Before I get started, I need to make it clear that in no way does the implementation of this new study technique make me a morning person. I don't think I will ever be a happy morning person. I can always get myself up in the morning when I know there's something I need to do, like something more important than just being up early to be up early. That didn't make sense. If I know I need to be somewhere or get something done or be at school/work, I can be up. I'm not that lazy. But as far as naturally wanting to wake up to see the sunrise every single day, that's a no. Maybe a once in a while thing, but definitely not preferred. That will likely change as I age, but I'll grow up when I'm older (Young the Giant reference).
So because things typically get busier the further along in school you go, I've had to reassess how I used to get my work done. I am usually a part of many different organizations and take a lot of classes so the variety of activities I need to do causes my time to have to be spread thin- previously, due to less-than-ideal time management skills, that would lead to me prioritizing one stress inducer over another and then having to cram something last minute. They say procrastination makes you a less confident individual, and my goal for this school year to is reduce that bad habit of mine and to grow my confidence in myself.
My old study habits used to be common because my daily schedule went something like this, especially in high school. Class from 8-3:30pm. Clubs/extracurriculars until 5. Come home, 30 minute break. Study/do homework until 1:30 am. I can tell you now that while that does seem to extend the amount of time it seems like you have, it doesn't do much more than increase your stress levels and sleep deprivation levels. I would save writing papers for the few nights before they were due, cram test prep into the weekend before a test, and continue prioritizing one class over another. While it worked, it was not healthy and probably not the most productive. Seeing as how my classes are getting more demanding, I've realized that management is less of an actual "amount of time" issue and more of a productivity issue. Spending an hour studying with no distractions is 100% better than saying you studied for 4 hours and every 20 minutes, you were watching a new Ted Talk or taking a new Buzzfeed quiz. There's apps that will help you break that habit- you know, the one where you pick up your phone everytime you think your timeline has refreshed. My favorite are apps that relate to the Pomodoro technique- it's basically a timer situation where you work solidly for 30 minutes, take a 5 minute break, keep going. It's more fulfilling to know that you have used your time wisely as opposed to just blindly sitting down for a 5 hour work session and getting up know that you maybe completed one worksheet and read one chapter in those 5 hours.
Apart from using the Pomodoro technique, I've also started getting rid of my night-owl study routine and replacing it with a morning-bird study routine. Now granted, as human beings with variable biological factors, our circadian rhythms are largely determined by our genetics and our environment. But as students in our adolescence/early adulthood, our brain is continuously changing and flexing- this plasticity means that while we seem to be stuck in our old habits, we can still force ourselves to get rid of those stubborn preferences. The reason I bring up our brain structure is that according to some study that my mom read (yes, I know- the scientist in me is hating how I just "cited" that extremely reliable source), our brains work more effectively when we study early in the morning compared to staying up late to study. The brain is able to better focus after clearing the previous day, resetting with a good 6-7 hours of sleep, and hitting the ground running in the early morning. For me, this has involved getting to sleep by 10 or 11pm, waking up around 4 or 5am, and studying up until I have to get ready for the day. Of course, I've only been doing this for about two weeks or so, but each day has gotten easier. I notice that time tends to move slower in the morning, so I definitely feel like I can get more done. It's weird. Somehow, I get less work done when I stay up till 3 am versus when I wake up at 3am and work till the real morning time.
At first, I would wake up, be able to study for an hour and then fall back asleep. I also struggled with staying awake because I would hit snooze on all 6 of my alarms. I would also (and sometimes still do) wake up and study while in bed under a warm blanket- my mom likes to turn the air conditioner on at 6am- don't ask me why. However, I was able to gradually increase the amount of time I could stay awake to study. This included complaining about the temperature to my mom, turning on the main room light instead of just a lamp, and setting alarms on an iPad that I set across the room, instead of on my pillow-side phone.
Regardless, I always need to end my study session with at least a 20-30 minute nap before getting ready for my day. Now this being said, I don't think that morning study is for everyone. I remember having to use it when I had to do test prep for the SAT, but that was a brief period of time in high school. Now that I'm trying to actively implement it, I do see personal benefits, but I understand that one way doesn't work for all. While I do recommend giving the early birdie routine a try, study in your time, not what people tell you is the best time. If you're a night owl, maybe studying at night does help you- it's usually more peaceful, you're more aware of time passing, and you aren't distracted by the daytime noises. Of course, you should eliminate other distractions. Either way, it's up to you to figure out what works best for you. And don't be afraid to try a couple different ways- some study techniques might work for certain subjects and not for others.
Happy studying! Here's to hoping we all have a great semester.