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Study habits: Introduction

Study habits


Study is an important part of your university life. Learning how to manage your study and developing good study habits will help you study effectively and maximise your learning at University.

What you will learn

  • techniques for developing good study habits
  • strategies to help manage your time effectively 

Image: Planner by Marijana1 Pixabay 

Start planning


The key to keeping on track of your studies is to organise yourself - carefully organising your study time so you can juggle family and other personal commitments. This means getting into the habit of planning!  Planning is the basis of good time management. It allows you to track what you are doing, monitor what you have already done and how much time you have available to you. Whether it's short-term or long-term planning, creating a plan will give you guidance and direction, allowing you to manage your time more effectively.



Set goals


Planning and organising your study load is important, but it is also important to get the balance right so that you can go from the planning stage and move into actually getting started!


Having goals is a good way to motivate yourself and get you started. When setting goals, consider breaking down your work into achievable goals rather than being overly ambitious. The video below shows you how to use the SMART goals method to create clear and achievable goals that you can actually work with.




Tips for setting goals:


  • set clearly defined goals - set specific goals so you are clear about exactly what you want to achieve
  • keep them realistic so the goals are purposeful and achievable
  • break the goal down into smaller goals (mini-goals), then breaking down the mini-goals into tasks
  • set a time frame for achieving these goals - set a start and end date
  • adjust your expectations - if you are feeling unwell on the day, you may need to modify your schedule accordingly. Do not feel guilty!


And remember to reward yourself when you successfully complete a task (call a friend, check your emails or get a snack).



The activity below will show you how to tackle your assignment by breaking down your goal (of completing an assignment) into mini-goals, and into achievable tasks.


In the activity place the mini tasks for writing an assignment in the correct order.


Manage your time

Time management is an essential skill for studying at University. Students who manage their time well often perform better in their first year of University (Kitsantas, 2008). Finding ways of managing your time can help you cope with the pressure of studying, ensuring you do the right work at the right time.  
Time management is all about self management - managing you and what you choose to do in an allocated space that we call time. Managing you and your time is all about:
  • being aware that time is limited - you cannot get back time that has passed
  • organising your goals, plans and schedules to effectively use time, and
  • monitoring your use of time and adjusting to the distractions and changing priorities.


The key to managing your time rests on valuing what you do, prioritising and organising your activities.



Useful resources for managing your time:


Know yourself

Knowing who you are and what you are like is a critical part of managing yourself and the time that you have. Are you organised or rigid? Flexible or disorganised? Do you have a short or long concentration span? It is important to consider what works well for you in regard to how you manage your study load with time to rest and play. Get to know yourself and your habits and monitor your behaviour and actions so you can turn these into your patterns of study.

Practise self-reflection and mindfulness


Get into the habit of practising self-reflection! Reviewing and reflecting on your day, week or activities can help you monitor your progress and keep you on track and make a conscious choice of whether you are committed to carrying it out. Ask yourself:


  • Did I get the set tasks done? If not, why?
  • What went well? Why?
  • What did not go well? Why?
  • How can I do this better next time?


Once you have made a conscious, deliberate choice that you are committed to doing something, you will give yourself the best chance of doing well. And remember, discussing and sharing your experiences with others (peers, tutors) can help you gain a different perspective.


Being mindfull is another useful technique for developing good study habits. Try focusing on the present moment, totally engaged with the task that you are working on. This way, you will be able to work more efficiently and productively.


Check out some of the useful resources available to help you develop mindfulness.


Ask for help


Get into the habit of seeking assistance when you are struggling with your studies. It is best to ask for help as soon as possible instead of wasting too much time trying to solve the problem yourself. Consider consulting your tutor and lecturer in the first instance but also remember that your classmates and friends may also be a great source of help.


You will also want to take advantage of the academic support programs that are offered by the university. For example, the Library offers online programs and workshops to help you develop your academic research and study skills.


And remember, it is important to take responsibility for yourself and your own learning!


Test yourself