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4 min read

4 Tips to Develop Good Study Habits

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Studying is an art as much as it is a science.

I’ve tried a whole laundry list of different tips I’ve read online, and while it took me a while to get there, I’ve finally figured out what works best for me. And honestly, that’s probably the best piece of advice I’ve got to offer: try different habits, and find out what works best for YOU.

I’ve been at this studying thing for a while now (24 years, to be exact 😅), and through my time in undergrad, graduate school, and now the Cyber Defense Analyst (CDA) Bootcamp, I’d like to think I’ve picked up a solid trick or two. I was somehow able to keep a 4.0 GPA all through school and college—but not without ripping out more than my fair share of hair. :)

I’ll share a few tips I’ve learned along the way to hopefully help you on your journey.

1. Have a dedicated area to study.

Much like a squirrel or a cat, I’m distractable.

I work from home, so I’ve got an office that I associate with working. I don’t work anywhere else in my house but from in that room. Why? Because on a subconscious level, I associate that room with productivity, getting sh*t done, and—yes—stress. 

But that’s the only room I’m allowed to be stressed about work in.

It doubles as my study room. I know that as soon as I walk into that room, I’m about to do something. I’ve minimized distractions in the room, and because I subconsciously associate that room with working and learning, it’s easier for me to get the creative juices flowing. And as crazy as it sounds, I try hard to separate the rest of my house in my mind as a relaxation zone, containing all my work and school-related stress to my office.

Whether you’ve got a whole room to dedicate to studying or just a small desk in the corner of a room, having a dedicated study space will help you quickly get in the groove to study.

2. Set aside time to study.

Now that you’ve got a dedicated place to study, you need dedicated time to study.

In my undergrad days, I worked three part-time jobs while going to college full-time. My days were spent in class or working, while I dedicated an hour or two each evening to studying or completing assignments (prioritized by due date). And I dedicated every Sunday to catching up on everything I didn’t have time to knock out during the week.

In grad school, my dynamic changed slightly. I worked full-time and went to college part-time, so I didn’t do much studying through the week. Rather, Sunday was set aside as my “study day.” Now granted, that’s just about all I did on Sundays during my time in grad school, and it stunk, but it worked, and that’s what mattered.

Interestingly, “Sunday study days” have followed me into this bootcamp, and Sunday is my day to watch the next week’s lectures and complete the assignments for the week. I’ve programmed myself to know that Sundays are busy, and I spend nearly the entire day in my office. But I’m productive!

Notice how Saturdays aren’t mentioned, and there’s a reason why, which leads me to my next tip.

3. Know when to stop.

There’s nothing worse than overdoing it.

If you’re sitting at your desk, realize your eyes are getting heavy, and use your last bit of eye strength to look up at the clock (which reads 2am), you’ve gotta stop!

Be reasonable with your expectations for yourself. There’s no sense in feeling like a failure if your expectations for yourself aren’t realistic. Studying for hours on end when you’re exhausted isn’t going to help anything. In fact, it’s just going to stress and burn you out, and you likely won’t retain much of what you’re studying.

In my experience, it’s so much better to come back to things after a good night’s sleep. Knowing when to call it quits for the day is key to avoiding burnout. Once you figure out how your body tells you it’s time to quit, listen to it.

4. Reach out for help as soon as you need it.

I started my academic career feeling like I had to figure out everything on my own. Otherwise, I felt like I was bothering my instructors—and even worse, showing that no matter how hard I tried, I didn’t understand something.

It took me far too long to realize these two major, life-changing facts:

  1. It is literally an instructor’s job to fill in the gaps and make things make sense for their students, and
  2. If I already understood everything being taught, I was in the wrong classroom.

You’re not supposed to understand everything. The whole point of any type of education is to teach you new things, and some things just aren’t going to click with you on the first try.

If you don’t actively reach out for help as soon as you realize you need it, you’re doing yourself and your instructor a major disservice. Knowledge in a class often builds upon itself, so it’s mission-critical to identify when you need help and act on it

This is especially true in the CDA Bootcamp. The key to your success is having an open line of communication with your instructors. Let them know if something doesn’t make sense. There’s a good chance you’re not alone in your lack of understanding. My classmates have spoken up to ask so many questions that I didn’t even realize I had myself, and I’d have never known I had that knowledge gap had they not asked their questions during class.

Ask questions, and ask them as soon as you have them! You’ll thank yourself later—and your classmates might, too. :)

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I hope these tips to develop good study habits prove to be as helpful to you as they have been for me, no matter the educational path you choose. Experiment, read other blogs for tips and advice, and find out what works best for you.

Good luck, and happy learning!

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