Whenever you enroll for preparation for any competitive exam, the first thing that your instructors suggest is that you build a habit of studying for long hours. While a lot of research suggests that it’s the quality of study that matters more, we all have been in situations that absolutely demand us to study for long hours.
Yes, I am talking about the exam days or the days just before any competitive exam!
The times when the list of things to study clearly exceeds the time left at hand. We’ve all been there at some point. The only way to study then, is to put in long hours.
So, without complaining about how hard it’s to actually study for long hours, let’s just dive right into why you need to learn to study for long hours.
First reason is that it sort of makes you invincible. Studying for long hours helps in developing patience. And once you learn to sit with yourself, concentrate and study, you can actually perform well in any exam!
The other important reason to study longer hours is that it makes you less distracted over time. Slowly, you start focussing better and your concentration power also improves tremendously. And that’s one thing we, the attention-deficit generation really need.
So how long should you aim to study?
While that depends from person to person, you should aim to study for eight hours in a day to begin with. Students who prepare for competitive exams study for 12-13 hours a day. But, putting 12-13 hours in studying is not an easy task. It’s a habit that can be built slowly. Studying that long requires you to make your exam the sole mission of your life and eliminate all other distractions. More on that later.
For now, let’s talk about a few simple habits that you can develop in order to study for longer hours.
The first and foremost thing that you should remember is that you can’t spend long hours doing something you don’t enjoy. So, if you’re someone who’s never liked studying, studying for long hours will require you to find ways to develop an interest in the subjects you are trying to study.
How to build interest to study long hours?
If you’re trying to study for longer hours for the first time and don’t have an immediate exam that you need to give, then ease things out for yourself by picking up the subject/topic that interests you the most. Which subjects cause you the least amount of boredom? Which subjects do you feel like studying even when there’s no exam to give? Try sitting for long hours and going deep into these subjects. Clock the time you spend on your desk studying this subject and always try to beat your past record. This will help you develop the patience and interest in studying. Try to target studying 8 hours a day.
Once you are more comfortable studying for long hours, then it’s time to dive into the subjects that you tend to avoid. For these subjects, try to relate what you have learned to real life. This will help you in developing interest. Try to read about the practical applications of the subject. This will help you put some perspective to your studying and you’ll be able to dive deeper into these subjects without feeling agitated.
Here’s an example of how you can make studying a subject like Chemistry interesting for yourself.
Source – thoughtco.com
Now that we’ve talked about the most important aspect of studying for long hours – developing an interest in your study, let’s explore some habits that will help you further.
Eat Healthy Meals
One of the biggest barriers for studying long hours is drowsiness. Do you ever sit at your desk and open your books only to end up yawning with your mouth wide open? Even with proper sleep, you’ll end up feeling drowsy when you sit at your desk if your diet isn’t a healthy one.
Eating healthy is the smart suggestion that one can ever give you. If you are planning to study for 10+ hours every day you should develop a healthy diet full of protein and other nutrients. Avoid eating heavy meals. Instead, keep your meals light and eat some healthy snacks whenever you take a break. This will help your mind to stay alert and function better.
Studying for long hours requires stamina and for that the right amount of nutrition is necessary. Apart from eating healthy try to keep yourself hydrated. Drink water at regular intervals to further avoid drowsiness.
Plan your breaks
No one wants to break their flow of studies but taking breaks in between your studies is also important. But on the other hand, getting up whenever you feel like taking a break doesn’t work either. So what’s the best way? The idea is to plan your breaks in a way that they feel like a reward.
One of the most famous research on habits revealed how the brain is wired to seek reward. Here’s an expert from the book “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg.
Source : https://lifehacker.com/
Based on your studies you can decide for and configure the breaks for yourself.. If you are studying for a continuous 2 hours trying to take a 15-20 minutes break before jumping to another topic or subject. And plan those 15-20 minutes like a reward for yourself. Allow yourself to eat something you love or watch your favourite show. Then, slowly try to increase the time of study between your breaks to form a habit of studying long hours.
Apart from forming the study habit, few minutes breaks can also do wonders to you by allowing you to move and rejuvenate yourself. It helps to avoid all the stress from piling up at the start of the 8 hour study period as your mind knows that there are breaks to look forward to.
Utilize your rest time to do things you love
Once you sit down to study, you might have all sorts of ideas in your head about how you’ve always wanted to learn how to cook or how you’d like to watch a movie or read a book.
Just studying all day can be really boring. And, it doesn’t have to be that way. Apart from the break, make it a point to spend about 2 hours away from studying. In this time, do the things you always feel like doing. Even if it’s just cooking one meal or reading one chapter of your favourite book or watching a movie.
All work and no play can make you dull. So, always try to find a balance and include some hours of play in your day. Don’t spend the entire day with your books. Studying for long hours does not mean you should neglect your interests and hobbies. Enjoying your everyday life while studying is also very important doing things you like to make yourself more focused on studies. When you practice a few hours to your interests and hobbies they help you to break your monotone routine.
Check how you study and learn better study methods
If you don’t get the desired results from your long hours of study, your motivation will decline over time. For this reason, it’s important to plan out your study very well. You should ensure that you study to actually retain what you learn instead of just clocking long hours.
To ensure good results from studying, stay away from ineffective ways of study. Research has shown that massed practice and blocked practice are two of the least useful ways to study. These are scientific names for the process commonly known as cramming. In massed practice, the person studies single subject for a long period of time and repeats phrases over and over to memorize them. Blocked practice on the other hand requires you to review one topic repeatedly before moving onto another topic till you’ve memorized it.
While repetition is the key to learning, blocking yourself with something till you’ve mastered is ineffective. The better strategy is to distribute your hours of study over multiple subjects/topics and revisit them at regular intervals. Such a method of study is known as distributed practice. Students who rely on distributed practice are much more likely to retain the information beyond the date of the exam, which can help with future classes and with their careers.
4 Tips to help you study for long hours
Once you start seeing good results from your long study hours, you will feel motivated to continue with this habit. Following the above mentioned points will help you study for longer hours. Here are some other useful tips that will help you along the way –
Change your area of study if required
You may be holed up in your room for days, and only eat or talk with your parents for a couple of minutes when you decide to study for these long hours. Ensure that your place of study is inspiring, well-lit and well-ventilated. Your study environment can influence how well and how long you’re able to study. Make sure you choose a place that works for you.
Dark environment causes your brain to release melatonin, a sleep hormone. It is never advised to study in darkness, as it leads to a decrease in your concentration level and you automatically feel sleepy. Bright lights will help to re-establish your circadian rhythms for study. Have a lamp on your study table that allows you to remain awake.
Talk to your family and friends
Studying is a lonely exercise and studying for long hours can cause you to spend too much time in your own head. Make sure you spend some talking to your family or friends. Do not take your books to the dining table. Always make time for conversations with people who make you feel refreshed and energized. This will help you relax and you’ll be able to study better.
Get enough sleep
It is very important to sleep well to maintain a good mental health. It makes no sense to study for ten hours a day if you don’t even remember half of what you studied the previous day. Sleep helps in retaining what you learnt so avoid compromising on your sleep to clock extra study hours.
Sometime in the middle of the day, you can have a 30 min nap when you feel you are exhausted from studying. Naps help in reducing frustration. A good nap is an excellent way to calm your mind when you have millions of things to do or when you are under pressure.
Find your motivation
Someone who has found a way to stay motivated can endure long hours of study and even failures to achieve the desired results. Write down your reason(s) and put it in front of your desk so that it always reminds you to work hard.
Source : https://www.daniel-wong.com/
Having your reasons in front of you will keep you from thinking negatively about studying and keep you focussed. You can also listen to your favourite inspirational speakers or read a page or two of the books that you find most inspiring. Having a long term goal that motivates you to study will help you put in longer hours.
Have a study ritual
It’s important to create a routine which will help you to increase your energy and concentrate level when it comes to staying focused. Have some study rituals that signal your brain that it’s time to become alert and study. Study rituals involve cleaning your study table or desk, having all your notes in one place, and building a to-do list.
A good study ritual is meditation. Meditation is one of the strongest tools which will help you in calming your mind, increase your concentration level, keep you focused and driven to accomplish your goal. You should try to do at least 5-10 minutes of meditation every day.
Doing these few study rituals will not only prepare you physically for your studies but will also allow your mind to become more concentrated. With your space clear of distractions, your mind can focus freely on what is most important.
How to study for long hours at night?
Now that you’ve got all the basics sorted to study for long hours, let’s explore the idea of studying late at night. To study for long hours you should first decide your preferences as few people like to study in the early morning, whereas few like to study late at night. There’s no right and wrong when it comes to – What’s the ideal time to study? Deciding your study schedule purely depends upon you.
As long as you’re getting enough rest and sleep, you can study late at night if it works for you.
There are some times when you absolutely need to study at night to complete the syllabus before the exam. Don’t worry, here are a few tips that will help you out with the same.
Drink coffee or tea
Coffee is a good source of energy and improves your late-night study alertness. It helps you to stay focused and awake and it combats your body’s natural substances that make you sleepy.
But don’t take too much amount of coffee to stay awake at night. Excessive coffee can upset your stomach. Don’t get habitual of drinking coffee to stay awake. Drink it only when you feel you can’t study for long hours but you absolutely need to. Always keep in mind that extra dose of anything is not beneficial for your health and mind.
Take a shower to beat lethargy
If you start feeling sleepy, having a hot and tidy shower will help you to stay awake. If you don’t want to take a shower then sprinkle some cold water on your hair and eyes. You can even re-brush your teeth it will make you feel refreshed and will help you to study for long hours at night.
Take a walk and do some exercise
If you feel sleepy while studying at late hours during the night then you can just get up from your place and do a few minutes aerobic. It will help you to increase your energy which is required to study late at night.
But if you don’t feel like doing exercise then get up and walk around your room. Take 10 minutes’ walk back and forth or a couple of jumping jacks. This will also help you in boosting your energy to study for long hours at night.
Keep your environment clean and free from distractions
Sitting on your bed while studying at night is a big no-no for obvious reasons. But even if you are sitting at your desk, you can get distracted easily if your environment isn’t clean. At night time, the will-power to study is often limited and the mind is more likely to wander away the moment it sees something distracting.
If your phone is anywhere near your sight, you’ll end up scrolling social media or texting your friends. So make it a point to keep your phone away or in airplane mode when you’re studying.
We’ve covered a lot of tips to help you study for long hours. Experiment with them and see what works best for you. Some of these tips may work really well for you, so stick to them and keep making a target to sit for longer hours till you’re able to study for the desired number of hours per day. Changes don’t happen overnight so it’s very important to stay patient with yourself while you try to build this habit.