Learning how to manage your time will be key to being successful at IU. For instance, you need to know how much time to allot for studying for an exam for one class and how much to allot to writing a paper for another class.  You also need to  know when to stop to eat, sleep, exercise, and recharge! Using planning skills like a detailed calendar to keep your classes, work, extra-curricular activities, and study time organized will all help alleviate stress and help you succeed!  One way to think about this:  How learning for your classes is a lot like learning anything else (sports, a musical instrument, you name it).  Check out our video below to get you started!


How to Study Like You're Practicing for the Game

A fun, playful beginning guide to why spacing out your studying is one of the most powerful ways to learn anything - inside or outside the classroom! And, of course, how to actually implement that in your life and motivate yourself to do it.  More details and background on some of the strategies we introduce here below!

Space it out

"Spaced/distributed practice": Like music, sports, and working out - studying in smaller chunks more often is best.

Build daily study sessions into your time management system for all classes, and learn it like the test is tomorrow. That way, when the final rolls around, you’re not learning it for the first time. At that point, it’s just a deeper review. 

Your brain is an efficiency engine. It will prune out (forget) information it’s only exposed to one or a few times and hold on to whatever it’s exposed to most often over time (improving your “storage” part of the process). When you cram instead of space it out, you’re essentially telling your brain “this isn’t that important, so forget it as soon as possible,” which is exactly what will happen. Then you have to learn and re-learn the same things over and over. That’s not only dull, but it’s a waste of your precious time!  

Take frequent breaks

"The Pomodoro Technique": Alternate focused work sessions with regular quick breaks so you can avoid mental fatigue and to ensure you're able to keep focused. 

Set a bite-sized goal, work on it for 25 min., then take a 5 min. break (check your phone, get a snack, stretch and walk around). Do it again. After 4 times, that’s 2 hours. Take a longer break – get a meal, call a friend, catch up on the latest episode of that show.  

It sounds counter intuitive, but it works! When you’re studying and reading, your brain will eventually take a break – whether you want it to or not! After that, it’s the law of “diminishing returns” - you’re spending more time for less results. With this strategy, you control when that happens.  

Many students love this one, because it gives you permission to take breaks and helps you use the “space it out” strategy. It’s also good motivation science – each bite-sized goal gives you a push forward to the next one. Finally, it makes use of the “serial position effect” (we remember firsts and lasts while middles are muddier – this process creates more firsts and lasts).