With the lull of syllabus week behind us, many of us students are facing the first exams of this new semester. I don’t want to speak for anyone else, but I personally am not ready.
My head is still stuck in Christmas break mode; all I want to do at this very moment is to play with the toys Santa got me and relax by the tree. Sadly, what I want to do and what I need to do are two separate things at the moment. What I need to be doing right now is studying, and doing it often.
I’ve never been officially diagnosed, but I am pretty sure that I have a mild to severe case of ADHD. I’m constantly jittery, my mind wanders easily and I can never seem to buckle down and do school work when I don’t want to but know I need to.
It’s a miracle my column and section of this paper ever get done, but by some small miracle I do it every week. With all this in mind, there are a couple of ways that I have found help me concentrate a bit longer, and I thought I would share them with you.
My first tip is to listen to music. If you’re studying without music on a regular basis, I have no idea what is wrong with you. It is a freakish skill to be able to study intense subjects without some kind of noise in the background, and something that I am physically unable to do. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Ben, I already listen to music while I study; I’m a normal human. This is a pretty crappy tip.” But here is what I will say to you, dear reader: you’re listening to the wrong music. If you ask people what they listen to while they study, I’d say many of them would say that they can’t study while listening to music with words, and I’d agree with them. But the heart of the matter here is that most music without words, i.e., classical music, is boring. It all sounds the same and will put me to sleep without even opening up a book.
The solution to this problem lies in movie soundtracks from movies that you love. I personally have a huge Spotify playlist full of awesome movie soundtrack songs that keep me energized and ready to take on homework, aptly titled “Epic Music for Feeling Epic.” Now, while you can absolutely look up movie soundtrack playlists on Spotify or Apple Music, I highly recommend making your own and seeing what you like. What gets me pumped up and ready to make a Quizlet could be completely different than what gets you ready to read some PowerPoints.
The second thing that I do when I am really not feeling in the most studious of moods is essentially play pretend. This kind of melds nicely with the last point, but if a song from the “Indiana Jones” movies comes on and I’m doing some kind of research, I can’t help but feel like I’m uncovering some kind of ancient civilization that no living soul has seen for hundreds of years. Throw in my replica Indiana Jones fedora, and you’ll have an awkward conversation with your roommate when he comes home and sees you studying gross anatomy while “The Map Room: Dawn” plays in the background.
Granted, you don’t have to go as far as me, but if there is anything that you can do to put yourself in a mindset that makes the work seem like less of a chore, do it! With the amount of studying that is required of us, we have to make it a little bit more tolerable. Doing these couple of things helps me out boatloads in the long run, and I hope that they can help you or give you some ideas for how you can make studying a more enjoyable part of your life.
Good luck on exams, everyone. I’m sure going to need it.