Studying for hours on end without a reprieve isn’t productive–and there’s even evidence to suggest that study breaks can help improve your scores, boosting your ability to focus and retain information. It’s always a good idea to review your notes for an hour or two before an exam, but doing it “right” is crucial. Here are just a few ways you can make sure that your ten-minute break doesn’t turn into an all-nighter.
Do something small, but productive.
Get up and straighten your room, organize something you’ve been putting off, answer a few emails, do laundry, or register for those summer classes you’ve been considering (summer registration starts today, February 20th!) Not only will you get those small tasks out of the way and save yourself some unneeded stress later, you’ll also get a chance to refocus your energy once you sit back down to study.
Get a meal.
One of the benefits of SJU’s (relatively) small campus is that the Campion and the library are barely a two-minute walk from each other. Take a 30-60 minute break to grab a meal with a friend, then head back over to the library. Staying out of your room will help eliminate distractions and ensure that you can finish studying in time to get a decent amount of sleep.
Try using web blockers.
If you’re easily distracted by social media, apps like Self Control can help you block websites like Twitter, Facebook, and Netflix while you study. After you add distracting websites to your “blacklist” and set the timer, you won’t be able to access any of those websites, even if you delete the app or restart your computer. iOS apps like Freedom let you create blocklists to help reduce time wasted on your phone. For Google Chrome users, there’s also StayFocusd, which I found especially helpful during finals week last year. If you really need to get in a few hours of intense studying, try leaving your phone and laptop in your room and reviewing your textbooks and printed readings instead.
This may seem obvious, but it’s harder than it sounds. The earlier you start, the more you’ll get done. Give yourself a do-able start time (maybe an hour to an hour and a half after your last class) and commit to it. It will be much easier to avoid an all-nighter–with several study breaks built in–if you start studying as soon as you can.
No matter what you’re doing–going for a walk, going to get dinner, cleaning up your room–give yourself strict time limits and stick to them. A good way to hold yourself accountable for this is to set timers (everyday electronics like stopwatches and microwaves can serve as timers if you’re trying to study without the distraction of your phone or laptop).
Get a change of scenery.
Changing up your space can recontextualize your study session and even help reenergize you after an hour or so of sitting still. The new Center for Inclusion and Diversity on the second floor of Campion has a study room equipped with a whiteboard, several tables, plenty of outlets, and even free printing.