, it is normal to find ourselves procrastinating and slacking off every now and then while studying.
It can be really difficult to sit still and absorb information sometimes. But what if this article tells you that you can actually make learning an auto-pilot process?
Studying does not have to be a chore, it can be made enjoyable and rewarding with the help of good study habits.
But first, how do you even start cultivating a good studying habit?
How To Study Effectively: How Habits Work
The art of habits is a very intriguing concept.
Do you ever wonder why we will never forget simple things like walking or recognising the way home? We do these things without thinking and execute tasks like these as if we are on autopilot.
The reason why this is possible is because of ‘habit’.
How Good Study Habits are formed
There are 3 stages of how habits are formed.
1 – Cue
2 – Routine
3 – Reward
That’s right, it’s 3 simple stages of forming a habit.
You will first need to find a cue whereas in studying context, maybe it is the to-do list that you wrote the night before going to bed.
Routine: This will trigger your brain to execute the required tasks on the to-do lists.
And what is the reward? It could be the satisfaction that you get when you get to cross off each task on your to-do list.
Or it could be the sense of accomplishment or the alleviated stress you feel after completing your to-do list.
For habits to form, your brain will first need a cue to execute a routine to get the desired reward.
The thing about habits is completely different from person to person, the cue that works for you is not going to have the same effect on another person.
The reward system of this entire habit loop is also customisable and based on personal preference. The rewards can be intentional or unintentional.
How To Study Effectively by Cultivating Good Study Habits
Cue and Reward
Now that you know you need these 3 key steps to forming a good study habit, how can you actually find cues and rewards that help you execute the ‘studying routine’?
Since studying and learning are unique, students will have to find cues when they are the most motivated to start studying.
It will differ from one person to another, therefore, when is it that you feel like you really want to sit down and start studying?
Your cue could be anything as small as knowing you need to complete a reading assignment by the end of today.
It can be a realisation or a physical cue such as seeing your to-do list.
Moreover, knowing that after you complete these things, you will get your desired reward – such as the sense of accomplishment or rewarding yourself with time to do other things is what will make you jump right into the routine.
How To Study Effectively With A Routine for Good Study Habits
Now that your brain has identified this cue, start to make a routine.
Habits can only form and stick for a long period of time if every time you see a cue, you execute your routine to get the reward that you crave.
Overtime after recognising what is the cue, your brain will automatically carry out the routine without extra effort. All in all making studying a not so tiresome chore anymore.
Golden Rule of Habit Change
Forming habits this way can go both ways, if you insert a bad routine into your 3 stage habit formation, you will likely also fall into a bad habit cycle.
Do you have a bad procrastination habit?
Procrastination happens when we are exposed to distractions when studying such as our phones, social media, food and many other things.
When we see these distractions, we will start to slack off, possibly head to our beds or couch to lie down and swipe on our phones.
This is the start of forming a bad habit.
Sees notifications appearing on our phones (Cue) -> Goes to the couch and relax (Routine) -> No more cramming (Reward)
Is there a way to change bad studying habits?
Of course! If there is a way to create good study habits, we can definitely alter them.
This is the Golden Rule of Habit Change
To change a bad habit, we have to first identify the cue and reward and change only the routine.
What is the reward you get from picking up your phone?
Upon identifying the ‘reward’ of procrastination, we can insert a new routine to overcome this bad habit.
An alternative way of habit change is to absolutely remove the cue.
In this case of procrastination, you can simply hide away your mobile phones or block off all social media pages on your laptop.
This way, the cue will never be picked up, no bad routine will occur.
Good study habits emerge as you slowly build up your resilience and determination to carry out the same positive routine when met with the same cue.
Read more about the Science behind Habits: The Power of Habit
Keep your heads up, students! You will realise how precious your education journey is when it ends!