Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Welcome Summer! (Or How to Stay Focused on your Studying when you Would Rather be Outside Enjoying the Sunshine)

Summer is finally here (in the US that is). Once the warm summer air hits me, all thoughts of studying go out the window. I would rather be outside picking cherry tomatoes from my tiny garden or taking a drive down any tree-lined street.

Today, it’s a little cloudy so it’s the perfect day to crack open that FAR textbook. Despite the overcast weather, I can’t stop looking out the kitchen window at the backyard.

OK, just for a couple of minutes… I know I always say that.

But think about it; I exerted enough effort carrying the textbooks, CDs, notebooks and handouts over to the kitchen table. I deserve a 5 minute break.

The squirrels run across the top of the fence and the birds graze on the grass in my backyard. At least 7 birds are on the grass including a pair of grackles (they have black bodies and an iridescent blue head), some blackbirds and a number of unidentified brown birds. Such a relaxing scene until a neighbor’s lawnmower startles them and they all fly up to the lower branches of the huge oak tree. Okay, enough nature for now. Back to FAR.

I moved FAR to August so I can study the right way and try to balance it with some summer fun. I noticed that Prometric now provides you with a change history in the e-mail receipt they send you. Yikes! We can now see how many times we moved the exam (a.k.a. how many times we procrastinated)!

So, how can we stay focused on studying when we would rather be outdoors doing something more fun? Try these tips this summer:

  • Have your materials ready for studying. The thought of putting forth any extra effort will cause you to abandon studying altogether for something more fun

  • Use a timer. I use this technique when working from home. Study for 2 hours and then do something outside for another 2 hours, then back indoors to study for an hour, and so on. Just remember, if you extend the fun time, you also have to extend the study time. That should make you think twice about ignoring the timer when it’s time to come back inside

  • Break up your studying by type instead of working on one module or chapter at a time. This lets you move some of the studying outdoors
    • Listen to tapes and CDs and watch DVDs at home in the evening
    • Take a handout or book outside to read on your front steps or the steps outside your local library or museum
    • Do questions while in a chair on the beach or your backyard poolside (the chances of dozing off and getting a nasty sunburn while doing questions are less than if you were reading your textbook)
    • Bring flashcards or notes to the park with you to read on a bench or while your kids are playing on the slide

  • Do less studying during daylight hours. This could mean scheduling most of your study time in the early morning before work or in the evening (this works on weekends, too). This way you can take a walk outside with your coworkers during your lunch break instead of being cooped up at your desk at work studying

  • Give yourself a break. If your significant other, roommate, kids, friends, siblings or neighbors are going to do something you would not get a chance to do again this summer, it is perfectly fine for you to join them for once. This only applies if you have been studying diligently all along. Don’t make a habit of it, that’s why it’s called a break.
What do you do to help yourself focus on your studies while everyone else is having summer fun?

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