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Three Life-Saving Tips to Help You through the Semester

Back-to-school, y'all! Class is in session, syllabus week is over, and you've probably already dropped and swapped two classes by now. But play time is over, friends—it's time to get serious.

If you wanna survive this semester, you have to be willing to set aside time to get work done. These three #TuesdayTips will help you boost your GPA and free up some downtime for relaxation.


The first step?

Set up shop.

Having what you need where and when you need it is essential to completing a study sesh. Assess your assignments—determine what homework you're willing to finish in one, sit-down session. Split up a large project into digestible stages, and pick one to work on for an hour or two.

Once you've picked your task, you need to figure out what's necessary to work on it. If you need a highlighter, grab two and place them on the desk. If you need a graphing calculator, make sure the batteries are fresh and keep it nearby. Textbooks? On deck. Paper? On hand. Laptop? Charged and ready to go.

Think of yourself as a chef setting aside their tools and ingredients to prepare a meal—everything is pre-measured, within reach, and pertinent to the recipe. Laying out these materials in an easy-to-reach location keeps you from having to stop, get up, and dig up a pencil from the bottom of your backpack, which means getting distracted and breaking up the rhythm you've picked up.

It's hard to stay organized throughout a whole school year, but if you can at least prepare your study station before working on individual assignments, it makes the insurmountable task of working through the term's syllabus seem a little easier on the day-to-day.

Break it down!

If you can't sit still for long periods of time, or if you've got time management or attention span issues, the Pomodoro timer method might just be your new best friend.

Sometimes, it's possible to just sit down for three hours straight and knock out a ten-page report. For literally every other day, however, I rely on the tomato timer to help me write.

The premise here is that you block out a chunk of time for working, with small breaks interspersed between. You study until the timer goes off, but when alarm rings, you drop everything to rest. It gives you built-in time to scroll through social media, stretch, snack, read, watch some videos, or just zone out. You can also customize the lengths of time for the work sessions and the breaks to better suit your attention span.

I love the Pommie app for iOS, but there's also Pomodroido for Android and Tomato Timer for web browsers. You could also use a kitchen timer, or set a series of alarms on your mobile device or alarm clock for whatever chunks of time work best for you.

Block it out.

Instrumental music, white noise, or podcasts are my go-to methods of blocking out distracting noises around me. As a bonus, headphones also tend to deter others from disturbing you.

I don't know about you, but I often find myself getting interrupted by family and friends, or from background noise and activity in my peripherals. If I could just isolate myself from the world around me, I'd only have my own thoughts to battle. A good technique to rid yourself of external distractions is to turn the volume up on your device and settle in to complete your assignments.

Buy yourself a cheap pair of earbuds or some chunky headphones and find out what works best for you—podcasts and audiobooks are best for when I'm working on visual assignments, ones that don't require much writing, because the talking can get confusing when I'm trying to think of phrasing my papers.

White noise is always helpful to me. I love SimplyNoise set to brown noise—it's like emptying my mind of everything but my work, the sound of static letting all the hubbub around me fade away. Instrumental music is also a plus, nothing with lyrics or bass drops. Pandora's New Age Instrumental station is your best bet.


I hope that these #TuesdayTips help you make it through the semester! Tell me what you tried, and comment below with some of your own favorite study techniques.

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