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How to study smarter and focus better

Learning isn’t confined to schools. It’s a lifelong skill to help gain new knowledge and perspective that can help keep you healthy. You can refine even the act of learning so you can get the most out of your valuable study time.

We’ve rounded up a few simple tips to help you out. You might have already heard many of these, but it doesn’t hurt to get the reminder.

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Have a designated learning space  

The pandemic has reminded us how important it is to have designated learning or working space at home. Close the door to your office so people will know not to disturb you. Let those who live with you know they shouldn’t bother you for some time.

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If you don’t have an office at home, at least find a desk or table where you can learn or work quietly. If family members or roommates work or study in the same space, invest in headphones or earbuds. (We’ve featured some on the site recently that you can check out here.)

Schedule your studying and stick to that

Planning is as essential for studying as it is for working. That way, you know how much time you need to study for an exam or what else is taking up time in your calendar. Making a plan and sticking to it will help turn your studying time into a routine you’ll get used to doing. As much as you schedule your studying, you need to give yourself time to take breaks, too. One of my favorite working and studying techniques is the Pomodoro technique

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You pick a task and set a 25-minute timer. Work on that task until your time is up, and then take a five-minute break. After every four Pomodoros, you take a longer 15- to 30-minute break. I found this productivity method to help keep me focused without burning me out. But there are others out there you could try out.

Block social media apps

While you might have set up your workspace and set your schedule, nothing derails anyone faster than reaching for your phone because it pinged with a notification and finding yourself mindlessly scrolling and tapping through different social media apps. 

Android and iOS both have Focus modes built into your smartphones you can enable to prevent apps from sending you notifications when you’re in the middle of a study session. There are also third-party options you can consider. I use the app Forest to help block apps I shouldn’t use while I work or study.

Drink coffee in small doses

This is for coffee lovers or those who can take their caffeine. Healthline claims it’s okay to drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages in small doses. These have a positive impact on your ability to focus. But the key is to drink in moderation. Because if you drink too much, you may end up feeling anxious or nervous, which will reduce your ability to stay focused.

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Eat better and sleep well

You don’t want to be hangry or sleepy when studying. To help maintain your focus, keep your energy levels up, and emotions at an even keel, don’t delay or skip meals. And don’t just eat junk food. Balance lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats to keep you fueled. Snack on fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, or even veggies when you get hungry between meals. And make sure you stay hydrated.

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At the same time, make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Not getting enough sleep can negatively impact your short- and long-term memory as well as your concentration. You can learn better if you take care of yourself.

Space out studying

Cramming is unavoidable sometimes. But the best thing you can do is space out your study sessions to help retain information better. This particular tip is needed for studying for big exams. Nate Kornell, a psychologist at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, told Science News For Students that while it is okay to review the day before a big test, spacing these sessions out will be better for remembering information you need.

Don’t just reread, but quiz yourself & mix it up

Simply rereading your textbooks and notes is a bad study skill many students have. When you just reread the material, that’s superficial learning. According to Mark McDaniel, author of the book Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning, rereading is like looking at the answer to a puzzle instead of putting the pieces together yourself. It will look like it will make sense, but you’ll only get it if you try it yourself.

A better study habit is testing yourself. You can create flashcards when you learn new information. Put the question on one side and the answer on the other. You can even ask someone to help you out. 

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Psychologist Cynthia Nebel suggested trying to “quiz yourself the way the teacher asks questions.” Teachers often dig deeper, and they often ask students to compare and contrast, which is a way to develop critical thinking.

Mix up the subject you’re learning. Don’t just study and practice concepts in a linear manner. Mix these up. Because if you study the same way you do every time, there’s a chance for your attention to decrease because you know what’s coming up next.

Use visuals, find examples, ask the hows and whys

Don’t just stick to writing down notes. Pay attention to diagrams and pictures in your class materials or create some. They don’t even have to be well-drawn; just draw associations that make sense to you.

For abstract concepts, it’ll help to have concrete examples. And learn to questions facts and figures. Ask about how things came about a certain way. Elaborating on a topic helps combine new information with what you already know; making these connections make it easier to learn and remember things.

Try explaining what you’re learning to someone else. That helps to show if you’ve mastered the topic at hand. The important thing is you don’t take facts at face value.

Bonus: This new multi-productivity tool from Samsung

If you need a new study companion, Samsung’s latest tablet, the Galaxy Tab S7 FE, is now available. It’s designed to help maximize learning and productivity and inspire creativity. 

With its 12.4-inch display and dual speakers with Dolby Atmos, students can easily attend online classes, review presentations, or read important documents. 

If you like the feel of writing in notebooks, the Galaxy Tab S7 FE comes with a redesigned S Pen to help you draw out those diagrams, take notes, or do any other creative activity. This tablet can convert digital handwriting into text with Samsung Notes.

You don’t have to worry about running out of space quickly as it comes built with a sizeable 128GB internal storage that’s expandable up to 1TB. The Galaxy Tab S7 FE runs on a Qualcomm 750G chipset with Android 11-based One UI 3.1 and 6GB of RAM.

Samsung arms the Galaxy Tab S7 FE with its largest battery yet, a 10,090mAh battery capable of handling up to 13 hours of video playback. What’s better is it supports 45W Super-Fast Charging, so it only takes around an hour and a half to charge this slate fully.

As part of Samsung’s Galaxy ecosystem, you can use features like Quick Sharee for easy file sharing, Handoff for seamless multitasking, as well as Extension and Duplicated modes for adjusting screen display.  

During downtime, you can channel your inner artist with the tablet’s pre-installed creativity apps: PenUp, Clip Studio, Canva, and Noteshelf. This tablet makes drawing, painting, graphic designing, and digital note-taking more accessible, convenient, and easier than ever.

Customers who buy the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE at any Samsung Experience Store until September 30, 2021, can get 10% off through Samsung’s Student and Family Discount Program. Meanwhile, those who purchase the tablet at any Samsung Experience Store and partner online stores like Abenson, Lazada, Shopee, and MX until July 31, 2021, will get a Galaxy Buds Live and a one-year subscription to Microsoft 365 Personal.

You can also enjoy flexible payment terms with 0% interest for up to 24 months when you purchase the Galaxy Tab S7 FE using your credit card from Banco De Oro (BDO), Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), Philippine National Bank (PNB), and Metrobank until September 30, 2021.

Additionally, customers can trade in their old device for the Galaxy Tab S7 FE and get a PHP 3,000 discount until September 30, 2021, through Samsung’s “Trade In, Trade Up” promo.

With a retail price of PHP 39,990, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE comes in eye-catching Mystic Black, Mystic Green, Mystic Silver, and Mystic Pink (online-exclusive). Each purchase of the tablet comes with a Keyboard Cover, S Pen, and four months of FREE Youtube Premium subscription.